Captain's Log

Archive for March, 2014

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Medical Officer Wanted

Are you a doctor who is curious about sailing a tall ship?

Picton Castle is seeking a medical officer for our upcoming Westward Bound Voyage. We like to have a medical doctor aboard for our voyages, especially when we’re making big ocean crossings. You should have some experience with emergency medicine, but we’ve had medical officers in the past with specialties ranging from heart surgery to obstetrics. What’s more important to us is your resourcefulness and willingness to work as part of the team.

There’s quite a bit of support for the medical officer. Picton Castle carries a full medical kit with a wide range of supplies. All of our professional crew are first aid trained. We subscribe to a service ashore that is staffed by doctors with experience in remote medicine who can offer consultation and assistance.

As medical officer, you essentially participate in life aboard as a trainee crew member until we need to call on your medical expertise. You’re able to participate in watches, take your turn at the helm, help with setting and taking in sails, and be involved in the daily life of the ship in the same way trainees are. In exchange for your medical expertise, we waive the trainee fee for you.

The Westward Bound voyage begins in Fiji this July and we’re currently seeking medical officers for all legs of the voyage as follows:

Leg 1 – July 1, 2014 to October 1, 2014 – Fiji to Bali
Leg 2 – October 1, 2014 to January 3, 2015 – Bali to Cape Town
Leg 3 – January 3, 2015 to March 20, 2015 – Cape Town to Cape Verde
Leg 4 – March 20, 2015 to May 21, 2015 – Cape Verde to Savannah, USA

If you’re not a doctor but you know a doctor who may be interested, please pass this opportunity along to them.

For more information, contact voyage coordinator Maggie Ostler by email at info@picton-castle.com or by phone at +1 902 634 9984.

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Papeete, Tahiti – Part 2

By Chelsea McBroom

March 12th, 2014

The Picton Castle starboard watch’s day off was very quiet, the streets were clear, being a Sunday. The shops were closed with their garage-like doors covered in graffiti. As we walked towards the town centre where the farmers market is, the streets became crowded and busy. I worried I’d lose my friends in the commotion – fish stands calling out prices and hosing down their counters, the vendor selling fragrances and oils asking us where we were from, tables covered in fruits and vegetables (avocados, star fruit, bananas), another in small straight edge woven basket bags. By then, just after 8am, the windows had only a third of their pastries and cakes. When the market closed shortly after, the city seemed deserted.

We went in search for wifi, finding only a bar or two open that had it for sale by the hour. Lian and Mark each took out a bike from the hold (finally!) that had been repaired and checked by the engineer to ride around. Simon, John, Maria and I walked through the city streets instead of following the shoreline as much as possible, hoping to find something else open. We had lunch at a movie theatre snack bar that was outdoors with a large patio. All the movies were dubbed in French which prevented us from buying a ticket to sit in an air conditioned theatre.

We went back to the ship, meeting up with Lily and Mark, who told me of a convention going on further along the shore with a strip of cafes open. We then walked along the wharf until it connected to the busy street and we followed it around the island until it turned into a lush green park strip – very pruned and well taken care of with new modern and yet island looking structures for washrooms and elevators that went underground. Eventually after passing a big stack of canoes we came to a gathering of tents and a swarm of people. Kids played in the jungle gym, and beach court with two goal posts on either end for soccer. The convention was for home-wares but we took particular interest in the inexpensive straw hats at the garden stand and the parachute material hammocks made in a variety of shiny colors.

We randomly chose a café patio to sit at – a table with the most shade for us all to sit around and ordered two scoops of coffee ice cream each and a large bottle of water to share. I made a point of not asking what time it was as we relaxed and chatted about sailing and movies. We got back to the ship just before dinner and I chose a Chinese food stand that made chicken and vegetable chow mein. It was a huge portion they gave me in a take-out box and I couldn’t finish it. Together with the days heat and being so relaxed, I found myself very sleepy and didn’t partake in the night of Karaoke.

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Papeete, Tahiti – Part 1

By Chelsea McBroom

March 12th, 2014

It’s been a while since the Picton Castle pulled up alongside at a destination. We arrived in the port of Papeete at the island of Tahiti and the swell was high outside the harbour. It wasn’t until we moved in closer that the pilot boat could come alongside and the harbour pilot could come aboard. We docked, throwing our heaving lines to the workers in their neon vests at the wharf. The crew made comments looking at Papeete, about how overwhelming it seemed, like big city – clearly highly populated with the shoreline dotted with big hotels and shopping strips, shaded in a flourish of palm trees.

