Captain's Log

Archive for March, 2015

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Day’s Run – March 12, 2015

Crossed the equator at twenty past midnight and longitude 029° 31.4’W. PICTON CASTLE is back in the Northern Hemisphere for the fist time since Panama in November 2012.
Neptune’s Court is delayed due to squally weather, but expected any day now.
SHIPS WORK: Rainy day projects: cleaning breezeway and aloha deck overhead, organize hold, splice foretopmast staysail sheet pennant, spot paint black aft, work on building a main mast for SYDNEY, wire seizings for stirrups on fore royal yard.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -2
NOON POSITION: 00°18.5’N /030°15.9’W
DAYS RUN: 100 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,831 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 1,988 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West 1/2 West, Course made good 293° true, 4.7 knots
WIND: Wind Force 3-4, North East by East
WEATHER: Fair, 7/8 cloud cover, barometer 1015 millibars and steady, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: East 1-2 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced up on the starboard tack. All headsails except the flying jib, main topmast staysail, and mizzen topmast staysail also set.
Nice weather between squalls_ Sam B on helm
Nice weather between squalls, Sam B on the helm

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Day’s Run – March 11, 2015

We wore ship from port to starboard tack yesterday, and now we’re making more westing and skirting the equator – the line was just 22 nautical miles to our north at noon and the pollywogs are getting nervous.
SHIPS WORK: Work on the cap stay continues, spot painted buff aft and varnish on the main deck pin rails, more varnish on the quarterdeck boxes, and yet more varnish on the royal yard plus paint on the yard hardware. Sailmakers have been seaming up a new topmast studding sail on the small machine, and they finished seaming and started tabling today. In the photo, Nicole is working on seaming up a new inner jib. Ditty bag workshop for new hands and the celestial navigation workshop was at the worked example stage of stars sights.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -2
NOON POSITION: 00°21.9’S /028°47.4’W
DAYS RUN: 71 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,731 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,080 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West by North, Course made good 301° true, 3.0 knots
WIND: Wind Force 2-3, North East by East
WEATHER: Fair, 3/8 cloud cover, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility very good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South South East 1-2 m
SAILS SET: All sails set, braced up on the starboard tack
Nicole seaming a new inner jib
Nicole seams a new inner jib

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Day’s Run – March 10, 2015

Dolphins came to play in the bow wave today, maybe 15 of them including a tiny baby, they stayed for a good half hour rolling over each other and leaping and diving before gambolling off to port.
SHIPS WORK: Service on the lower end of new cap stay, two coats of varnish on new fore royal yard, spot paint stone aft, work on building a rudder for the Palmerston-built small boat, SYDNEY, sand and varnish port main pin rail, varnish box tops on quarterdeck, and paint black trim in the monomoy.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -2
NOON POSITION: 00°50.9’S /027°46.1’W
DAYS RUN: 80 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,660 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,150 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West by North 1/2 North, Course made good 304° true, 3.8 knots
WIND: Wind Force 3-4, East North East
WEATHER: Fair, 2/8 cloud cover, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility very good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South South East 1-2 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced up on the starboard tack. Spanker, all three jibs, gaff topsail, and all staysails set.
dolphins under bowsprit
Dolphins playing in the bow wake under the bowsprit

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Morning 4 to 8 Watch, Approaching the Equator

Studdingsail Tradewind Dawn

We came up on the quarterdeck this morning for watch at 0400 to find the ship sailing along easily under studding sails on a big moon, shimmering sea night. A warm easterly trade wind was blowing softly over the starboard quarter. Yards are braced ahead from square a point or so. The old patched fair-weather square-sails bent on for this trade-wind passage from Africa to the West Indies catch this gentle breeze and pull us along at five knots in small seas. Even the studding sails are patched. How many ships have made that claim in a very long time? There is some charm in having patched studding sails. With a full moon in the sky, dappled shades of moon and star lights on the seas and clouds making piles of white here and there all around us, this is very much a Bill Gilkerson painting of an olde tyme sailing ship at sea. I am pretty sure I can see the indistinct form of a pirate skull in a cloud passing on starboard.

