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Fiji – The Start of a Voyage

By Kate “Bob” Addison

June 30, 2014

I started writing this log on Monday afternoon, and it’s now Thursday morning. Apart from how badly I procrastinate, that says something about how busy life is aboard Picton Castle at the start of a voyage….

Our crew for this first leg have arrived now, and we’re excited to have them aboard. There’s a good energy on board and the focus has shifted away from shipyard mode into full voyage mode. There’s still lots to do to get the ship ready to sail, but it’s at least equally important to get our new crew ready to sail, and that means a whole world of orientation and training.

Trainee crew who’ve never stepped foot on a sailing ship, and experienced professional mariners alike need to be fully oriented with the ship: all of her compartments, equipment, routines and procedures. And that’s before we even start learning the 175 lines of running rigging, standing rigging, sail handling and the rest. I find having brand new crew on board is a good reminder of just how much knowledge we take for granted in this sailing ship life.

So we started off in groups with hour-long orientations lead by Gabe, Erin and myself, walking all over the ship, pointing out the two exits from every compartment, where the light switches are and that they should be switched off when not needed, where the marine toilets are and how to use them, how to take a sea-shower that conserves fresh water. Basic emergency actions to be taken before we’ve done our thorough emergency muster station walk through and drills. Chain of command and privacy considerations. What to do with rubbish on board, where’s good to hang out, where not so much. How to live with lots of other people on a long voyage in a small ship. Picton Castle is actually plenty spacious, but not if every body leaves their belongings all over the place or runs around tuning their radios or practicing their opera singing at midnight – it’s certainly a higher population density than most people are used to!

After orientation the watches were given jobs on deck in the sunshine: spot painting, varnishing the ship’s wheel, oiling the decks. But this is really all orientation too – how to mix paint to the proper consistency for painting in the tropics, how much turpentine to add to the linseed oil to keep the pine decks protected and happy, and how to not tramp oily footprints all over the ship when it’s done. Where to find cleaning supplies, clean rags and deck brushes and who to ask if you’re not sure about something.

It seems there’s a huge amount of basic domestic living to learn before we even start on the salty stuff. But there’s plenty of that to come too!

Mixing paint

Mixing paint at the paint locker

Painting topsides

Painting topisdes from the skiff

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