Thursday, May 11th, 2017
By Allison Steele, Purser
As we steam south and westward, towards our rendezvous with other tall ships at Charleston South Carolina, USA, the Picton Castle has shaken out the cobwebs after her winter alongside the wharf in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and is operating as the stout sea-going vessel she is. Today we are skirting just north of the Gulf Stream towards Virginia Beach where the seas are not as choppy as if we tried to pass through the Gulf Stream. The weather remains cool but dry and we are looking forward to warmer weather! Water temperatures are going up from about 40 degrees Fahrenheit to now 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
After getting underway and some stowing for sea, we broke into watches which means each crew member is on duty for 4 hours and off for 8 rotating throughout the day. Each watch has specific duties that correspond with the needs of the ship during that time. Every hour a new person from the watch takes the helm and stands lookout. There is much variety to working at sea and at a moment’s notice you may be called upon to help with sail handling taking advantage of a change in wind or course. Night watches are often not as active as during the day but the crew is always on alert for anything that might arise.
During passages, the Captain will conduct workshops to help introduce new skills and yesterday the crew learned about mousings. Mousings are a method of wrapping wire around a shackle or a hook to keep the pin from backing its way out over time, or a hook coming off. Shackles are used throughout the ship and need to be relied on to hold rigging and sails in place so this is an important skill to have. As a training vessel, crew of the Picton Castle are constantly learning and putting these skills into practice. From identifying dolphins coming to investigate the ship to bending on sail, steering and keeping a good lookout, knots and splices to small boat handling, there is always something new to learn and practice.