Once we were settled, having attached our chafe gear and harbour stowed all sail, port watch was given the night off, and they hurried to enjoy their first evening off the ship in nine days. At five or six o’clock, little trucks pulled into the shore lot, surrounded by short stone walls and gardens, to set up food stands selling Chinese food, BBQ, sashimi, pizza, burgers, milkshakes, and the familiar steak frites. John volunteered to get the group their choice of crepes from one of the stands and a chose one of Anne-Laure’s favorites, a caramel-like nut sauce inside a thin folded pancake.

The area is surrounded by strips of old style double lamp posts that kept the dock bright throughout the night. Locals walked around until late, often carrying their dance music with them even after they left the club across the street. Motor bikes rumbled by, zipping down the cement path along the shore. I slept on the hatch choosing the cool night, noise and bright lights over the dark quiet heat of the foc’sle. On my 1am watch, I had but to roll over and stand to see the gangway lashed on starboard at amidships. People sat on the wharf in between the crossing of ships mooring lines, getting a view of the city and saying bonjour to those who passed.

Like clockwork after I’d checked the chafe gear, the ship and went back to sleep on the hatch, it started to rain. Both awnings were up over the main deck and the quarter deck, but with the smallest amount of wind, rain scattered underneath it all. I didn’t move, hoping it would be a short light rain, but as it came down harder I made a run for it, sprinkling my sleeping bag and pillow with drops as I hopped through the carpenter shop, into the foc’sle, and jumped into my humid bunk.

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Tahiti Glow

By Chelsea McBroom

March 8th, 2014

Finally there was a good breeze blowing through the foc’sle of the Picton Castle during the night – in fact at one point I may have even put a blanket over me and the last time I can recall doing that was sometime around New Zealand.

I can recall sometime after midnight, Pania, our Bosun, being woken up to stow the main t’gallant and then I passed out again to be woken up at the usual 3:30am when I was told it was very windy. Still imagining the dreaded squalls, I put on my foul weather overalls (which I’m regretting now as it becomes more humid and less windy not to mention toasty in this charthouse), harness and knife belt before taking my jacket off the hook and rolling onto the well deck. I noticed at muster with the Captain, Anne-Laure, the Doc, Mark and Lian that the yards were squared with only the topsails, foresail and inner jib set.

I was the first posted on lookout, the position currently being filled by Avery from the 12-4 at the bridge. This time there was something to report – a faint glow of white light in the distance – Tahiti. I noticed the glow passing over to starboard and back to port again and thought of what helm must be like. The main upper topsail was taken in by the 12-4, Sam giving a “yeehaw!” as he eased better the halyard and the rest of his crew quickly bunted up.

I tried to keep my eyes peeled and my mind awake as I looked on, often looking down at the side of the ship where phosphorescence would glow as waves crashed against it. I couldn’t tell you what occupied my mind for the hour before Lian came to relieve my position so I could take the helm. Helm was more interesting than usual, moving at around 5 knots and braced square with no true windward to compensate for, the needle on the compass went back and forth over my course of SSW. Often the ship was caught in a swell, the needle seemingly steady until it started to sway back and forth, still hitting the mark and then slowly veering away. I sighed, hauling the wheel and feeling for the full turn indicator – a turks head around one of the spokes – as I turned it once, twice, three times, now and then stopping to see if it would return, then adding a fourth turn. As it came back to SSW, I spun the turns off, again feeling for the indicator and hoping it would be steady when I took the turns off. If I was lucky it would and I could feel the jolt of the rudder as I tried to hold it still, the needle falling away from me again. I watched again as the glowing light in the distance passed from port to starboard. Anne-Laure suggested keeping SSW to my right as much as possible and it kept me busy for the hour.

When Lian replaced me at the wheel I made an entry in the ship’s log, noting the direction of the swell and wind, our course, the force of wind, the cloud coverage, our latitude and longitude and the number on the barometer. Then I did a ship check, starting forward checking for heat in the paint locker and rag bin and cupboard filled with linseed oil and tar, making sure the propane for the galley stove was off. Keeping my nose tuned to fire I checked around the foc’sle before going below to the forepeak (also known as the brocave), hobbling through the dark. I’ve now started holding onto the overhead to keep me steady, and to the pole the stands in front of the heavy chain locker door, peeking under with my flashlight, looking around the chain for water. Then through the salon and into the cargo hold to make sure nothing had fallen or spilled and over to the engine room where the light was on and Mark had his back to me, wearing ear muffs and flicking switches as the engine roared to life.

