Captain's Log

Archive for July, 2016

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Day’s Run – 2 July, 2016

While the breeze has remained light it is starting to show signs of filling in again and we are expecting more to come in the next few days.

As we move back to the western side of the ocean we can expect the winds to become more variable in direction and much stronger. As a result we have begun switching back to the stronger suit of canvass that we had sent down after leaving La Rochelle, about 3,000nm ago. Today saw both Lower Topsails shifted in good time. The crew, having spent a lot of time in the rig this passage, is getting good at getting things done. A satisfying thing indeed for all onboard. In the coming days as the weather permits we will be shifting out the Courses, Upper Topsails, Spanker and Inner Jib.

The Carpenters are keeping busy replacing bits and pieces of wood about the ship as well as getting busy with some deck caulking. We have also started making a new Main Boom for the ship’s MONOMOY.

monomoy returning to the ship Mangareva 153

Our MONOMOY is a 23′ pulling boat that sits in the port davits while at sea. This boat was once a common type of rescue boat in the US Life Saving Service and our boat was part of that service, being built in the 1940’s and used at a station somewhere on Cape Cod. It was given to the ship by Capt. Bob Douglas of the Schr. SHENANDOAH and despite its age is in remarkably good shape, having now giving us many years of excellent service.

While it is easy to argue that no one really needs to know how to row a boat any more, this boat is a large part of our program. Tt has been thought for a long time, by many mariners, that the awareness and teamwork required to run a pulling boat are at the very foundation of seamanship. We believe this strongly too and make good use of the boat whenever we can in port or at anchor. Our boat also has a sailing rig, allowing us to use her for another very important function – teaching sailing. Odd, one might think, for a sailing ship to need a boat to teach sailing with, but it is true that someone might sail as a hand in a larger ship for many years and never really learn to ‘sail’. So we also take the time to get our crew sailing the boat whenever possible. While the mechanics and the man power may be very different between the ship and the boat the principles and the ‘feel’ are the same. With the quick reactions to wind and sea required to get the boat to make ground it is the perfect opportunity to teach these principles in a way that they can be seen and felt very quickly. (The great secret to all of this is that sailing the boat is actually a lot of fun too).

So here on our long passages we have the opportunity to care for our 70+ year old boat in an effort to get good service out of her for years to come.

SHIP’S WORK: Send down Lower Topsails ‘C’ & ‘F’ and bend Lower Topsails ‘G’ and ‘NZ-13’; wrap up open spot painting and slushing jobs; clean out carpenter’s workshop as well as clean and sharpen tools; re-stow oars and gear in MONOMOY; Sailmakers close in on the new Upper Topsail with rope cover on the head and foot and seizings on the clews.


FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada


NOON POSITION: 35°05’N / 040°46’W

DAYS RUN: 53nm




WIND: S x W, Force 2 – 3

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with cirrus and alto cumulus, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 25°C


SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding Sails

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Day’s Run – 1 July, 2016

Happy Canada Day! For us has dawned another beautiful day in tropical like conditions. While keeping the ship moving through the night the crew have kept busy and up to snuff with their sail stowing, drilling in getting the Studding Sails in and the Royals stowed in a timely fashion.

We have been lucky enough to see more than a few marine mammals this passage and about midday today a number of spouts were seen along the horizon. As they came closer though, we saw the spout was different than the dolphins, Fin whales and Minke Whales we have been seeing. Soon enough it became obvious that there were an entire pod of Sperm whale headed in our direction, a rare and exciting site.

Sperm whales, after hundreds of years of being the most popularly fished whale, are rare to see and also easily ‘gallied’ or scared away at the approach of a vessel. As we sailed along slowly in silence, on a course meeting with theirs, they appeared not to notice us. Two adults and two calf’s crossed within 20 yards of the bow of the ship. These amazingly large and powerful creatures slowly lumbering along in the afternoon sun was an awe inspiring sight and the crew crowded on the Focs’l head and into the Fore Mast to catch a glimpse.

Swim call on an earlier voyage

Swim call on an earlier voyage

Later in the afternoon, with very calm seas and warm water it was decided by the Captain that there would be no better time than now to have a swim call. With a flurry of activity the ship was hove to Fore Topsail to the mast and all hands called on deck. After the Mate gave a quick lesson on the ‘pool rules’ – how to stay safe, with a few designated life guards standing by – in the crew went. It’s quite a feeling being in the water next to your ship, the nearest land being about 16,000 feet away – straight down. After about 20 min, many hands soaping up for a salt water scrub and a few braving a dive from the Jibboom it was time to go. All hands were again called on deck to be accounted for, then hands to braces and fill away. And  with setting the kites we started along our way again.

And as if we thought the day couldn’t get any better Donald served us his world famous fried chicken for dinner. Our 23rd day at sea was not too bad at all.