The helmsman stands to windward of the large teak wheel getting used to the night, the compass and the wind. The new lookout heads forward to relieve the old lookout on the foc’sle head. The watch sit on the vegetable lockers on the quarterdeck waiting their turn at helm or lookout or to be called to sail handling in the shades of bluish grey of
this moonlit night well advanced into morning. The spanker boom moans and chirps gently from time to time in the gentle roll. The only other sounds are the occasional clunk of the steering gear from the rudder fetching up in the following seas and the ocean bubbling past along the waterline either side. Some sea bird has perched on the starboard main royal yardarm, hitching a ride, easy to see in silhouette against the bright dark sky. The port running light lantern casts a red glow on the port tack and sheet of the foresail as the lower studding sail on starboard gets a bit of green loom from the other lantern.

Time moves on and now a yellow light comes piercing out of the lee galley door as the cook, Mr. Church, starts his daily chores banging pots and pans around. The hand water pump starts a-pumping, which pretty much signals the beginning of the day aboard this ship. Our young Swedish lead seaman gets her watch started up, rolls out the hose for a deck scrub. Getting pretty light in the east now. The tops of the tall clouds off to leeward get the first sunlight and glow a yellow pink. Cats rubbing up looking for attention and a renewed food bowl no doubt. Not a peep out of the two and a half year old sleeping below. White chalky plops on deck underneath the royal yardarm hosting our feathered hitchhiker.

The days comes in fair and partly cloudy with a couple scattered light rain squalls off in the distance, thin sheets of rain slanting beneath them benignly. There is no power in these squalls right now. For this we are grateful as this can easily change. We have a new royal yard just completed on saw-horses on the main deck, which needs many coats of varnish before securing foot ropes and sent aloft for crossing. Long sausages of sails are getting lumped up to the quarterdeck, soon they cover the poop in lots of clean canvas as we sew up all the sails laid out and cut in Cape Town. The rigging gang is renewing hemp ratlines and serving in the rig here and there. Foot ropes get sent down one at a time for overhauling. They just made a new mainstay and next up is a new cap-stay. Big wire, big splices, pretty big wire seizings. And a hundred other jobs in the rig.

The galley bell rings signalling first breakfast back aft in the warm breeze for the eight to twelve watch which will take over the deck very shortly.

Full moon last night
Dark sky at sea

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Day’s Run – March 9, 2015

Saw a big mahi mahi jump several feet out of the water today, just off the port beam – it looked like it was being chased by dolphins. Nothing on the fishing lines though, maybe we’re not going fast enough to be tempting. We seem to be past the worst of the squalls now, and getting close to the equator. Celestial navigation workshop on star sights today.
SHIPS WORK: Grease fore upper topsail downhaul pennants, leather on fore royal yoke, 2 coats of varnish on the fore royal yard, varnish quarterdeck boxes and wheel box, paint stone thwarts in Monomoy, rust bust fore lower shrouds shackles, work on new fore topmast staysail sheet pennants, and take measurements for fore royal brace pennants. Ship’s cat Suva guarded the sailmakers’ bag.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 01°23.7’S /026°40.2’W
DAYS RUN: 96 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,580 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,224 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North by 1/2 West, Course made good 335° true, 4.3 knots
WIND: Wind Force 4, South East by South
WEATHER: Fair, 5/8 cloud cover and squalls on the horizon, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility very good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South East 1-2 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced a point off square. Spanker, gaff topsail, all headsails and all staysails set.
Suva guarding the sailmaking bag
One of the ship’s cats, Suva, assists with security for the sailmakers

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Day’s Run – March 8, 2015

Sunday at sea. More squalls, alternating beautiful sunshine and heavy, soaked-to-the-underwear showers. Amy and Turi organised a games afternoon in the salon before supper with popcorn – pictionary, backgammon and a very silly pirate card game were the most popular.
SHIPS WORK: No ship’s work today, but lots of sail handling and bracing for the watch on deck and anyone else passing by at the right moment. Doctor Charlotte and Anne-Mette were our cooks for the day, making a tasty
Mexican themed supper.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 02°28.1’S /025°34.7’W
DAYS RUN: 94 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,484 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,312 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North by West, Course made good 317° true, 4.7 knots
WIND: Wind Force 4, East South East
WEATHER: Fair, 7/8 cloud cover and squalls on the horizon, barometer 1015 millibars and steady, visibility very good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South East 1-2 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced a point off square. Spanker, gaff topsail, all headsails and all staysails set.
Sian_ Ryan_ Turi and Amy set the spanker after a squall
Sian, Ryan, Turi and Amy set the spanker after a squall