I finished the ship check looking through the superstructure and around it making sure lashed containers were held steady and that no waterways were leaking. Up on the quarterdeck I looked at our small boats being held by their belly gripes and then into the stack house to find nothing flammable. After reporting a good ship check to Anne, the Captain had us haul the braces and change our tack for the decrease in wind and direction as the sun began to emerge and Tahiti had changed from a glowing light to a large green hill in the distance.

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Workshop on Stowing/Furling Sails

By Chelsea McBroom

March 7th, 2014

Yesterday at 16:30 aboard the Picton Castle we had a workshop on stowing or furling sails. The Captain began by explaining that the difference between ‘stowing’ and ‘furling’ is that ‘furling’ is often the prettier version or the ‘harbour stow’, and ‘stowing’ is often used to refer to the ‘sea stow’ or the quick and ugly version.

Leaving behind the specifics on how to ‘furl’ a sail, which is the calmer process I’ve been used to, the Mate continued to explain that, especially now when we’re at sea, it is necessary to get up to the yard and stow the sail as quickly as possible, should there be a squall or storm ahead. Also, it really shouldn’t take more than one or two people to do the royal or t’gallant sails. I made sure to confirm that there was no specific way the sail needed to be folded, that it just needed to be gathered and tied. The 4-8 watch had gone aloft and unfurled the fore and main t’gallants and royals so they were ready to be stowed.

Starboard watch was given the main and port given the fore and aloft went three people at a time to practice their sea stows – one to the royal and two to the t’gallants. The rest of the watches stood by on the deck, much of them gathering forward on the focsle head or well deck to get a good view of the action above. We all cheered one another on – I was especially proud of seeing our new crew and how far they’ve come just in the last few weeks and made sure to dish out some high-fives. The rain, which seems constant these days because of monsoon season, drizzled lightly.

I too went aloft, still trying to figure out the quickest, easiest way to stow the t’gallant, never having done one side alone. Lian went aloft with me, taking the starboard side of the sail after helping me get the bunt gasket on. Meg watched us from the shrouds, timing us (the last two, Gustav and Maria, did it in five minutes) and giving tips as we went. Somewhere along the way aloft I scratched myself (my Mum always says “no bleeding and no drowning” so I said aloud that she wouldn’t be pleased) and was smearing blood on the sail. “You’ve got the sweat, now all you need is the tears,” said Meg from behind me. This was distracting at first, or that will be my excuse, as I struggled to pick up and hold the flakes of sail, doing my best to shove them into the sun-patch and heave it up onto the yard as I tied the gasket.

I couldn’t help but laugh at all the faces looking up at me, and when they called up to tell me I was wrapping the gasket around the sheet below the yard (a big no-no) I grinned, pointing at it as if to say to all of them “you mean this? right here? is this what you mean?” pretending to be clueless as they all called out and (I must admit) frustrated that I had missed such a mistake. Lian beat me down to the deck and Meg waited patiently as she always does, loving her time aloft, and we finished in seven minutes.

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Moist

By Chelsea McBroom

March 6th, 2013

I was woken up this morning at 3:30am aboard the Picton Castle by Simon with, “It’s moist with a chance of rain.” After asking him to repeat himself while in the dark foc’sle with a surprised “What did you say?!”, I giggled, still half asleep. The word ‘moist’ happens to bother some of our crew, so some are using it as much as possible. It popped up in the log book weather descriptions (but never again) and phrases like “moist away!” or “moister by the hatch!” are being used.

I can’t help but laugh because I can recall a phase where my sister couldn’t bear the word either (and maybe she still can’t and I kind of hope she’s reading this).

But besides the lowering standards of our sense of humour, the word really does apply these days. The air is dense and humid. I find myself crawling half out of my bunk at night so my head can be right beneath the foc’sle hatch to catch a breeze, and although the rain does cool things down, it means turning away the cowl vents and closing the hatches and then the breeze is lost. The Captain himself is on his last pair of dry socks and last night at muster he stood by the scuttle doors in the shadows to avoid splashes of water coming onto the deck. I was so very pleased with my dry pair of shorts this morning but I’m sorry to say every surface one can sit on is covered in drops of rain, so now is the back of my shorts.