SHIP’S WORK: Overhaul Main yard foot ropes; patch serve splices on Main Upper Topsail lifts; Paint on the Focs’l head hand rails and the Semi-Dory Bottom; slushing the rig; continue quarterdeck dutchman; various spot painting; Sailmakers continue on Upper Topsail ‘H’ and the new Upper Topsail ‘DK-16’

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada


NOON POSITION: 34°41’N / 045°39’W

DAYS RUN: 69nm




WIND: SE, Force 3

WEATHER: Sunny and occasional cumulus, air temp: 26°C, water temp: 24°C


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


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Day’s Run – 30 June, 2016

The wind has been lightening and steadily veering to the Southeast and as such just before noon we wore ship onto the Port tack.

With our Studding Sail gear this takes some time. As we only have one set, we can only set Studding Sails one side at a time. So in come the sails, down come the booms, all the gear is shifted over to port then up with the booms again and then we can set full sail again. The process, with enough hands, takes just about two hours.

Another drill was called this afternoon: this time a fire drill. The crew are doing well with the safety drills and getting good at carrying out their assignments. But it is often said that a perfect drill is of little use, as it leaves no room for improvement. Which is why this afternoon’s drill had a good twist to it: a squall. It is certainly not an unreasonable possibility to have to fight a fire while some other event is happening and this was a good test for the crew. They handled it well though being flexible with the needs of getting sail in and the problems of communication in an absolute downpour. The end result being mostly that all of our gear got a good fresh water rise and with the laundry lines full we again set all sail and put the wind behind us making our way toward Canada

SHIP’S WORK: Shift the Mainsail; quarter deck caulking; Sailmaking repairs continue to Lower Topsail ‘G’ and Upper Topsail ‘H’ and roping continues on the new Upper Topsail

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada


NOON POSITION: 34°25’N / 044°21’W

DAYS RUN: 88nm




WIND: E x S, Force 3

WEATHER: Sun and cumulus clouds, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 24°C SWELL HIGHT & DIRECTION:  E’rly, 1 – 2ft SAILS SET: All Sail, except Fore Topmast Staysail

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Day’s Run – 29 June, 2016

Our excellent trade wind sailing continues. The forecast however is for the winds to start getting lighter and we can already feel that today. But it is no matter to us as we have been making good time and will continue to have good weather if not fast sailing.

The Mate and the Bosun are still using the weather to great advantage, with much paint going on the occasional varnish project and many small jobs in the rig that just aren’t possible on higher latitude passages.

As the conditions were good for it this afternoon we held a man overboard drill. This can require a lot of sail handling and quick thinking with so much sail set and to get the boat away safely and quickly at the same time. In this case with the Studding Sails set it is important not to get them aback as they are only supported from the aft side. So while in most drills we turn the ship into the wind on the tack we are already on, in this case we turn away from the wind giving the crew time to get the Studding Sails down while we wear ship. In these moderate conditions we can also leave the spanker set which will help kick the stern around once we have come onto the other tack.  The result of this manoeuvring is that the ship becomes hove to (stopped) on the Port tack with the Fore Yards aback and the Main yards braced up and no gear broken! Then once it is safe, the rescue boat is away to recover the buoy we had thrown overboard. The crew did well and from the time we called the drill, the rescue boat was back alongside with the buoy in 6 minutes flat.

But this is still a good reminder to the crew, seeing what it takes to recover someone in near perfect conditions with all hands standing by. The best solution is prevention, and we as a whole crew must remain vigilant in order to keep everybody safely on board.

After the drill the crew showed that they have been doing well with their sail drill, we wore ship again to get back on course and the Studding Sails flew up into the rig, and off we went to the Northwest.

SHIP’S WORK: Re-seize Upper Topsail backropes; set up Main T’gallant shrouds; Painting on Engineer’s ladder; hatch combing; aloha deck; MONOMY and Semi-Dory; Carpenters begin making new main boom for MONOMY and continue with quarterdeck dutchman; Sailmakers replace suncloth and ropecover on the head of Lower Topsail ‘G’ and begin Roping on new Upper Topsail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada


NOON POSITION: 33°51’N / 042°47’W

DAYS RUN: 117nm




WIND: E, Force 4

WEATHER: Sunny, occasional squall, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 24°C



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Day’s Run – 28 June, 2016

Another lovely trade wind sailing day. The wind shifted east this morning and we squared away and hauled up the Studding sails.

The ships work keeps on and many coats of paint are being applied with the good weather. Foot ropes and crane lines are being sent down from the rig for maintenance and temporary ones being rigged in there place.

And a delicious fish dinner from Donald rounds out another good day at sea.


SHIP’S WORK: Paint out MONOMOY and Semi-Dory; spot painting main deck stand pipes and engineers ladder; grease Topmasts; rig up temporary foot rope on main yard; send down main yard foot ropes for service; continue quarterdeck dutchman and caulking; sailmakers continue repairs to Lower Topsail ‘G’ and tabling on Upper Topsail ‘DK-16’

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada


NOON POSITION: 32°54’N / 040°46’W

DAYS RUN: 103nm




WIND: ENE, Force 4

WEATHER: Sun and cumulus clouds, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 23°C


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

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