Captain's Log

Archive for June, 2016

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Day’s Run – 27 June, 2016

As we approach the southwestern corner of the North Atlantic high, the wind has become gradually lighter. With as much sail set as we can carry, the ship is still doing well in the very moderate conditions.

We are expecting this part of the crossing to be slower and are happy with the wind keeping us moving as well as we are.

As usual, the rig is crawling with hands doing various tarring jobs a fixing chafe gear. The Spanker boom was brought down to the rail this afternoon to get some work done on the topping lift and measure for some new sheet block strops. The Sailmakers are busy making any repairs we can find in the strong suite of sails before they will have to be bent on again, probably sometime next week.

Tarring - on an earlier voyage

Tarring – on an earlier voyage

The life aboard the ship keeps on going, the routine of the long passage has been settled for a while now and the crew and the ship both have fallen into the rhythm as we roll along peacefully in the gentle mid Atlantic swell.

SHIP’S WORK: Spot paint MONOMOY and the Semi-Dory; Send down Studding Sail gear from the main; end for end Spanker sheets and topping lift; make up new hemp block strops for Spanker sheets; overhaul Main Topmast Staysail sheet pennants; send aloft cranelines on the Mizzen; prep and prime engineer’s ladder to quarterdeck; continue with quarterdeck dutchman; Sailmakers continue repairs to Lower Topsail ‘G’ and continue tabling on new Upper Topsail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 32°04’N / 039°01’W

DAYS RUN: 118nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2560nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2181nm

COURSE AND SPEED: WNW, 5kts

WIND: ENE, Force 4

WEATHER: Sun and clouds, occasional squall, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  NE’rly, 2 – 4ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding sails and Flying Jib

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Day’s Run – 26 June, 2016

An overcast Sunday at sea. The wind has faired a little more and the Studding Sail booms were run out again this morning.

To mark the occasion of being a little more than half way across we held a ‘social hour’ on the quarter deck this afternoon, and to counter the grey day the crew came up in brightly coloured outfits and spent some time enjoying the company of the other watches over popcorn and cool drink.

SHIP’S WORK: Sunday at Sea!

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 31°04’N / 037°05’W

DAYS RUN: 144nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2442nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2291nm

COURSE AND SPEED: NW, 6kts

WIND: ENE, Force 5

WEATHER: Cloudy, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  NE’rly, 4 – 6ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Fore Topmast Staysail and Outer Jib

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Day’s Run – 25 June, 2016

While our good speed continues we are having to work a bit harder for it. The wind strength and direction have started to become more inconsistent and this requires much more sail handling to get the utmost out of the ship. All bent sail was set this morning as the wind moderated, but as it increased again in came the kites. The venerable old Flying Jib that has pulled the ship for so many miles over the past 15 years was unbent for (probably) the last time. The new Flying Jib, being completed, was made up for bending first thing in the morning and sent out into the rig. It’s quite a feeling to be able to make our own sails by hand and then get the satisfaction of being able to set them and feel the ship move along under their power. The Sailmaker and a few others spent a moment on the Focs’l head admiring our new creation, but then – with no time to waste – back to the quarter deck to continue work on our new Upper Topsail and Main Topmast Staysail.

As the winds have been quite strong for our lighter suite of sail, when the Royals came in this morning a few hands were sent up to put some stitches in before any holes started to open up and get some practices mending sail aloft. This also presented a good opportunity to get the halyard runner bushed and greased, and they were brought into the rig for service.

A good day’s work and by late afternoon with the wind moderating again. We are under all sail except the Studding Sails and enjoying another fantastic dinner from Donald, looking forward to another Sunday at sea tomorrow.

SHIP’S WORK: End for end Main Upper Topsail halyard and Main Royal halyard; brush and grease Royal halyard runners; replace STBD Fore T’gallant clewline; painting in MONOMOY and Semi-Dory; begin overhaul on Main Topmast Staysail sheet pennants; Carpenter’s shop cleaning; shift Flying Jib.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 29°46’N / 034°48’W

DAYS RUN: 149nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2298nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2432nm

COURSE AND SPEED: NW, 6.2kts

WIND: NE, Force 5

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  NE’rly, 4 – 6ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding sails and Flying Jib

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Day’s Run – 24 June, 2016

The squalls started up again last night and the Studding Sails came in early. As the morning came on, the wind built to the upper end of Force 5 and started gusting 6. During the morning watch the Royals, Flying Jib and Gaff Topsail were taken in hand. The ship continued to speed along though and as the day cleared off it turned into grand sailing.

With fair forecasts we have begun our slow swing to the north toward Canada. Everyone aboard is excited to be making a good passage and we are hoping for the wind to continue as it has for a few days yet to come.

