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Chasing Pins

By Chelsea McBroom

March 30th, 2014

I like to think about my first month aboard the Picton Castle, when there were nearly fifty people aboard sailing from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. That was nearly six months ago now. One of the best things about being aboard the ship, and also maybe one of the hardest, is seeing such great people come and go. There were a lot of wonderful people that came aboard that leg and unfortunately left at the end of it, but I feel like we took advantage of that month on the ship.

I’m recalling the Seamanship Derby, when the watches dressed up in team spirited attire, challenging each other to a competitions in pinrail chase, knot tying, helm, and boxing the compass. In the boxing the compass challenge, the watch stood in a circle on the hatch, being given the coordinates and direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) on the compass to begin, and each person saying aloud the next coordinate. North, North by East, North North East, East by North, East, etc. It could be easy, but it required a lot of focus or concentration as the other teams yelled and distracted the players.

For the helm challenge, the chosen helmsman of the watch had to take the wheel and stay on course within 5 degrees. Whoever stayed on course the longest won. One team had squirt guns and aimed water at the helmsman’s faces, they didn’t play nice.

In knot tying each person on a team had to complete a knot individually and the whole team had to finish together before the others. The last, most exciting of challenges, was the pinrail chase. The Captain would call out a line of running rigging on a pin or sometimes even an object like a cowl vent or our dory, Sea Never Dry and one person from each team (lined up parallel on the main deck) would quickly walk to find it before the others. Teammates would shout at one another, giving direction and words of encouragement until someone found and placed their hand on the pin as one of the judges stationed around the ship would call the winner.

Points were given to the teams with the most “pizzazz” or that managed to bribe the judges the most often. I was on the competitive team that played nice, so we didn’t win. But I still laugh thinking of it.

I was reminded of that day because yesterday the Captain had a pinchase at 1630 with port watch against starboard watch and the swell of competitive team spirit was alive once more. It was a really great opportunity to show support for our fellow team mates and the winners were given a bucket of chocolate ice cream and a bag of spoons by our cook, Lily. I’m sure the losing team had the last laugh though, when hands were called to stow sails aloft, and starboard watch had a belly full of ice cream.

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