Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Chibley' Category

| More

Sailing from Cobh to Falmouth

The day came in grey, overcast and drizzly. The morning light began to seep through the dark of night well before dawn at four AM. In these northern latitudes we get a lot of light at this time of year – plenty of light by 4:00 AM and you can still see at 10:30-11:00 PM. Proper dark night time is only about five hours long.

All hands were bestirred at about 0500 this morning to get underway to sail from Ireland bound for Falmouth, Cornwall, England, 190 miles away. The way the Picton Castle was moored we needed the last of the ebb tide to help peel her bow off the stone bulkhead, otherwise we would be stuck there until the next tide change. Soon the main engine was deeply rumbling as it faithfully does, chafe gear was off the hawsers and they were being singled up. Two hands stayed on the quay to let go our last lines, with the third mate standing by in the skiff to pick them up and get them back out to the ship before hoisting the boat. We backed down on a stern spring, the ebb tide caught the bow and the bow paid off away from the quay and soon we were making our way down the channel.

We called Cork Harbour Radio and let them know we were underway and our general intentions. They in turn let us know about inbound traffic. At this point Chibley came on deck (she had been incarcerated in the fore-peak due to animal regulations). It was raining and we rarely see her on deck when it is raining but this time she stomped all around checking on her ship, rain or no rain. She got a good soaking of rain before she was satisfied with her inspection tour. Well, something was on her mind anyway.

As we made our way past the channel buoys we saw a big 150,000 ton oil tanker at the oil terminal that had come in overnight and a small 400 ton coaster piled high with logs steaming inbound. At 0700 we were abeam of Roaches Point making our departure from land and loosing sail. By 0730 we were several miles at sea under all sail to the t’gallants steering southeast making 5 knots towards Lands End, Cornwall. The name gives it away. Lands End is the most southwestern point of land of mainland England. Our wind was a decent force 5-6 down from 7-8 last night and seas were not too big at all. By 0900 we were making good way in the right direction – ship well secured for sea. Just us and a couple fishing trawlers out here dragging around in the mists of the Celtic Sea. All is well enough. Wind making up here before noon, took in and furled t’gallants. Kolin, Corey and Nadja aloft to stow the stiff wet canvas and get a gasket passed around the sail and the yard.


Wind has picked up a little and faired or veered, which means the direction has rotated clockwise making it all the more useful to us. The ship is going along very nicely, making 6+ knots with a point to spare on our course for Lands End. The seas have made up to 6-10 feet, all a pale grey with peaks covered in spreads of white sea foam. Visibility is about three miles. We have fresh fruit in our deck fruit lockers from the market in Cork, apples and sweet little pears, pretty nice to munch while on the quarter-deck.

IMG 0596
IMG 0822
IMG 0868

View the the rest of this Album

| More

Plugging Along

43-50N / 025-48W

Wind SEly at force 5-6, steering NEly at 5+knots under upper topsails, courses, fore & main topmast-staysl’s

Our skies are grey, overcast and low clouds scooting across. But the barometer is pretty high and steady, we are sailing along just fine. The Picton Castle is about 800 miles from Ireland, the Azorean Islands are 300 miles to our south and Lunenburg is now about 1800 miles back in our wake, we have sailed every inch apart from four hours motoring in a flat calm a couple weeks ago. We are having a North Atlantic passage to be very pleased and satisfied with… thus far. We could crack on more sail and go a little faster but with the way seas are arrayed the fo’c’sle gang would get a bit of a roller coaster ride. We are plugging along just fine at 120 miles a day, not so bad.

Our afternoon workshops have been much about greater weather patterns, dealing with lows and sail handling and sail choices and decision making in strong winds and heavy weather.