SHIP’S WORK: Replace Fore lift tackles; replace port Main T’gallant brace; replace STBD Fore Royal sheet; make up new Flying Jib sheet pennant; clean and spot paint MONOMOY; spot paint hatch combing; continue quarterdeck dutchman.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 28°45’N / 032°14’W

DAYS RUN: 154nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2149nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2597nm

COURSE AND SPEED: WNW, 6.5kts

WIND: N x E, Force 5, gusting 6

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 23°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  NE’rly, 4 – 6ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding sails, Royals, Flying Jib and Gaff Topsail

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Day’s Run – 23 June, 2016

As the night wore off the wind began to build in the morning.

The ship is still sailing to the West with the wind mostly behind us and this allowed us to carry all sail and take best advantage of the wind strength. There is nothing quite like a square rigger with a fresh quartering breeze and all sail set. Overnight we had left the Fore Topmast and T’gallant Studding Sails set for the watches to drill with handling on their own at night, and in the morning we set the remaining ones to get the ship moving. It wasn’t just as easy as setting more sail though: around midday a few squalls started to appear behind the ship and so began the mad scramble to get sail in in time. Good work was done by the crew and we squared away with all plain sail when the squalls hit.

Taking in topmast studding sail on an earlier voyage

Taking in topmast studding sail on an earlier voyage

And when the squalls are over it’s time to make sail again, and fast.

With many hands on deck the Studding Sails went flying up into the rig again and the other kites were hauled up as well to keep us speeding along on our way.  Our Studdingsail clubs (the short spar that the sail is bent to, and is hoisted up into the rig with the sail) are made of bamboo from some of the various islands we have visited over the years. Bamboo has the opposite problem wood does with age: as it gets older and dries out it gets weaker, this happened to be the case with the Main T’gallant Studding Sail club and it went in half just before the noon watch change.  Good practices though for the crew and it was brought back down in a hurry with no damage to the sail. The afternoon saw a couple hands making reinforcements to the club so it could see use another day.

SHIP’S WORK: End for end port Main Brace; lay up Outer Jib sheet fairleads; Paint Galley house trim; make up curtain for STBD scuttle; oil blocks on the Mizzen mast; continue with dutchman on the quarter deck; reinforce Main T’gallant Studding Sail club; Sailmakers work on Flying Jib rope cover.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 28°48’N / 029°23’W

DAYS RUN: 142nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1995nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2730nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W x S, 6kts

WIND: N x E, Force 5

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 23°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 4 – 6ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Main T’gallant Studding Sail

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Day’s Run – 21 June, 2016

Though we did find the North Easterlies, they are not steady yet. Last night the breeze died away almost completely. As there is still some swell running we had to take in the Fore & Aft sails and haul up the Courses in order to keep them from slatting against the rig. We are also keeping the Studding Sails in at night until the crew have gotten used to handling them.

About 10 this morning a Northerly breeze filled in and we quickly proceeded to set all sail –  a flurry of activity involving the on watch, daymen and any bystanders on deck. Both Courses set at once and many of the Fore & Aft being set as the Studding Sails began to fly up into the rigging.  By late afternoon the breeze became fresh and we had to start reducing sail and stayed so for the night.

SHIP’S WORK: Greasing rounds aloft; end for end STBD Mainsail tack; fair and prime charthouse dutchman; begin quarterdeck dutchman; inspect and overhaul mousings and whippings aloft; continue overhaul of the Mizzen cranelines; begin slushing wire standing rigging; coatings on port anchor; re-stretch head lashings on all Studding Sails; Sailmakers continue roping on new Flying Jib and begin becketts on head and tack as well as begin repair work on Spanker ‘B’.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 29°13’N / 024°37’W

DAYS RUN: 74nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1739nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2985nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W x S, 4kts

WIND: N, Force 3

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 2ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

 

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The wind has remained from the north and a few squalls overnight provided for some sail handling in the watches.  This morning dawned fair with a Force 4 Northerly and we made all sail except the Fore Topmast and Lower Studding Sails. With the fair weather continues much work aloft greasing wires, fixing mousings and fetching up the occasional head earring lashing that has stretched since we bent the light sails.

In the afternoon the wind began to veer again allowing us to set the remaining Studding Sails and start steering a little North of West.  Also in the afternoon the sail makers, being very busy on the quarterdeck with five projects on the go at once, have come very close to completing our new Flying Jib. With all of the roping finished the head and the tack have had thimbles worked in and seized off and the clew has had a smart hemp cringle ‘stuck’ with a thimble knocked in. Tomorrow we will cover all of the roping with a strip of canvass and make the sail up for bending.

