Captain's Log

Archive for July, 2015

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Day’s Run – July 29, 2015

The fact that we had to motor for a little bit this morning was more than made up for when, during the afternoon, we tacked the ship about four times then sailed onto the hook for the evening. While the tacking is going on there is so much to do it can be hard to notice anything other than the fact that the ship is now going in another direction. If you look beyond the stern though, you can see the actual skid mark left by the ship on the water and you quickly realize just how much the ship moved around. For a bit of a breather the Captain led a workshop on six or seven different types of coils that can be used on the ship. Immediately we put the running coil and ballantine coil to good use.

SHIP’S WORK: Spot painted t’gallant rail white plus red trim; two coats of primer on mizzen shrouds, quarterdeck stanchion and starboard davits; oiled blocks aloft on mizzen and foremast; patch service mizzen topmast stay and inner jib stay.

Capt. Sikkema Coiling Workshop

Capt. Sikkema Coiling Workshop

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°24.0’N /068°56.1’W
DAYS RUN: 19 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1827.4 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 377 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: Northeast, CMGT 009, 2.4 kts
WIND: Northeast, 2
WEATHER: Barometer 1017, 6/8 cs cu, good visibility
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: n/a
SAILS SET: All sails.

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Day’s Run – July 28, 2015

Always expect the unexpected on the Picton Castle. When pulling up anchor this morning it was looking like we would have to motor for a good portion of today’s journey. Not so – rather we sailed, albeit slowly, to our next destination. Upon arrival we furled sails faster than normal as a thunderstorm was on route to overtake us. Next up, the Second Mate gave us a talk about the rules and regulations of marine craft in the salon as the rain pelted the deck above. And then there was birthday cake!

SHIP’S WORK: Fire and abandon ship drills; replaced buntline on upper tops’l starboard side.

Sounding Lesson

Sounding Lesson

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°07.9’N /069°002.2’W
DAYS RUN: 3.5 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1808.6 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 396 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: East northeast, CMGT 028, 1.3 kts
WIND: Southeast, 3
WEATHER: Barometer 1019, fair visibility
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: Southeast, < 1 SAILS SET: All sails.

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Day’s Run – July 27, 2015

Today might be the first time ever aboard the Picton Castle that I was a tiny bit glad for the persistent not so great weather. Rather than leave Rockland amidst a bank of fog the Captain made the call for us to stay another night. What did this mean? It meant that after lunch the chief mate led us in a Seamanship Derby! Crazy outfits, blatant sabotage and a whole lot of laughter followed us through a pinrail chase, mock sail handling and boxing the compass. The fun did not end there though – we also had lessons on driving the skiff, working the lead line and to top the day off a mousing workshop. If we couldn’t sail then I say we filled up the day beautifully anyway.

SHIP’S WORK: Primed mizzen shroud shackles and bottlescrews; primed quarterdeck stanchion and starboard davits; skiff training; lead line training; mousing workshop.

Skiff training

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°06.0’N /069°05.7’W
DAYS RUN: 0 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1804.2 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 400 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: n/a
WIND: n/a
WEATHER: Barometer 1020
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: n/a

SAILS SET: None – anchored

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Captains Log – Perspectives

Written by Ashley Mulock

Being someone who sailed on the last leg of the PICTON CASTLE’S sixth world voyage and then immediately signed on for the Tall Ship Festivals along the northeast coast of the United States, I have certainly noticed some differences between the two trips. Taking into account what has changed for me – the addition of Purser duties; dayman schedule in ports; ship’s photographer; more experienced deckhand (in comparison to most of the new trainees); and someone to have a few answers instead of just questions – there remains a different feel to the trip. The fundamentals of the ship have not changed, rather the focus of the ship’s journey.

