Captain's Log

Archive for December, 2015

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Day’s Run – 12 December, 2015

Another day at anchor off Essaouira. Carpenter Tim made friends with a local ship builder here so we got a tour of the ship yard to see some wooden fishing boats and ships at varying stages of construction, and the simple tools used for their construction: a 70 year old band saw and planer (originally diesel, now battery powered), and a simple fire pit for bending the planks. We were even invited to climb aboard a big wooden fishing boat that was almost finished, and take a peek below decks at the enormous eucalyptus frames and close ribs – these boats are built for strength!

Fishing boats and the medina gate

Fishing boats and the medina gate

SHIP’S WORK: Remove a link from martingale stays and set up headrig, primer on topsides, t’gallant rail and freeing ports, scrub clean the topsides from deck and from the boat, rig MONOMOY and take her for a test sail, ratlines in the main shrouds, restoration of Karl continues. Training in harbour stow for headsails: tricing them up by the clew, and some skiff driving training.

At: anchor, Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 31°30.2’N /009°46.4’W
WEATHER: Still calm and clear. Temperature much the same as yesterday: warm in the day and cool at night.

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Day’s Run – 11 December, 2015

PICTON CASTLE dropped anchor in Essaouira Harbour, in the Kingdom of Morocco at 1030 on Friday morning. We are tucked in between the old fortified town with its high red walls and the Ile de Mogador, also known as the Purple Island since antiquity because of the purple dye made from special shells found here. This is a gorgeous, laid back fishing town. Already the gang have been ashore, haggled for carpets and silver jewelry in the tall narrow streets of the medina, been to a hammam or traditional spa to scrub the weeks of dirt away, drunk gallons of mint tea and eaten a whole lot of delicious barbecued fish and rich, sweet tagine. Magical*9+/-8.

Fishing Boat at Ile Mogador

Fishing Boat at Ile Mogador

SHIP’S WORK: Rust bust starboard t’gallant rail (even Donald helped out!), rust bust port main deck freeing ports, coat of oil on jibboom, rig MONOMOY, send up stay tackle, reinstall main upper topsail bunt blocks, hoist project boat KARL onto the hatch for work, training in use of the lead line and handling the skiff.

At: anchor, Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 31°30.2’N /009°46.4’W
WEATHER: Calm, with slight swell. Beautifully clear. It’s warm in the middle of the day but cool later, dropping from about 72F (22°C) to 62F (17°C) overnight.

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Day’s Run – 9 December, 2015

A gorgeous day today as we make way towards Africa. Ditty bag workshops continue with tabling to strengthen the top and grommets made of waxed marlin sewn in to make reinforced holes for the lanyard to go through. Sail drill with royals.

9 dec

SHIP’S WORK: Bend fore royal sail, replace port main royal bunt, relead main t’gallant staysail halyard, paint buff on jibboom, red on focslehead waterways, white on propane tank, stone on superstructure, primer on jibboom irons, overhaul Flemish horse and bunt blocks. Work on dutchman in quarterdeck and making new steps for a ladder.

TOWARDS: Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 32°47.9’N /012°55.0’W
DAYS RUN: 113nm
PASSAGE LOG: 209nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 178nm
COURSE AND SPEED: SxE 1/2E (158°T)
WIND: ExS, Force 3
WEATHER: 7/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 66F (19°C), sea surface temp 69F (21°C) barometer reading 1030 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: 3 feet, E
SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals except the mainsail, foretopmast staysail and inner jib, main topmast and main t’gallant staysail, spanker.

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Day’s Run – 10 December, 2015

We held an inter-watch Seamanship Derby this afternoon to test the skills and knowledge of the crew after several weeks at sea. Together we have almost completed our North Atlantic crossing under square sail – an extremely rare achievement these days, of which all should be proud.

All hands performed admirably, proving they know their lines, knots, points of the compass, and can turn a mess of lines into a set neat tidy coils in no time. Competition was fierce, but the 8-12 won it by a wafer-thin margin in the salt-water collecting tie-break competition. The judges were particularly impressed with the talent show portion of the event.

James & Jesse win the tiebreak for the 8-12 watch

James & Jesse win the tiebreak for the 8-12 watch

SHIP’S WORK: Second coat buff on jibboom, spot paint MONOMOY, reinstall Flemish horses, paint red on focslehead waterways, white on propane tanks. Prepare for Seamanship Derby.

TOWARDS: Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 32°08.3’N /011°57.1’W
DAYS RUN: 69nm
PASSAGE LOG: 278nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 115nm
COURSE AND SPEED: SExE (112°T)
WIND: Flat calm
WEATHER: 7/8 cloud cover (alto cumulus, alto stratus), air temp 68F (20°C), sea surface temp 69F (21°C) barometer reading 1028 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: smaller than 1 foot, NE
SAILS SET: All sails stowed, steaming for a while to make tracks through the calm towards Essaouira.