The sky is so often overcast that it’s been days since we’ve seen the moon or any stars. Just last night I took over Doc’s position at lookout on the bridge, asking if he had anything to report – and to my disappointment not even glow in the dark mermaids or pixies could be seen – and when I commented that we couldn’t even see the moon, he pointed out the faint few stars that he had noticed, one not even a star at all but planet Venus. So I suppose we get little peeks now and then at those lovely shiny things in space, but we’re ready for clear skies and predictable weather (if that’s even a possible request).

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Night Whispers

By Anne-Laure Barberis, apprentice from France

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear them. In the middle of the night, barely audible above the sound of waves crashing on the ship and wind howling in the stays, I heard them. Very faintly at first, then, as my ear grew accustomed to the voices, I could make out the words they were saying.

– “It hurts! I’m tired to be shaken up in every direction. Make it stop!” would whine the wooden block of the inner jib sheet, also called widow-maker. “Inner Jib! Inner Jib! Lower yourself down!”

– “And how would I do that? Do you think I like it any more than you do? I am stretched to the utmost in a really uncomfortable position, and I can’t wait until this is over” replied the inner jib.

– “Well, at least you two can move”, went the anchor, “I am tied on the bow so tightly I feel the ropes will leave marks on my steel! And when I’ll be untied it will only be to be buried in some disgusting mud in the middle of jellyfishes!”

– “Hahaha!” said the bobstay grimly. “Just be happy of what you’ve got. Would you like to be in my place? I have the weight of all the rigging resting upon my chain; should I fail everything and every one of you will crash down on deck! And I never have any rest! Night or day I have to keep the tension on this chain, and this is an exhausting job, believe me!”

Out of nowhere, a very high-pitched and child-like voice spoke:

– “Why I am so low? Why am I always so low? I wanna go to the top! I wanna climb the mast and see the wonders of the world! Let me climb to the top!” After looking around for some time, I was finally able to discover
where the voice came from.

– “Don’t you dare open your mouth, you stupid piece of line”, replied the fore course, without so much as a glance to the frail ratline, the second lowest one on the starboard fore shrouds. “We don’t even need you, and if you ask me, we would be much better without you and your never-ending complaints. Climb to the top! Am I asking to climb to the top?”.

The fore course then settled in a majestic silence. She seemed to be quite happy with her job – and with herself. She stood tall and proud, her belly full of wind, looking at the horizon with such intensity that for sure, she could see things that others could not.

– “But I want to climb to the top!” whispered the ratline, just for himself.

Suddenly an anxious warning was heard:

– “Be quiet, all of you!” shouted the black and red capstan, “someone’s coming!”

Sure enough, footsteps were approaching. And all fell dead silence again.

But if you wait long enough, if you listen hard enough, you might hear them in the night…

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Lily’s Limericks

You’ve heard some of the names of the crew of the Picton Castle in these Captain’s Logs, here’s a fun way to get to know some of them better. Trainee Lily has a good sense of humour and has written limericks about many of her shipmates. These were shared aboard and got quite a laugh, we hope you enjoy them as well.

By Lily Donovan, trainee from Australia

The red head on board is called Beamy,
Peanut butter will make her feel squeemy,
But she knows all her lines,
And she climbs really high,
She always says that her head is quite teeny.

There is a young man named Nolan,
He can teach you to tie a quick bowline,
He puts food in his belly,
Wants a beard like Ned Kelly,
And at shore likes to share a cold-one.

The baby on board is called Dawson.
He is quite practically awesome.
He drools everywhere,
But he just doesn’t care,
Cause one day he’ll be Captain or Bosun.

The princess called Vai is from Tonga,
We’re glad that she’ll stay so much longer,
She takes care of the baby,
And runs her lines daily,
This combo will make her much stronger.

There was a young fella named Finn,
He seemed sometimes terribly thin,
But in his wool sweater,
He looked so much better,
‘Hobo Chic’ is definitely in.

There was a young girl called Pania,
She kept sailing to follow the summer,
She teaches us well,
And says ‘sick’, ‘bro’ and ‘swell’,
She is a very cool chic to work under.

There was a girl named Amy Adair,
She wove sandals and is sweet as a pear,
She likes to hike and take trips,
And will never eat mince
Her sail making is done with care.

