Captain's Log

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First Two Weeks in Bali

By Kate “Bob” Addison

October 17th, 2014

It’s been almost two weeks since the last log from the Picton Castle at anchor here in Bali. Our feeble excuse is simply that we’ve been so busy working hard, though the real excuse is that Bali is full of shiny things and very distracting.

We’ve been very busy aboard the ship, and busy enjoying our time ashore in delightful Bali too. With 25 new crew joining the ship here in Bali there is a happy buzz about the ship similar start of a long voyage rather than just the start of a new leg. And what a start! From Bali we will head offshore and find ourselves immediately in the open Indian Ocean. It will be more than three thousand nautical miles and maybe five weeks sailing before we see land again. Hardly a day sail! So there’s a lot to do to make sure the ship and crew are ready before we heave up our anchor, loose all sails and set our course towards Africa.

We started off with all hands onboard every day, working through basic orientation initial safety training and some deck seamanship: conservation of water and electricity, ship’s routines, lifejackets and life-rafts, fire prevention and fire fighting, parts of the ship, names of the lines, how to make a line off on a pin correctly and then coil down properly so the lines won’t get washed back off the pin by the next wave. How to clean the ship quickly and well and how to do both soapy deck wash and soapy dish wash efficiently. Apart from anything else to learn there’s just so much nautical vocabulary that all seems obvious after a few weeks or months onboard, but totally alien at the beginning. So we have to learn to soogee the scuttles and tar the turning blocks, but first what all of those words mean. It’s much more fun actually doing it here in the sunshine than sitting at home reading Patrick O’Brien.

A couple of days in it was time for people to climb aloft, some for the first time ever on any ship, exciting! Everyone did a great job and we obviously have some natural climbers aboard. Even the people who prefer to keep their feet closer to the deck made it, no problems. Everybody climbed up as far as the fore top (the crescent shaped platform around the fore mast, about a third of the way up), and then aloft again shortly after, this time laying out on the fore yard, feet balanced on the served wire rope that’s stretched along for the purpose, hands gripping onto the jack stay welded to the top of the yard. There’s a back rope of very strong wire rope lashed behind your back, and your harness is clipped into this as you step out onto the yard so it’s quite safe, but you must pay attention and you are rewarded with a great view you get from up there! And all the while our experienced crew are strategically placed to help people find their feet. I got to hang out on the main top for a while to watch the climbers and take some photos – so nice to be aloft for a couple of hours, watching how well everyone did and enjoying the views and sea breezes.

We also had a small film crew aloft as people were climbing – they are making short web pilots, which will hopefully turn into a proper documentary about the ship in the near future. They were a great team, and it was fun to have them aboard. It’s always interesting to get a different perspective on our little world – to see the drama in the things we take for granted and the excitement in what we find so matter of fact. Very neat. So watch out for the pilots online next year!

Now we’ve been here for a couple of weeks and the watches are alternating each aboard for two days looking after the ship and continuing with training; the next two off to explore Bali. Aboard we’ve been instructing and drilling in loosing and furling sails, bracing around, and setting and taking in all sails. Also lots of rowing the long boat round the harbour – the current rips through here, and there are plenty of other vessels to avoid, so the crew need to be able to pull well together (less like weak kittens, the Captain says). The coxswain needs to be smart and snappy at issuing orders too so the boat can turn on a sixpence and come alongside fast without smashing the boat, ship or dock. They are getting better!

We’ve also been working on getting people more experienced running the 20 foot Cape Islander skiff with the outboard engine – it’s good seamanship for people to be in charge of their own little boat, and it’s relatively sheltered here, and no coral to hit so not a bad place to learn. Amy, as our resident small boat instructor, has been quizzing people on their book-based homework and testing their driving skills before Captain finally signs them off as coxswains under power, and thus qualified to run the boat unsupervised.

So that’s a brief update on training and our Life & Times in Bali – you’ll have to read the next log for an update on ship’s work and to find out about our adventures ashore at this magic island.

Alex and Erin look out over Benoa Harbour

Lead seamen Alex and Erin look out over Benoa Harbour from the fore top

Axel being filmed in monomoy

Axel being filmed in the monomoy

Kelley and Simon up and over

Kelley and Simon climb “up and over”

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