Captain's Log

Archive for November, 2017

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Christmas is on its way – Need a last minute gift idea?

If you’ve been with us a while, you know we don’t often send out cheesy requests that you purchase our merchandise. It’s always available, but we usually sell it on the ship. Christmas is nearly here, though, and we have some of our super popular “We May Be Slow” shirts available. At only $25CAD each including tax and shipping (within USA & Canada), these shirts are a steal!

We have a variety of colours and sizes available this year:

Youth XL – Apple Green & Indigo Blue

Adult Small – Sky Blue, White & Apple Green

Adult Medium – Light Brown

Adult Large – Sky Blue & Light Brown

Adult XL – Teal, Light Brown, Sky Blue, Orange/Red & Apple Green (please note: since original posting, teal has sold out!)

Adult 2XL – Grey, Khaki Green, Royal Blue & Black

Please refer to the photos below to get an idea of the colours

If you would like to make an order, please send Trudi an email and she’ll get one out lickety split. Keep in mind there are less than four weeks until Christmas, so if the shirt is to go under the tree you’ll need to order asap!

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Festive Weekend in Lunenburg

Lunenburg was alive with festive spirit this weekend and the Bosun School students took part in the celebrations.

On Friday evening, people gathered on the waterfront to see the lighting of the vessels. Vessels at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and Adams & Knickle usually participate, along with Bluenose II, and this year we we have lights on Picton Castle as well. All of the vessels were lit up, as well as a Christmas tree made of lobster traps and a number of decorated Christmas trees (including one we decorated). The vessel lighting was followed by fireworks over the harbour. Local businesses and individuals contributed to fund the fireworks, including a donation from the Picton Castle Bosun School.

The highlight of Saturday was the Santa Claus Parade. The Bosun School students prepared the float and rode in it during the parade. Our float featured the brightly coloured dory Sea Never Dry, built at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg and part of Picton Castle‘s fleet of small boats and sailed all over the world. There were about 50 floats in the parade, which shows the great community spirit here.

For the Bosun School it’s back to classes and workshops this week, finishing some varnish practice and getting a lesson on making ratlines.


Shala decorates the Christmas tree on the waterfront


Bosun School/Picton Castle/Dory Shop float in the Santa Claus Parade

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Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the fun things about sailing with an international crew is celebrating holidays from different countries.  It’s the same in Bosun School, with students of a number of different nationalities.  We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back in October, and are celebrating American Thanksgiving today.

Niko is busy cooking up a big delicious dinner and we’ve put the usual projects aside for the day in order to focus on festive projects.  This upcoming weekend kicks off the holiday season in Lunenburg and we’re participating fully.  Today we are rigging up Christmas lights on Picton Castle’s masts, decorating a tree at the Fisheries Museum, and decorating our float for the Santa Claus parade.

On Friday evening, the vessels on Lunenburg’s waterfront will be lit up for the season.  The museum’s fleet along with the fishing fleet at Adams & Knickle usually participate, and we’ll be joining in the illumination as well.  The vessel lighting event begins at 6pm outdoors at the Fisheries Museum with warm foods and drinks from local restaurants, along with music and caroling.  At 6:30pm the vessels will be lit, along with the decorated trees at the museum, and at 7:30pm there will be fireworks over the harbour.

On Saturday, there are a number of markets and events happening throughout the town.  At 3pm it’s time for the Santa Claus parade.  Apparently there will be over 50 floats in the parade, including ours.  Keep an eye out for our brightly painted dory, Sea Never Dry!  We’ll take photos and post them for anyone who can’t join us in person.

So, the Bosun School is celebrating Thanksgiving by temporarily becoming a North Pole workshop, followed by a wonderful meal together.  We have a lot to be thankful for here.

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Now Hiring Mates

Picton Castle is now accepting applications for Mates/Watch Officers for the upcoming voyage. The voyage begins early 2018 and runs until May 2019. This is a sail training voyage for adults and will consist of significant blue-water passages.

Qualification requirements vary by position, but all professional crew must have STCW Basic Safety Training and extensive experience working on traditional sailing vessels. Mates must have, at a minimum, a 500 ton oceans mate certificate.

Please apply by sending an email with your CV and cover letter to info@picton-castle.com.