Meg is our Aussie AB,
For years she has lived by the sea,
She’s an adventurous type,
Who can climb, lift and dive,
On the t’gallant she feels the most free.

There once was a sailor called Mark,
He joined the Picton but then did depart,
But he came back three times,
With knowledge of lines,
To share in the fun and skylark.

Alex is the ships engineer,
I’m sure that he likes to drink beer,
But all day he works steady,
In the ships under belly,
To make sure that the Castle will steer.

There once was a girl named Lily,
Her head filled with limericks that were silly,
Her knee was second rate,
And she liked her whiskey straight,
Learning lines sometimes sent her willy nilly.

The new guy on board is called Steve,
He seems constantly pleased,
With the funny things we say,
And the Pictionary we play,
His wise words will come as we need.

Donald is our hard working cook,
Monday to Saturday he’s kept on the hook,
To fill the holes in our bellies,
With food from the deli,
Then on Sunday he just reads his book.

The ship belongs to Captain Dan,
His whole life he’s been a sailing man,
Now he shares all he knows,
With us green fingered and toes,
So we can experience tall ships first hand.

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Chelsea’s Story

Have you ever thought about sailing a tall ship? Picton Castle accepts trainee crew members with no sailing experience needed, just a strong back and a willing heart.

The crew on all our voyages is diverse – a variety of nationalities, backgrounds and ages. We’ve asked a few of the crew who are currently aboard to tell us more about why they signed on, what life is like for them aboard and what advice they would have for anyone who might be considering a voyage with us.

By Chelsea McBroom, ship’s purser from Canada

I’ve been asking crew to think of things they would tell someone considering joining the ship and in doing so I am reminded of why I joined. To be honest I had avoided joining the ship for many years, even though it had always been on my mind, which I will attempt to summarize. I should first explain that the idea of being on the ship went against everything people in my life were doing or I suppose what was expected of me to do and it seemed a strange idea to spend my money to do such a thing – getting experience in something I wasn’t sure would apply elsewhere.

It all started when my Mum planted a seed in my imagination at a young age. My family enjoyed asking the question, “If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?” and when my sister and I were kids, my Mum answered it with saying that she would buy a sailboat we could live on, take us out of school because we’d learn more from this than we would from any textbook, and sail around the world following the coastlines. But for the longest time that idea was limited to only winning the lottery and I don’t even buy lottery tickets.

I’d lived all over British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario and had never known a sailor. As far as I was aware, people had private yachts and sailed those. It wasn’t until I met John Gallagher and Alex Brooks in 2005/6, both crew of one of the Picton Castle‘s world voyages, that the idea even remotely became a reality. I hadn’t travelled at all at the time and their sharing of stories, their confidence in what they’d seen of the world made me very curious and I was full of wonder. That year I was registered to study journalism at Centennial College and when given the opportunity to write about the ship, I took it. I wouldn’t say the story was very good… but it did give me a chance to speak to the office, the conversation ending with “You should come sail with us!” and at one point the Captain even emailed responses to my amateur questions. Even then I didn’t think it was possible to do – I was a starving student, working as a waitress to get me through each attempt (I decided journalism wasn’t creative enough for me) at college. Travelling Europe alone and later, joining Alex Brooks on a rally from England to Mongolia, seemed like goals I could reach and achieved.

Even still I could not shake the ship from my mind! There eventually came a day when a good friend of mine offered to have me work with her in Northern Alberta making really good money. At the time I was comfortable in my predictable food industry life and couldn’t imagine what I would need the money for but then… of course! I could finally sail on the Picton Castle! And so I took the job. And while I was working there I visited the ship in Lunenburg after submitting an application, meeting friends of Alex and John’s and finally meeting the Captain. It was the springtime so it was sunny and still cold. We lifted, tarred, rust-busted, scrubbed and painted – my clothes smelling of trees and ashes, my hands dirty, red and freezing and at the end of the day I was exhausted. I fell asleep feeling accomplished, passed out in a little bunk I couldn’t sit up in with a little foam mattress. In the mornings I got up and sat around a large round table in the neighbouring boat with the rest of the crew to eat breakfast (and later lunch and dinner) feeling like I’d known them forever. As a city girl I’d showered and washed my face every day at home yet I had done neither and somehow felt healthier and cleaner than ever.

