Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
By Kate “Bob” Addison
Thursday July 3, 2014
I’m sitting in the mess room of Picton Castle as we lie here at anchor off Suva, Fiji. We just finished a delicious supper of chicken parmigiana, eaten snug down below round the varnished tables of the main salon because it’s been such a rainy day here.
The first day of rain this week, it’s been glorious sunshine up ’til today and we’ve been getting lots of work and training done on deck and taking the monomoy out every day to learn rowing and small boat handling as well.
We had a great row in the monomoy today, over to the yacht club for showers and sodas and then back to the ship in time for supper. Watch Officer Mark R, Gabe and Alex took turns with Amy as coxswains, practicing pivoting in small circles and coming alongside a big pontoon moored out in the bay here. The rowing team were starboard watch of Mark B, Christian, Rob and Aaron. Carpenter Joe and I tagged along too for the fun and exercise. It was grey and rainy, windy and choppy, which I found exhilarating, but maybe I’ve just spent too long sailing in the English Channel. Most people were in waterproofs but I figured swimsuit and a shirt would do just as well – tropical rain is very wet but hardly cold!
Yesterday was the turn of port watch, with Axel, Erin, Murray, Allafia, Nicole, Bruce and Luke rowing to the yacht club for showers – they had less exciting weather and a dryer time of it with perfect sunshine, and their rowing was impressive, especially given it was only the second time out for some of the gang.
In between rowing we’ve been working on a bunch of different things: mastering some of the most important knots, working through the handbooks to understand the ship’s standing orders and basic operating procedures. Today the watches were learning how to do a decent ship check which involves going through the whole ship with an AB, learning to sound bilges and where to check for fire or flood, valves left open or lights left on. It also includes essentials, such as what to do if you find something in the hold that’s come unlashed or un-stowed, or much worse, if the coffee pot is empty.
The watch officers took a group at a time through basic VHF radio protocol today too so they know what to say, and maybe more importantly what not to say, on the radio should they ever need to use one.
For ship’s work the spot painting continues, there’s always something that needs painting, and we also overhauled all of our climbing harnesses so they are good to go whenever the weather decides to cooperate with our aloft training, hopefully tomorrow.
The other big job has been over at our ‘sail loft’ in the Royal Suva Yacht Club – we’ve pulled all of the sails out of the hold so they can be inspected and a plan made to repair and make new sails as required. The ship carries a suit of 10 square sails at any time, as well as headsails, spanker, kites and stunsails so that’s a whole lot of canvas before you even start on the spares and unfinished new sails. With manpower from the whole crew to get all the sails up on deck and then into the skiff, Tammy and Amy have been doing sterling work sorting through them, ably assisted by Bruce, Mark B and Nicole at various times. Captain’s been spending a fair amount of time in the sail loft too, giving instruction and helping make the plan of action to make the best use of the sails that we already have.
Rowing the monomoy
Rowing past Picton Castle