Travelling around the world in any way is an education. It this case, it is a full emersion into the way of life aboard a tall ship that sails as it would have a hundred years ago. Your ego is checked at the gangway as even if you know sailing you don’t know this kind of sailing. Much as you would in the military, you learn not to question the orders but to follow them. It is easy to say that ‘the Captain is King’ until you realize that this individual person is actually responsible for your life while aboard the ship. For your life. Let that sink in for a moment. Is any task too menial to complete if it means the Captain can keep his focus on the sailing and safety of the ship instead of whether or not the heads are clean? I think not. Your individual self must be pushed dormant as the needs of the ship come first, above all. You may wonder why the chain of command has you scrubbing dishes instead of up on the yards until you realize that we all must be willing and able to do everything the ship demands of us. We don’t get the glory jobs if our hands aren’t already callused from the ordinary ones. For some this pill is a little hard to swallow while for others it’s not a problem at all. From personal experience, the moment I fully learned, appreciated and surrendered to this lesson I was given more interesting tasks to complete.

Travelling up and down the coast is a little different. The needs of the ship still, and always, comes first – that is not the change. Instead it is the continuity of life aboard. I’ve come to learn that during the tall ship festival circuit there are many port and anchor stops to make, often only days apart. The legs of the journey are usually shorter and the crew changes larger. The orientation, ship life and sail handling lessons come fast and furious. By necessity, a huge whack of information is thrown at people incredibly quickly, of which the most important are the safety drills and how to coil a line properly. It’s not at all unusual to see a seasoned crew member take a newbie aside and say ‘find someone to shadow, someone you connect with – they will not say no and you will understand and feel more in control of what is happening around you if you do so’. This was certainly the best advice I received during my first few days aboard.

rope

During the world voyages the ship is crossing massive bodies of water for weeks at a time. Routines form, stress eases and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed begins to dissipate as life out at sea takes over. This is in fairly sharp contrast during the tall ship festivals because we are never too far from land. For most, it is harder to get into the routine of the ship when there is not a block of time away from the distraction of land. Captain Sikkema certainly seems to be of this thought as well for whenever possible we are not attached to a dock or land of any kind. Cell phones are limited to a small area of the ship and resources must be treated as they would be if replenishment was not attainable. What it comes down to is attached to land we are, in a way, tall ship sellers whereas out to sea we are purely tall ship sailors.

Tall ship festivals themselves are a world unto themselves compared to what I would normally be doing when out to sea. There, one of the highlights of my day may be to go to the royal yard to let loose sail while the sun is peaking over the horizon. During the festivals I count myself lucky if I fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow instead of in my dinner bowl. Holy wow, are they busy days! We have just finished the last of our four festival stops for the season – Cape Charles VA, Philly PA/Camden NJ, Greenport NY and Portland ME. I can safely say that the organizers and visitors of these events are utterly amazing. Each festival has, from our perspective, gone seamlessly. Any problems we did have were over before they really began. Transportation for provisioning or ships laundry was always at the ready and the location to hot showers, ice cream, coffee and beer all but drawn out on a map for us.

From my location at the ship’s store we set up on the hatch, I am fortunate to be able to speak to almost everyone who passes me by. What I like the most is that our guests are genuinely interested in answers to their questions. At times, they listen so intently that when I tell them the large uncut timber beams on board are cat scratching posts or that a fid is a sailor’s toothpick, it takes a heartbeat or two for them to realize that I am joking! Over the combined total of 12 festival days I have found there are two overall comments repeatedly stated. One, how amazing and ‘real’ the ship seems. With the Bosun, and perhaps a few crew members, often working on ship’s projects during tours many people get to see first hand how, for example, a serving is done. Not a single other ship I have visited has had such activity going on during deck tours. Two, most folks are often in awe that we are brave enough to spend our time living this adventure. Personally I think being married and having kids is a scarier adventure than what I’m doing, but hey, to each their own.

