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Captain’s Log – Passage to Pitcairn III

The Picton Castle sailed past the halfway mark between Galapagos and Pitcairn a couple nights ago. Southeast winds on the beam for many days and blowing pretty fresh at Force 5, gusting 6, have now faired and come in over the quarter and laid down at Force 3-4. Dense overcast at dawn, the ceiling kept lifting and lifting all day and then the blue sky opened up. Yards are almost squared in this following wind, the spanker is in as it is not much of a help sailing so far downwind and some of the staysails between the masts have been taken in as they are blanketed by the big square sails. We saw a pod of what we think were sei whales yesterday afternoon. Big whales, pretty impressive. They followed along in our wake for a while surfing just below the surface of the seas and blowing occasionally.

Sei Whale – Photo By Christin Khan, NOAA / NEFSC –

The Picton Castle crew are all naturals at the big teak steering wheel now.

Sailmakers are under piles of canvas on the quarterdeck. The thick original teak door to the foc’sle and the carpenter’s shop has gotten a beautiful overhaul. It always impresses me that a ship such as ours, designed and built for such prosaic tasks as fishing and freighting, should have such beautiful teak in her original fittings. Same is true in the engine room.

Beautiful copper piping, first class gear all of it. It would cost a million to replace, but of such good quality, we just need to look after it all and keep it up. I am proud and as happy with the fine engine room as I am with the rig of this ship.

We are catching up now on smaller projects, a little carpentry here and there, small welding jobs, all going nicely in this fair weather on a long passage. It seems we still have 20 dedicated navigators learning the arcane arts of the sextant, sun and stars under the guidence of Brigantine Romance marinero Tad. Ditty bags are done and potential sailmakers have been identfied or asked to get into sailmaking more. An afternoon workshop on bracing, sail handling and square sail trim rounds things out on a day of hands-on doing. I am thinking about rigging up to set studding sails of clipper ship days, but the winds are too good right now. With a clear sky, the stars are out in serious force. No city lights, no air pollution, even the Milky Way is starkly clear. The patron saint of southern ocean sailors, the Southern Cross, is two-thirds of the way up to the top of the sky. Maybe tonight people can study the stars if the skies remain this clear. Hard to imagine a better chance to learn the night sky, South Pacific edition.

Sunset at Sea by Tyler Lancaster


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