I gave a raving review when I returned to my coworkers in Alberta, but then the job changed me (as working in the middle of nowhere for many months will do) causing me to believe that my savings wouldn’t be well invested – in fact I had convinced myself to stay at the job for years more to make the money I would need to become a commercial helicopter pilot (I even tried flying one). But eventually I had to face that the job itself was the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever done – believing that living for money would solve all my problems and make me happy. So I left it. Once again leaving me to wonder what I should do with myself and comforted by my savings.

I started having dreams about the ship. Sometimes they were nice romantic dreams of sails filling with wind, sometimes it was stormy and frightening which only had me waking up confused. I had avoided the ship for years now thinking I would stop wanting to be a part of it, but clearly it called to me and I could no longer ignore it. I checked the website to see if they were somewhere I hadn’t been and if there was a short leg – and there was. So I took a leap of faith; “I’m just going to go for a month, I may not even like it” I told my friends. They were laughing at me then and they’re laughing at me now having been on the ship for four more months. Apart from people in my life that can never be replaced, I don’t miss ‘real life’ at all. Coincidentally after the first month or so, my landlord didn’t like me subletting my apartment and so I was evicted, my friends having to move for me while I was away and I have no home to rush to.

My mom was right, I’ve learned more from this journey then I will ever learn from a textbook – things that cannot be included in curriculum, that a degree or certificate will never do justice. In fact if I ever go home and I explain my current life, they’ll probably all look at me confused, never quite understanding what I’ve been through. But it doesn’t matter, I will – this is for me, this is about my life and the important things I believe it should include – things that people may never have a chance to experience in a lifetime. Sure I’m broke now, sure I don’t have a house or a car or a job with steep ladder to climb, but I’m more happy than I have ever been.

Poem By Lily:

The girl by the name of McBroom,
Was meant to go home soon,
But her landlord was wack,
So she’s not going back,
She’ll continue to sail by the moon.

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Wet One

By Chelsea McBroom

March 3rd, 2014

I knew it must be close to 6am aboard the Picton Castle. I had been on lookout on the bridge for an hour (while taking in sail) and had been at the helm now for a while. I was hoping the sun would come out soon. I was standing on the windward or starboard side of the wheel, and as I put my weight on my right foot I could feel the pool of water in my boot that my foot swam in. I lowered my left arm towards the centre of the wheel and water spilled out of my jacket sleeve.

I could feel the build-up of rain that morning – it had been dark and foggy at the beginning of watch, almost claustrophobic; stuffy, without a breeze. It was just as we clewed up and took in the mainsail that it started to really pour. The lack of any natural light made it difficult to coil down the ropes we’d cast off and the any new manila kinked and twisted making it difficult to move.

When we went to take in the main t’gallant, the port clew wouldn’t come up all the way so the Captain shone a flashlight onto the yard to see as we took up on the sheet and then the clew, hoping whatever was stuck would come unstuck. As I stood at the wheel, Denise went aloft to fix it as Anne held up the light, Lily and Lian standing by on deck at the lines. It was a tangle at the sheet block and easily undone.

The sail was clewed up and we continued to stand by for further or instruction or until the rain stopped. I couldn’t stand it any longer. There was barely any wind and the helm was fairly steady so I removed my boots with my feet, then bent down to retrieve my socks and squeeze them out with one hand, water spilling onto the deck. I tucked it all away under the driest spot I could reach, relieved and barefooted. Lily, Lian, Anne, Doc and I commented on our ‘prune’ or ‘frog-like’ hands and our supposedly waterproof foul weather jackets which we could feel sticking to our skin, clearly soaked on the inside.

“Can you fall off a point to west southwest please?” said Captain John and I repeated the order. “Uh west southwest,” he says again and I repeat the order. He still sounds uncertain, “What do you have a kazoo in your mouth?” he laughs and I realize he can’t understand me because the bottom of my hood is covering my mouth. I feel as though it’s keeping my head dry but maybe I have gravity to thank for that and the water is just going elsewhere. I pry the collar of my jacket down to articulate and our course is changed with the wind.

It’s just before the end of the hour when Denise leaves her lookout point and comes to relieve me of my position. The rain has stopped and our hoods are removed so we are able to breathe freely or hear and speak clearly again. There’s a break amongst the complete cloud coverage above us – a thin layer of glowing blue and I cross my fingers that it continues to get brighter.

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