Friday, February 14th, 2014
Greetings all from the charthouse of the Picton Castle. The Barque is motor sailing towards the North in light breezes and we are hoping to get into the Easterly trade winds later in the day. We are bound for Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas.
I relieved Dan Moreland as Captain of the Picton Castle on February 11th in Mangareva as the ship was greeting 12 new crew, sending out overnight expeditions in the long boat and generally making preparations for departing to the North. Having all “layed along” on the morning of the 13th we began to haul back our big Port anchor in a calm environment with a light rain just past. All looked uneventful for a conventional departure from Mangarevas coral bound harbor and the windlass, powered by a dozen crew, began its work.
Now it’s a popular conventional wisdom that if things seem to be going too well then watch out for anomalies. As we had the anchor hove short and were just breaking it out of the bottom, a squall dropped down from the island hills with winds gusting above 30kts and lots of rain and pushed Picton Castle‘s bow back in towards the anchorage. This is a small anchorage without a lot of room to maneuver. Happily the crew were quick to the braces, the engine delivered the necessary “horses” while Chief Mate Dirk won the anchor forward and Watch Officer Sam stayed put with the navigation gear keeping track of our position relative to the surrounding coral. Picton Castle tacked twice under power – bracing up sharp on either tack – to get clear of the channel out of the anchorage – about ½ mile long. Bosun Pania got a great workout throwing the eight turns of the helm from side to side as we maneuvered. The rain was over in an hour and we motored slowly out of the atoll and into open water.
So, that was my experience on my first day of operating Picton Castle. It left me with an appreciation for having good officers, a strong crew and a well-found ship. Also, just now, an appreciation for open water with 1,000 fathoms under our keel… The weather prognosticators predict a fair breeze by afternoon and so on we go.
Cheers, Captain John Beebe-Center