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Day’s Run – March 7, 2015

Sunshine and squalls all day today. Heavy, tropical rain in the squalls – enough for a fresh-water shampoo and rinse, but more importantly some of the squalls bring wind shifts and gusts – the crew need to be snappy at taking in the light-air sails, and bracing around while the helmsman bears away to keep the wind aft of the square sails to make sure we don’t break anything in the rig. Then, squall passed we set everything and brace back again to get back on course. It means lots of running around and getting soaked for the watch on deck, but it makes the watch fly by, and great training in sail handling and weather awareness. And it’s plenty warm here in the tropics so nobody much minds a soaking.
SHIPS WORK: A squally Saturday, so no big projects today – sailmakers continue grommeting and roping, riggers are patch serving on a footrope and the tack for the main topmast staysail, the royal yard got a coating of wood preservative before the varnishing starts, and the bosun snuck in some small spot painting between rain showers.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 03°00.0’S /024°16.4’W
DAYS RUN: 123 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,390 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,401 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North North West, Course made good 305° true, 4 knots
WIND: Wind Force 3, East South East
WEATHER: Fair, 5/8 cloud cover, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South East by South 1 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced square. All headsails except the flying jib and all staysails set.
Sam B mends a tear in the fore lower topsail
Sam B from Bermuda mends a tear in the fore lower topsail

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Day’s Run – March 6, 2015

Another fine day of trade wind sailing. A sea bird came to hang out on the aloha deck rail today – from the bird book I think was a noddy. And a very happy birthday to Mark B, who celebrated his 50th onboard today – Elvira made a great cake for the occasion.
SHIPS WORK: Attached the yoke to the royal yard today and the jackstays. More varnish on the quaterdeck mahogany deck boxes. Tacked the stunsails. Dkembe and Billy did some work on the port generator – in the picture Dkembe is helping to make a valve adjustment. Sailmakers are working on the finish work for a new course and two new jibs – lots of roping and grommeting!
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 04°12.5’S /022°41.1’W
DAYS RUN: 110 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,267 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,509 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West by North, Course made good 290° true, 5.4 knots
WIND: Wind Force 3, East South East
WEATHER: Fair, 6/8 cloud cover, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South East 1 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced square. All headsails except the flying jib and all staysails set.
Dkembe in the engine room
Dkembe from Bermuda makes a valve adjustment in the engine room

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Day’s Run – March 5, 2015

Perfect weather so the Captain held a dinner last night for a handful of invited crew – it’s nice to get dressed up and eat at a table once in a while. Donald made a wonderful supper of steak, wedges, coleslaw and broccoli.
SHIPS WORK: Fairing royal yard and attaching the hardware today. Varnish on the starboard pin rail, a second coat on port and varnish for the mahogany deck boxes on the quarterdeck too. Riggers are overhauling footropes – grease on the wire, parcelling and serving where needed, canvas sewn on against chafe, diamond lashings to re-attach the stirrups and then lots and lots of pine tar before it’s sent aloft again. A full coat of surf grey paint inside the monomoy and she’s looking much better for it, and sailmaking continues.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 04°48.4’S /020°56.2’W
DAYS RUN: 133 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,157 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,625 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West, Course made good 302° true, 5.6 knots
WIND: Wind Force 3, South by East
WEATHER: Fair, 2/8 cloud cover, barometer 1017 millibars and steady, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South 1 m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced square. All headsails,
staysails, the spanker and gaff topsail set.
Aaron and Diana set the main topgallant staysail
Aaron and Diana set the main t’gallant staysail

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Day’s Run – March 4, 2015

The trade winds gradually filled in again overnight and have been gradually building to a pleasant force four breeze – it’s good to be moving again!
SHIPS WORK: Fairing the royal yard, varnished the port pin rail, spot grey paint in Monomoy, replaced flying jib downhaul block. Sailmakers continue to work on several different sails, while carpenter Joe does some more carpentry work on the quarterdeck and the riggers overhaul a footrope.
BOUND FROM: James Bay, St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
TOWARDS: Grenada, Windward Islands, Caribbean Sea
TIME ZONE: GMT -1
NOON POSITION: 05°45.0’S /018°56.9’W
DAYS RUN: 86 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1,024 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 2,756 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: North West, Course made good 301° true, 6.4 knots
WIND: Wind Force 4-5, South by East
WEATHER: Fair, 5/8 cloud cover, barometer 1016 millibars and steady, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: South South East 1-2m
SAILS SET: All square sails set, braced square. All headsails,
staysails, and the spanker set.
Scott working on the royal yard
Scott working on the royal yard

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