Chibbley the cat supervises getting the fore royal ready to bend.Chibley the cat is very talkative lately. I am convinced that when she meows off at me or someone else she is absolutely sure that she is clearly articulating a very specific and logical point and quite likely giving instructions. She comes into the chart house, twirls around, meows at me or someone else looking up with her big, soulful cat eyes, flips her tail with a little curl at the tip and goes out on deck with one final glance. She has made her point clear and left us to sort it out. Trouble is, we have no idea what she said apart from “meow.” If she had words she would be using them. As it is I think she is pretty sure that she has words, maybe she does and we are just too dense to sort it out…she likes the cargo hatch if there are people on it doing something, like working on sails.

| More

Winter Preparations

Winter has really taken hold here in Lunenburg. It’s snowing outside my office window, the beginning of what is forecast to be five centimetres tonight. The wind is blowing from the southeast, causing whitecaps in the harbour and I can hardly see the golf course across the water through the snow and fog. Picton Castle is still tied snugly to her wharf, rocking in the waves that are formed when the wind blows up Lunenburg Bay.

Work continues aboard as we prepare for the Voyage of the Atlantic. Finn is making great progress in the engine room, mounting and re-wiring lights, getting parts overhauled and keeping the furnace running when it gets really cold to stop the pipes from freezing. Kjetil, Ben, Ryan and Sarah have made good headway in overhauling all the blocks (over 300 of them!), which were sent down and into the warehouse in the fall. Each block is taken apart, inspected, scraped, cleaned, greased and oiled as necessary. Some take only a few minutes to overhaul, some take much longer. They’re also doing some varnish work, with yards laid across sawhorses in the warehouse for scraping and sanding, then hung from beams in the ceiling to varnish.

The office continues to be busy, with packages arriving almost daily by courier or mail that contain catalogues, publications and samples as we provision the ship for the voyage. We need to make sure there’s enough of everything from crew T-shirts to Chibley’s flea medication. We have heard recently from a number of people in Europe who have connections to Picton Castle, many family members of former crew who worked aboard when she was fishing or carrying cargo. They’re excited to see what the ship is like now, and we’re thrilled to share her with them. There are only a few more months of winter, and a few more months until we sail away on our next exciting adventure.

Kjetil overhauls a block
Ryan sands a yard

View the the rest of this Album

| More

Cat Tales

She’s circled the globe three times and continues to be one of the most recognized members of our crew. She’s Ms Chibley Bits, the Picton Castle‘s cat, and she’s just written her first book.

Of course, Chibs needed a little help—keyboards being rather cumbersome for her six-toed paws—so Mineville, Nova Scotia resident Ruth Wells kindly came to her assistance.

A sailor herself, Ruth first met Chibley in 2004, though she’d been introduced to her ship and reputation a full four years earlier.

It was during the giant Tall Ships 2000 celebration at Halifax and Ruth had just returned home from touring the visiting ships, including the Picton Castle. “I was telling my daughter, a 911 dispatcher, about being aboard the Picton Castle and she said ‘that’s the one that had the cat go missing.’”

In fact, several of Halifax’s finest had been dispatched to look for Chibley, who had gone AWOL following the Parade of Sail. Crew members, previously anxious to get underway for the ship’s home port of Lunenburg, refused to sail until she was found.

Of course, Chibley eventually turned up—she simply wasn’t finished with matters ashore. The media had a heyday.

As for Ruth, she was “fascinated to learn of a shipboard cat. Everyone we knew lost them overboard.” That’s why the Wells’ had a rabbit aboard their sailboat. She decided this feline had a story to tell.

Ruth spent a couple of years writing this first book, Chibley: the Cat Who Went to Sea. A second tale is already in the works.

Ruth and the book’s illustrator, Doug McCabe, will both be on hand at the Picton Castle Sea Chest, 132 Montague Street, Lunenburg, this Saturday, May 12, from 2-4 p.m.

While unable to attend personally, Chibley—currently bound for Charleston aboard the Picton Castle—will be offering special paw-o-graphs for $2 with all proceeds going toward the purchase of educational materials to be distributed to needy schools during future voyages.

© 2003–2018 Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company Ltd. | Partners | Site Map | Privacy Policy