SHIP’S WORK: Make up new club for the Main T’gallant Studding Sail; re-lash Main Lower Topsail head earrings; Paint charthouse skirt; Paint and Varnish Galley house trim; continue overhaul of the Mizzen cranelines; continue quarterdeck dutchman; trim ratline tails aloft; herring bone stitch tear in the luff of the Inner Jib; Sailmakers continue repair on Spanker ‘B’; continue tabling and bunt linings on Upper Topsail; put 2 patches in the Main T’gallant Studding Sail; complete roping on Flying Jib and stick clew cringle; continue seaming on new Main Topmast Staysail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 28°43’N / 026°42’W

DAYS RUN: 114nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1853nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 2871nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W x S, 4.7kts

WIND: N x E, Force 4

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 23°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 2 – 3ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

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Day’s Run – 20 June, 2016

Today was Studding Sail day (pronounced ‘Stun-s’l’). The last bit of canvass we can set in PICTON CASTLE extends out beside the square sails on booms. These sails are reserved for moderate conditions and long passages where there won’t be too much bracing or other sail handling. We carry three of them on the weather side of the Fore Mast (T’gallant, Topmast and Lower) and one on the weather side of the Main Mast (T’gallant). As the gear had already been rigged a day ago, we sent up the booms in the morning and the got all the sails out for a once over with the Sailmaker. Then we bent them onto their spars. After getting the mess of running rigging sorted out between the masts and attached to the sails, up they went. This is all great rigging work to do at sea: having to send the booms aloft and then get the complicated running rigging set up and fair led. To set them it takes careful coordination – to get each one to fly up into the right place and with many things possibly getting caught on the way up or down it requires very careful attention from the Mates calling the operation.

Picton Castle under stuns'ls

Picton Castle under stuns’ls

The Studding sails come from an older time when the all hemp rigging and wooden spars could not support the weight of vast spreads of canvass all the time. As a result ships rigged these auxiliary sails in moderate conditions to get the best passages possible out of their vessels. By the time of the great clipper ships with their very large crews the Studding Sails had become quite large and were routinely set in more than moderate weather.

The Clipper JAMES BAINES reportedly went 21 knots in the Indian Ocean with Studding Sails and Skysail set. But this sort of thing required great man power and, as the need for reducing cost increased in shipping, the large sail plans with all their extra gear disappeared. At about the same time iron and steel wire rigging was introduced and heavy steel masts and lower yards started to appear. This stronger rigging allowed ships to carry longer yards and add the sail area that had been the light auxiliary Studding sails into the area of the working sail plan, making the rigs every bit as powerful but requiring less gear and men. Though PICTON CASTLE’s rig represents this latter time it is not that uncommon to see pictures of Scandinavian and French barques carrying Studding Sail booms as late as 1910. Few modern sailing ships carry them today making it a rare bit of seamanship to handle them, and as a training ship there is no better way to continue the learning curve than to throw in a set of Studding Sails after the crew have become proficient in handling the ship.

SHIP’S WORK: Rig Studding Sail gear; replace Main T’gallant Staysail sheet; Quarterdeck dutchman; sailmakers continue work on Flying Jib and Upper Topsail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 30°03’N / 021°47’W

DAYS RUN: 130nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1555nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 3144nm

COURSE AND SPEED: SW x S, 5.4kts

WIND: NE, Force 4 – 5

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 22°C, water temp: 22°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 2 -4ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

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Day’s Run – 19 June, 2016

A beautiful Sunday at sea … that is until the Flying Jib developed a large tear. We quickly got the sail down before more damage could be done and got it unbent and back to deck. The poor old sail has given many miles to the ship and we have a new one on the way, but not quite finished yet. Looking over the old sail we decided it might have a few miles left to give and we began to patch it up. By early afternoon we had it bent and set again. This sail on its own can be worth almost half a knot sometimes, so it is well worth the effort to repair it.

SHIP’S WORK: Patch Flying Jib, otherwise Sunday at sea.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 29°50’N / 023°32’W

DAYS RUN: 110nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1665nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 3054nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W, 4.6kts

WIND: NNE, Force 3 – 4

WEATHER: Sunny, air temp: 23°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 1 – 2ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

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Day’s Run – 18 June, 2016

Our tradewind passage continues, we are expecting though that the winds might get a little light at our current latitude so in the morning watch we wore ship to head further south in hopes of steadier winds.

With the good weather the flurry of day work continues as well: many new ratlines going up, coatings on all parts of the rigging, greasing rounds, and three sails on the go back on the quarterdeck.

In anticipation of the steadier winds to come, the Mate and the Bosun began running up the Studding Sail gear today. This will allow us to spread every bit of canvass possible from the ship. We expect to be setting them early next week.

SHIP’S WORK: Scrape and slush the Fore T’gallant Mast; replace Gaff Topsail sheet; end for end port Main T’gallant leechline and port Main tack; finish charthouse dutchman; send aloft running gear for Studding Sails; oil blocks aloft; replace ratlines on the Main Topmast shrouds; take up on STBD Main T’gallant head earring lashing and replace robands; grease all deck fittings; bend Inner Jib ‘A’.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: GMT

NOON POSITION: 31°56’N / 020°33’W

DAYS RUN: 134nm

PASSAGE LOG: 1425nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 3274nm

COURSE AND SPEED: SSW, 5.6kts

WIND: NNE, Force 5

WEATHER: Partly sunny with the occasional squall, air temp: 22°C, water temp: 22°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 3 -5ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

 

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