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Taking No Risks with the Weather

Captain’s Log
Kate (Bob) Addison – 30 October 2015

It’s a sunny Friday afternoon in beautiful Lunenburg, and PICTON CASTLE is looking good. She’s alongside at her wharf, where she’s spent the past three months ever since returning from the summer voyage of Tall Ship festivals. It’s been a busy and productive three months: a six-week Bosun School; major rig overhaul, new spars, significant work in the engine room, new stowage in the hold, and a concerted effort to organise throughout. The ship is looking better than ever.

Our crew for this Transatlantic Voyage are a great gang too, we have 45 people aboard (plus one cat), and energy is high. The skill level is quite impressive for the start of a voyage, partly thanks to a number of apprenticeship scholarships granted by the Nova Scotia Seamanship Education Society to widen access to young aspiring professional mariners who couldn’t otherwise access this excellent sea training opportunity. And we are very happy to have them aboard.

So the ship’s ready and the crew are ready, we’ve loaded provisions and made our passage plan – the final part of the jigsaw is the weather. Yesterday was a whole lot less pleasant than today’s clear skies and sunshine – rough weather was forecast, blowing 50 knots just outside the harbour, left over from that hurricane that hit Mexico and even at our sheltered wharf there was a fair amount of swell as this deep low pressure system blew over.

There’s no need to set off on a voyage into bad weather, so we waited with extra lines ashore and double gaskets aloft. Frustrating for the new crew of course, but I think once they saw the conditions, most were secretly glad of another day snug alongside rather than out battling the howling wind and rain. With an excellent short term and long range forecast, the weather’s much better today, but after a strong blow like that the sea state is still choppy and unpleasant, with wind against swell adding to the confusion. Besides: we’re not superstitious, but you can’t start a voyage on a Friday.

It’s not just the crew – even the ship seems eager to get out to sea where she belongs: we were drying sails at the dock earlier this week and she caught a puff of wind that set her tugging at her mooring lines, seemingly keen for the open ocean. It was quite a sight.

And so tomorrow at about 10am the time will have finally come for us to clear out of Canada, cast off our dock lines, haul down sheets and tacks and set sail for the horizon.

As a great friend of the ship said to us today: “Run out of excuses, time to go.”

30 October in Lunenburg - opt

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