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Day’s Run – 8 December, 2015

In this afternoon’s workshop we made a start on making ditty bags – practicing all the main skills of the Sailmaker, and making yourself a handy bag to keep your tools together in the process. Today the Captain started us off by explaining how to make a flat seam to join the edges of the canvas together into a tube – the same seam that’s used to join the cloths of a sail together. After practicing a seam on a scrap of old sail, everyone got started on seaming up their bag.

Dittybag workshop

Dittybag workshop

SHIP’S WORK: Sent down fore t’gallant sail and bent on replacement, patch service Flemish horses, pitched fore t’gallant stay, ratlines on fore and main, fore upper topsail bunt blocks re-stropped, port t’gallant rail cut in with red, primer on jibboom cheek block strops, white on new propane tanks, spot paint in skiff, Dutchman in quarterdeck, continue finish work on the new gaff topsail.

TOWARDS: Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 32°54.7’N /015°08.6’W
DAYS RUN: 90nm
PASSAGE LOG: 96nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 286nm
COURSE AND SPEED: E 1/2S (080°T)
WIND: SE, Force 3
WEATHER: 6/8 cloud cover (stratocumulus, altocumulous), air temp 68F (20°C), sea surface temp 69F (21°C) barometer reading 1021 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: 1-3 feet, SE
SAILS SET: inner jib, main topmast staysail, foretopmast staysail, spanker.

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Day’s Run – 7 December, 2015

Funchal, Madeira is a very lovely town which made me think of Continental Europe on holiday. The restaurants, shops and hotels were all popular with the crew; I think they enjoyed the relaxation that comes with being very well looked after. The cable car up way above the town to Monte with its spectacular church looking down over our little barque and the ocean was popular too. But however alluring the bright lights of town I find it’s always nice to get out again to the peace and routine of life at sea. We got underway mid-morning, setting all sail in the harbour to give the tourists a show, motor-sailing for a while and then shutting off the main engine at 1800 when the wind filled in a little to allow us to sail overnight. Next stop – Africa!

Bracing round the main t'gallant and royal

Bracing round the main t’gallant and royal

SHIP’S WORK: Paint chocks and bits, stow for sea. All hands fire drill at 1300: simulated fire in the Stackhouse.
Sail drill: spanker and mizzen topmast staysails.

TOWARDS: Essaouira, Morocco
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 32°37.3’N /016°47.6’W
DAYS RUN: 6nm
PASSAGE LOG: 6nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 362nm
COURSE AND SPEED: ExS (092°T)
WIND: ExS, Force 0
WEATHER: 8/8 cloud cover (stratocumulus), air temp 70F (21°C), sea surface temp 69F (21°C) barometer reading 1025 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: <1 foot, S
SAILS SET: All square sails to t’gallants, main topmast staysail and foretopmast staysail, spanker.

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Arrival in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

After a lovely overnight sail under starlit skies from Porto Sancho, we fired up early this morning to make our appointment with the pilots off the historic port of Funchal, Madeira. As soon as we were tied up and cleared in, we sent down the main t’gallant sail and yard so the carpenters could do some work on the yard. No doubt the off-watch are having a great time ashore, exploring this lovely old city and the world-class hiking country beyond.

Arriving in Funchal

Arriving in Funchal

Arrival at Funchal

Arrival at Funchal

Fiji on watch

Fiji on watch

Working on new spar

Working on new spar

coatings on yard

coatings on yard

Funchal

Funchal

rust busting

rust busting

Painting

Painting

Prepping coffee station for paint

Prepping coffee station for paint

Painting

Painting

Funchal market

Funchal market

fresh bananas in funchal

prepping tgallant sail ready to bend

prepping tgallant sail ready to bend

sending down main tgallant

sending down main tgallant

sending down the yard

sending down the yard

shifting sails

shifting sails

tuning headrig

tuning headrig

tuning headrig

tuning headrig

Fiji helping with sailmaking

Fiji helping with sailmaking

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Day’s Run – 1 December, 2015

It’s a beautiful day to go sailing! After a short visit in the delightfully sleepy island of Porto Santo, which has a unique charm somewhere between the café culture of mainland Europe and the chilled out beauty of the Caribbean, we sailed off the anchor and got underway for the main island of Madeira. We’re due into the port of Funchal tomorrow morning, the second of the additional ports Captain has added to the schedule as more favourable for current weather conditions than Cadiz and Gibraltar. The sun is shining, the breeze is gentle, shorts and bare feet are suddenly in fashion, and everyone seems to be enjoying taking our world-voyaging barque island hopping.

ready to sail off the hook

ready to sail off the hook

SHIP’S WORK: The new jibboom was run out and the head rig set up while we were at anchor, so now we can bend the inner and outer jibs. We could have run the boom out underway, but since our schedule found us at anchor when the boom was ready, we did it there instead. Man overboard drill after lunch to practice launching and recovering the rescue boat in a seaway.