Sponsor receptions are interesting events aboard the PICTON CASTLE. Normally they are catered affairs with musicians, alcohol and a whole tonne of people. It is our job to not only make sure the attendees remain safe but to also give a good name to the ship by our behaviour. Our crew has done an amazing job. Depending a little on the ‘dress’ of the evening, it is not unusual for our watches to show up at work in their crew t-shirts and sarongs, and the party goers love it. This is, after all, the personality and spirit that the PICTON CASTLE is known for and we do well to showcase honestly who and what we are. Besides, it’s not like any of us have much in the way of tidy clothes aboard, never-mind fancy ones!

ships

Off land, one of the most amazing things we did this summer was compete in the tall ships race between Philly/Camden and Greenport. To me the coolest part was actually when all the ships participating met at the start line which was nothing more than some GPS coordinates. It’s not like there are any other distinguishing factors to go by when you cannot even see land. No coffee house or book store to meet up outside of…nope, just those coordinates and a whole lot of nothing. And yet, out of nothing comes the feeling of meeting up with old friends when we all came into view of each other. Four ships, SAGRES, L’HERMIONE, LETTIE G HOWARD and PICTON CASTLE all toeing the starting line together, waiting for that proverbial gun to go off. When it did, SAGRES left us all in her wake. Hard to be bothered though as it was one of the best sailing days we’ve had all summer. Plus, if we’re totally honest, there is a reason the slogan of the PICTON CASTLE is ‘We may be slow, but we get around’. This is a ship built for rugged beauty rather than outright speed. So off you go all you other speedy vessels, we’ve got some fishing to do.

As the summer season draws to a close I realize yet again that when you sign aboard the PICTON CASTLE you experience so much more than you realize upon reading the words ‘tall ship adventure’. There is more scrubbing to be done than you ever dreamed possible while at the same time the term ‘sheet home and loose the t’gallants’ now has a place in your vocabulary. You have seen sunrises and sunsets that demand silence and pods of whales that demand laughter and awe. Of the people who have spent time on the ship, some will have taken home a new way of thinking while others perhaps a new focus in life. One thing is for sure, if you let it, the PICTON CASTLE will provide for you a wealth of new memories, some of which will make you laugh so hard you’ll cry.

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Day’s Run – July 26, 2015

REMARKS: It is absolutely amazing how much work can get done on the ship when we have the dedicated time to do it. We were all hands from breakfast until noon again today, then starboard watch on until 1800 and then port taking over for the rest of the evening. The day being rather cool and drizzly we kept the hot chocolate flowing throughout. The one comment I heard most today was that going ashore to have a hot shower was the greatest thing ever!

SHIP’S WORK: Replaced starboard forward mizzen shroud bottlescrew; replaced door sill to Captains mess; began replacing skiff painters; made stoppers; ospho and painted forward head; painted life ring.

Making stoppers

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°06.0’N /069°05.7’W
DAYS RUN: 0 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1804.2 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 400 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: n/a
WIND: n/a
WEATHER: Barometer 1021
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: n/a

SAILS SET: None – anchored

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Day’s Run – July 25, 2015

REMARKS: Did you know that if you are not one of the people assigned to rust bust, the sound of 10 chipping hammers being used at the same time sounds kind of nice. Like a chorus of softly clinking metal. Listening to it, and trying to pick out what song it most sounded like, certainly made the time go faster for those of use on the cleaning team. During our days at anchor it is nice that the watches are rotated off for the afternoon or evening to explore the town or parks nearby. In the picture a few of us were on the hunt for three wild sheep named Cracker, Barrel and Jack. Alas, no such luck was to be had….though we did hear a rustle or two in the bushes alongside the trail.

SHIP’S WORK: Rust busted quarterdeck stanchions & mizzen shroud shackles; replaced forward mizzen shroud shackle; coat on Sea Never Dry rudder; cleaned quarterdeck and Monomoy.

searching for Cracker, Barrel & Jack

searching for Cracker, Barrel & Jack

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°06.0’N /069°05.7’W
DAYS RUN: 14.5 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1804.2 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 400 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: n/a
WIND: n/a
WEATHER: Barometer 1020
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: n/a

SAILS SET: Anchored – sails loose to dry

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Day’s Run – July 24, 2015

REMARKS: We tacked and tacked and guess what else…tacked some more! The conditions were right so rather than head straight from point A to point B we had an epic sail handling day. Right up until Mother Nature decided we’d had enough good weather for one day and dumped a pile of rain on us. All in all, a great boating day as we also had each watch take a turn rowing Monomoy. Takes a lot of coordination which means a team of people have to work in sync together in order to get anywhere. Sounds a lot like tacking a square rigged tall ship to me!

