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Voyage to the Gulf of Mexico

In 12+ years with Picton Castle, I’ve learned that the itinerary of a sailing ship is always flexible and that anything can change at any moment. So, when we were approached by Tall Ships America with an invitation to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge in the Gulf of Mexico this April, we didn’t immediately rule it out.

If you’re a regular reader of the Captain’s Log and/or our website or newsletter, you’ll know that we’ve been preparing for an around the world voyage. In fact, this will be Picton Castle’s seventh world circumnavigation, and her last. We intend to keep the ship sailing long into the future, Captain Moreland will even sometimes be in command, but he has made it clear that this will be his last circumnavigation under sail.

World Voyage 7 was scheduled to begin at our home base in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada in March/April this year. Trainees would have joined us in mid March for training and orientation, and to help rig up and prepare the ship, setting sail from Lunenburg by mid April. The three tall ship port visits that make up the Tall Ships Challenge are also scheduled for April, in Galveston, Texas; Pensacola, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana all in the USA.

All of our previous world voyages have started and ended in Lunenburg. It took us a little while to wrap our heads around starting World Voyage 7 in a port other than Lunenburg, but that’s exactly what we’ve decided to do. We’re going to squeeze in the Tall Ships Challenge before we begin World Voyage 7.

Although this requires some itinerary changes, there are plenty of good reasons to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge this April. Primarily is that Picton Castle has never sailed the Gulf of Mexico before or visited these southern US ports, so it’s a chance for us to take the ship somewhere new and different. And it gives us availability for short voyage legs of just a week or two, allowing people who don’t have 3+ months to sail to join the ship for a taste of the trainee experience.

And, by lucky coincidence, we’ll be beginning the World Voyage in New Orleans at the same time as the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Although the crew will be busy with the ship, they may have the occasional evening off duty to take in some of the incredible music found throughout the city.

If you live in or near Galveston, Pensacola or New Orleans, we’d love to have you visit the ship. As part of the tall ships festivals we’ll be participating in, we’ll be opening our decks for public tours. Please come and see us!

And for those of you who live in cold climates and want a break from winter, or for those of you who want to sail for just a short period of time, why not join us as a trainee? No sailing experience is necessary to be a trainee crew member. There is an application process where we ascertain that you’re in good health and that you would be good shipmate. Trainees are an integral part of the crew and participate fully in sailing the ship.

As we speak, we’re getting Picton Castle ready to set sail from Lunenburg, under the command of Captain Sam Sikkema, bound for Bermuda where we’ll get the ship looking her best for her public appearances in the Gulf of Mexico.

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