TOWARDS: Funchal, Madeira
TIME ZONE: GMT
NOON POSITION: 33°01.8’N /016°20.1’W
DAYS RUN: nm
PASSAGE LOG: nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: nm
COURSE AND SPEED: SxW (140°T)
WIND: ExS, Force 2
WEATHER: 2/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 70F (21°C), sea surface temp 69F (21°C) barometer reading 1029 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: 1-2 feet, E
SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, main topmast staysail and foretopmast staysail, spanker.

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Day’s Run – 27 November, 2015

This afternoon the Captain gave an introductory talk about sailmaking to introduce some basic concepts before we start practical workshops on the next passage. It was a broad overview of how sails work, the different materials used in their construction, the techniques used to impart shape and strength to a sail, and how all of these things have changed over time and place, from the Faroese woven reed mats, through flax and cotton canvas to the synthetic and composite sails of modern racing yachts. Saw whales 1/2 cable off the port beam early this morning.

Stow main topgallant

Stow main topgallant

SHIP’S WORK: Run gear aloft for main t’gallant staysail, paint tropical blue overhead on the aloha deck, black on the windlass and pelican hook, batcave hatch, scuttle hatch, and focsle head. Sand and treat windlass breakbands with rust-converter. Continue topcoat on main engine. Wire seize martingale backropes, splice new fish tackle pennant, ratlines on main and fore port lower shrouds, weld new tang on martingale and prime.
Continue work on temporary jibboom. Finish repairs to main t’gallant staysail ready to send aloft, work on replacing the rope cover and sun cloth of t’gallant sail.

TOWARDS: Porto Santo Island, Madeira
TIME ZONE: ZD + 1
NOON POSITION: 34°33.4’N /017°22.8’W
DAYS RUN: 103nm
PASSAGE LOG: 768nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 92nm
COURSE AND SPEED: SE (140°T)
WIND: NExE, Force 5
WEATHER: 3/8 cloud cover (stratocumulus), air temp 65F (18°C), sea surface temp 66F (19°C) barometer reading 1027 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: 4-6 feet, NExE
SAILS SET: Topsails and courses, fore topmast staysail, main topmast staysail, spanker.

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Day’s Run – 26 November, 2015

Captain called an all-hands muster after lunch to discuss the progress of the passage. We have made good tracks from the Azores, but the weather charts are currently showing a huge high-pressure system over almost the whole North Atlantic, which is forecast to remain almost stationary for at least the next few days and giving us moderate to light winds from between North and East. Since we are even now slightly below the latitude of Cadiz but still nearly 700 miles to the west, it would take us a long time to fetch it under sail, and nobody relishes the thought of motoring into headwinds for five days.

The Captain has therefore made the decision that we will divert our course and call at the wonderful islands of Madeira instead, and from there on to Morocco. It is a great privilege of this program that we can adapt to make the best of the weather rather than ignoring it, and bashing on regardless. Mail in Gibraltar will be forwarded to meet us in the Canaries, and there are no other changes expected to this leg of the voyage. The crew seem excited by the unscheduled opportunity to call at Madeira!

Last night the watches made the most of the full moon to practice climbing aloft after dark.

♫ By the light of the silvery moon ♪

♫ By the light of the silvery moon ♪

SHIP’S WORK: Spot paint grey on the focsle head rail, paint a couple of propane tanks to protect from rust, end-for-end port fore and main tacks, ratlines on starboard topmast shrouds, splice and serve the wire for temporary martingale backropes, splice, serve and seize inner jib stay strop, parcel and seize martingale stay strop, prime martingale tang, grease t’gallant and topmasts and oil gin blocks aloft.

TOWARDS: Porto Santo Island, Madeira
TIME ZONE: ZD + 1
NOON POSITION: 35°49.1’N /018°50.1’W
DAYS RUN: 87nm
PASSAGE LOG: 665nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 240nm
COURSE AND SPEED: SE (130°T)
WIND: NExE, Force 5
WEATHER: 3/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 62F (17°C), sea surface temp 66F (19°C) barometer reading 1033 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: 4-6 feet, NE
SAILS SET: Topsails and courses, fore topmast staysail, main topmast staysail, spanker.

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