SHIP’S WORK: Bunt fair lead lizards; rowed Monomoy; tacking drills.

Storm on the horizon

Storm on the horizon

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°11.3’N /068°47.7’W
DAYS RUN: 18 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1783 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 412 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: PMO, CMGT VAR, 3.1 kts
WIND: South southwest, 4
WEATHER: Barometer 1016, 6/8 st, warm
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: n/a

SAILS SET: All sails.

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Day’s Run – July 23, 2015

Again today, another beautiful sailing day. The wind was not quite as plentiful as we like but this has the silver lining of allowing us to do a whole lot of sail handling. Our new trainees are quickly grasping what has to get done, both on the deck and aloft on the yards. Becky, our new cook, is producing some fantastic meals, snacks and even jury rigged a coffee grinder to get us back into freshly ground coffee beans. For some, this makes her the hero of the day!

SHIP’S WORK: Painted bits and chocks; sanded and varnished quarterdeck box, bridge rail, charthouse door and rail; spot painted bullworks and focs’l rail.

Fancy New Coffee Grinder

Fancy New Coffee Grinder

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 44°02.4’N /068°59.9’W
DAYS RUN: 55 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1762.8 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 432 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: PMO, CMGT VAR, 2.5 kts
WIND: North, 2
WEATHER: Barometer 1015, 6/8 cu
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: North, 1
SAILS SET: All sails.

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Day’s Run – July 22, 2015

Coolest thing ever today – this morning we sailed off the dock out of the harbour in Portland. We have a small crew, a third of which is new, and still we were able to do it! To sweeten the day we also had what I can only think of as a ‘drive by’ by the schooner Columbia. With the Captains permission she sailed across our bow then down the starboard side – what a beautiful ship she is. Around 2pm we broke back into sea watches, port taking 12-6 and starboard 6-12.

SHIP’S WORK: Fetched up main lower tops’l head earrings; sanding and repainting life rings.

Columbia passes on starboard

Columbia passes on starboard

BOUND FROM: Portland, ME, USA
TOWARDS: Lunenburg, NS, Canada
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 43°37.9’N /070°06.1’W
DAYS RUN: 7.5 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1703.6 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 492 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: East by south 1/2 south, CMGT 077, 2.6 kts
WIND: North northwest, 3
WEATHER: Barometer 1011, 1/8 cu ac
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: North northwest, 1

SAILS SET: All sails.

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Day’s Run – July 21, 2015

REMARKS: We stayed in Portland one extra day, being today, in order to get accomplished a long list of tasks. By staying tied to the dock and focusing on what had to get done we have been able to steadily cross items off the list…without adding anything already done and then slashing a line through it for some instant gratification. Our new trainees also benefited as we have been able to give them some focused attention during orientations, lessons and adapting themselves into ship life. As much as we all love to be out on the water, once in a while it pays to take a breather and allow everything to settle.

SHIP’S WORK: Linseed oil on Monomoy and Sea Never Dry masts; slushed the rigs on Monomoy and Sea Never Dry; worked on remounting the outbound engine; rove off yard tackle; replaced sea painter on Monomoy; build tiller for small boat engine; replaced lanyard for life ring light; replaced lights, whistles and retro reflection tape on float coats.

Eyeball fork anyone

BOUND FROM: Greenport, NY
TOWARDS: Portland, ME
TIME ZONE: ZD + 4
NOON POSITION: 43°39.4’N /070°14.9’W
DAYS RUN: 0 nm
PASSAGE DISTANCE RUN: 1695.9 nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 0 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: n/a
WIND: n/a
WEATHER: Sunny, warm
SAILS SET: None – docked.

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