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Getting Ready to Leave Fiji

By Kate “Bob” Addison

July 30th, 2014

Another week has flown by aboard the Picton Castle, anchored here off Suva, Fiji, as we make the final preparations to set sail. Since my head has been stuffed with check lists of things to do and buy for the last couple of weeks, I find myself unable to think in anything but lists. So here’s a list of some of what we’ve been up to:

*Sail drill – practicing setting and striking all square and fore-and-aft sails and bracing around – lots of this and important with so many new crew.

*Man Overboard training and drills: especially launching and recovering the boats quickly and safely; location and use of all gear; most importantly how to not fall overboard in the first place.

*Abandon Ship orientation and drill – location and use of gear, and discussion of some possible scenarios; PFDs, exposure suits, life-rafts and extra supplies etc.

*Long Boat rowing practice – rowing monomoy ashore and around the harbour, practicing getting faster, more accurate and more in time – great crew building skills in this and fun too.

*Skiff practice – getting better at docking at the yacht club and the ship, dealing with different conditions of wind and tide.

*Laying out and cutting a new mainsail at the Royal Suva Yacht Club: seaming it up on the machine and then doing second lay out. Now started on tabling, corner patches and sun patch.

*Drying sails every time it rains: running aloft to lose sails, flashing them out briefly to shake the water off and stowing them again once dry.

*Fixing up the clew of a jib for a yachty where it had chafed through.

*Making friends with the crew of the three-masted schooner Alvei and exchanging ship tours.

*Tours of the ship for 35 cadets from the Fiji Maritime Academy.

*Fixing up the fabulous dory Sea Never Dry and hoisting her onto of the galley house along with Sydney and the semi-dory.

*Provisioning – shopping for enough food, coffee and cleaning supplies to last from here to Bali – frozen meat, fish and cheese, tinned fruit and veg, dried staples, cake ingredients and popcorn, hot sauce, noodles, tea, six sacks of spuds and two of onions, a boat load of fresh fruit and vegetables 600 eggs…

*Buying supplies – sand paper, epoxy, paint, barrels of oil, water filters, timber, and all sorts of parts and supplies for the engineering department.

*Re-filling our galley propane tanks and lashing them back in the breezeway.

*Stowing the ship. All that stuff we just bought? It’s all unpacked, organised and stowed. Hold, freezers and lockers cleaned out first, eggs greased so they last longer. An everything lashed down again.

So we’re almost ready to sail now: new crew are getting pretty handy and getting to know their ship pretty well. Routines have become well, routine, and things like running aloft and running the boats are starting to seem like a normal part of our day. No worries, we got it.

We have supplies and provisions bought and stowed, all the ship’s boats back alongside or already hoisted. Engineering department is good to go with a new battery bank installed, and water makers, pumps, generators, freezers and main engine all in great condition. Ship’s docotr Murray has his medical supplies neatly organised in sea chests, and four able assistants trained up as chief first aiders. Ship’s cook Donald has his galley, freezers and fruit and vegetable lockers stowed as he wants them.

We’ve drilled and exercised with all our emergency gear, and started to get good at launching and recovering the boats. We’ve drilled in sail handling too, as well as hoisting the anchor with the windlass, and hoisting boats, barrels and other heavy loads using strops and tackles. We’ve painted and varnished and oiled and greased the ship/rig/deck as appropriate. We’ve learned some knots and splices, how to do mousings (to secure the pin to the shackle – especially important for shackles aloft), and good technique for preparing and applying coatings. We’ve become good at scullery routine, standing anchor watches and how to do a proper wake up (without waking the rest of the ship).

So after all this prep it seems we’re almost ready to sail now – this week is the plan!
Hoisting SND-1 compressed

Hoisting Sea Never Dry, our colourful dory built at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg, atop the galley house

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