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On Our Way To Tonga

By Chelsea McBroom

April 20th, 2014

The Picton Castle couldn’t sit around waiting for the wind to pick up, so we motored for a couple of days, with fore and aft sails, until we found enough wind to carry us to Tonga. The day came and hands were called to go aloft and loose. The Mate’s 8-12 watch helped us set the upper topsails and fore course before ending their watch and we handled the rest, coiling down the mess. The motor was turned off so all we could hear was the splash of the waves against the side of the ship and the wind in our ears.

I may be the only one who noticed the breeze get cooler, especially at night. The nights have been brightly moonlit and covered in stars and I’ve been wearing my windbreaker at helm and lookout. Captain seems to think my blood temperature has changed and laughs seeing a Canadian wearing a coat in 20 degree weather. I realize my friends back at home would slap me, having had to endure the cold winter.

The breeze makes for lovely sunny days on board and although we miss our bosun terribly, many crew have spent their time on deck doing salty things she used to do like carving, splicing, tarring, replacing ratlines aloft and enjoying the comfortable weather. So far our workshops at 1630 on the hatch have included Doctor Peter Sharp telling us some of his practicing secrets, Captain John Beebe-Center teaching us the herringbone, double baseball and t-stitch using a plywood technique, and Chief Mate Dirk explaining the codes and use of international flag signals. Crew are especially keen, now that they realize how much time is passing, to learn as much as they can before the ship arrives in Fiji.

The Captain has given people the opportunity to try calling orders for setting and taking in sails, so during watches, the less experienced get to practice. It forces those who try it to think about things like, instead of what lines need to be pulled, how a royal should be braced while being hauled up or eased down, or how a fore or aft sail should be trimmed. Once again, like when we sailed from New Zealand, we find ourselves with a small but very strong crew and I’m very proud of everyone’s hard work and whole hearted participation.

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