Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
Picton Castle – bound from Mangareva for Rarotonga.
The day came in overcast, clouds parted late morning, clear blue skies, bright hot sun shining down as we shut down the main engine at 1145 and set all sails.
To recap on our last port of call, the town of Rikitea on the island of Mangareva in French Polynesia was an excellent stay. Anchored in the harbour, we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the tiny roadside town which holds two churches, about five little general stores, a post office, artisan gallery, a closed pizza joint (due to the oven being busted), police station and the bakery. Every morning as the sun was rising, a few crew members tip-toed across the deck, careful not to wake their sleeping shipmates, and took the skiff ashore to pick up fresh baguettes! Miraculously, a large container of Nutella was discovered deep in the hold, so our mornings were always off to a great start. With little activity going on in town, crew members enjoyed spending time at the beach, hiking the nearby trails and making friends with the locals.
By sailing into Rikitea, our chief mate Erin of Bermuda has now completed her circumnavigation, having joined Picton Castle in the exact same port four years ago. She, along with Captain Moreland, arranged two overnight boat expeditions to the outer islands. It consisted of 20 crew members, three boats (the monomoy and the dory Sea Never Dry and the outboard powered semi-dory as our gear and rescue boat, should we need it), food and water supplies and camping gear. Both groups left mid to late morning on separate days, one after the other, as we always maintain a watch on the ship. They sailed or rowed, weather depending, about 3-4 miles to one of a few islands in sight of the ship: Aukena for one group; Akamaru for the other. Once they nagivated the boats through the shallow reef water the crew hauled the boats up onto the beach, making the bow line secure to a tree and sending an anchor line out the stern. Camp was set up, hammocks strung (not under coconut trees to avoid injury by falling coconut), a campfire was built and a communal tent was constructed in the event of rain.
Once camp was set up people began to explore the area. A trail ran through the forest, leading to old two-story-high stone ruins, which was rumored to have once been a school. On the other side of the campsite along the shore, was a stone lookout which was built by the French in order to keep an eye on the comings and goings of the channel. Crew members slowly trickled back to camp and as others were drying off from snorkeling it was time to make a feast. Two campfires were constructed in order to cook some lamb, and a copious amount of breadfruit and rice and for dessert a cheese fondue into which we dipped our baguettes. Some of the best meals are made by campfire! Everyone was very satisfed and full or as the Pitcairners say “belly a bust”. Both parties enjoyed a sail or row back to the ship. With smiles on their faces and sand on their feet, it was a well earned adventure.
Mangareva was also a great port to practice small boat handling. The semi-dory has a 15 horsepower 4-stroke outboard which is excellent training for skiff runs. The monomoy and Sea Never Dry were available every day for keen sailors to take out and boot around the bay. All three boats were well used and many crew members had a hand at coxswaining the small vessels.
Ship’s Work: Now back underway, likely for a bit less than two weeks, crew members are shaking off the shore brain and are keen to get back into the swing of things. A few people have been swapped around on the watches – it’s always nice to change up the routine and see what days are like on another watch. For this week the daymen each have one extra helping hand: Tony of England is assisting in the carpentry department with Anders of Denmark and Carlos of Ontario, Canada. The three of them are busy replacing planks in the deck and fixing our gas container rack. Tristan of Washington, USA is teaming up with Vaiufia of Tonga and Anne-Laure of France in the rigging department. They are busy replacing square seizings on the fore mast shrouds, making grommets and replacing roband lashings that hold the sails to the yards. Lastly, Mike of British Columbia, Canada is teamed up with sailmaker John of Boston, USA to assist and learn more about the world of sail making. Never a dull moment on board the Picton Castle!
From: Mangareva, French Polynesia
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 7, 2018
Noon Position: 22°39.9′ S x 137°27.0′ W
Course + Speed: WxN + 6 knots (under motor) Wind Direction + Force: NNW + 2 Swell Height + Direction: 3.5m + NxE, SW
Weather: Bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 140.1nm
Passage Log: 144.8nm
Distance to Port: 1246nm
Sails Set: All fore mast sails, outer jib, main royal, main t’gallant, upper tops’l, lower tops’l, spanker, mizzen topmast stays’l, main topmast stays’l