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Heaving Line Throwing Practice

When vessels come alongside to dock, they need to get lines ashore in order to tie the vessel to the wharf. Big ships need big lines. It’s not possible to throw these lines because they’re so heavy, so a lighter weight line is tied to the mooring line. These lighter weight lines, called heaving lines, typically have something heavy on the thrown end of them in order to make them easier to throw. On Picton Castle, the heavy part is a monkey’s fist knot, but we’ve seen other heaving lines with bean bags tied to the end, so use whatever gets the job done.

As the vessel approaches the dock, it’s the job of the crew to throw the heaving line from the ship to the shore so it can be picked up by the line handler ashore. Throwing one of these is not as easy as it looks. And getting the proper distance and aim is vital, especially when manoeuvering the vessel in close quarters.

In order to get good at throwing heaving lines, practice is necessary. The Bosun School students practiced yesterday, throwing heaving lines down the wharf from a certain point, trying to get the monkey’s fist knot into an empty garbage can at the end of the wharf.

First the lines have to be coiled very carefully so they won’t tangle when they’re thrown. The fixed end needs to be tied down (in real application it would be tied to the mooring line, but for practice we just tie it to anything handy, often ourselves). Then the part of the line with the monkey’s fist and a few extra coils are held in the dominant hand, swung back to gain momentum, then released, followed immediately by releasing the rest of the line from the other hand. Then recover your line, coil and practice throwing again (and again and again and again…).


Heaving line practice, photo by Alexandra Pronovost

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Who Would You Want To Sail With?

Each Picton Castle voyage has its own character, its own inside jokes, its own on-board culture. One of the exciting parts of planning a voyage is putting together the crew and trying to imagine how everyone will interact together.

While there are different individuals on each voyage, there are some common themes. People who sail in Picton Castle are pretty adventurous. Some have had other big adventures in their lives, for some sailing on Picton Castle will be their first big adventure. All have a strong desire to be a part of the crew, doing their part to get the ship from port to port.

Picton Castle crew come from all over the world. We like having an international crew. We tend to have a number of Americans and Canadians, but also quite a few Europeans and people from a variety of other countries. Most people are on the younger side, but there are always those in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and sometimes 70s. Our trainees come from a variety of backgrounds and have done all sorts of interesting things in their lives before sailing on Picton Castle. Some are recent graduates, some are taking a break from jobs, some are retired.

When we select our trainees, the most important question we consider is what each person will be like as a shipmate. The crew live, work, play and eat together in a fairly small space that, when at sea, they can’t leave. Imagine the kind of person you would like to share the experience with and you’ll start to paint a picture of what it means to be a good shipmate. Someone who is considerate, respectful, and friendly, with a good sense of humour, who is willing to do their share and then some.

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Wire Splicing at Bosun School

Students at Picton Castle‘s Bosun School have been learning to splice wire this week.

Captain Moreland started by demonstrating the method, then the students paired up to work on splicing their own wires together.  After each pair had completed their splice, Captain Moreland did a second demonstration of the technique, now that the students had a frame of reference.  After that, they worked individually on practicing splicing.

The wire they are using is 5/8″ trawl winch wire that has been used on local fishing vessels.  The wire can’t continue to be used for that purpose because there are parts that are worn, but we can cut away the worn parts to find short lengths of good wire that are suitable for practice.  Because it has been stretched and pre-formed by going through the fishing winches, it’s particularly difficult to work with.  As Captain Moreland would say, this is a good thing.  If you learn using materials that are more difficult to handle, you’ll be better at it when you’re using smaller or more flexible wire.  The wire we’re using is 6×24 and has a fibre heart.

Students started by learning to measure the wire, how to bend it, how to seize it, and how much of a tail to leave to work with.  They have been making eye splices and each student will make at least five splices during their time at Bosun School.

Today, the Captain inspected each student’s splice individually, providing feedback on their work.  For many, the first tuck needs to start sooner so there is no gap at the start of the eye.

More practice is on order for next week.  Students will continue using the practice wire until their skill is determined to be good enough to work on a real project.  By applying their skills immediately to a real piece of rigging on board a working ship, they can not only see the practical purpose of the skill, but they also know that their work has to be good enough to be counted on as an integral part of the rigging.  

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Erin Greig First Bermudian Woman to be Navigator

Former Picton Castle crew member, Erin Greig, was featured in The Royal Gazette in Bermuda yesterday.  Erin is the first woman in Bermuda to gain the Junior Navigator’s Certificate from Warsash Marine Academy in England and become an Officer of the Watch.  Her sea time on a number of sail training ships, including Picton Castle, helped to get her there!

Congtatulations, Erin!

The full article is available here.

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