Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Day’s Run' Category

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By: Purser Allison Steele

With new crew on board, we began training them in basic seamanship techniques such as tying knots and how to handle lines. It can be very overwhelming at first when faced with over 180 lines on board, each serving a different purpose. Once you begin to understand the mechanics of square rig sails it all starts to make sense and the knowledge and understanding starts to click. Often we are asked “do you have to know anything about sailing to sign aboard PICTON CASTLE?” and the answer is always no. We will introduce you to the skills you need and you’ll learn them by actually sailing the ship, all with the careful guidance of our experienced crew.

A view of some of the many lines on Picton Castle

Square rigged ships like PICTON CASTLE are much different than traditional schooner rigged or fore and aft sailing vessels and even seasoned schooner sailors find themselves learning all over again. The wind will always be the wind but how we harness it varies.

Each time we leave port we practice our emergency procedures. It might mean for longer term crew they are performing drills every week or 10 days but it helps to keep us sharp and ready to respond in an emergency. Fire, Abandon Ship and Man Overboard scenarios can often feel hectic but every person has a specific task that needs to be carried out calmly and effectively and repetition helps to establish a good working team. Some of those tasks involve quick line handling so learning where the ropes are and what purpose they serve is important to grasp. Practice makes perfect!


Noon Position: 44°39′.1N 062°02′.8W

Course + Speed: NW 4.5kts

Wind direction + Speed: W Force 3

Swell Height + Direction: W 1m

Weather: overcast and rainy

Day’s Run: 108.9nm

Log: 126 nm

Distance to Port: 105.8nm

Voyage: 5298nm


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Day’s Run – 3 August, 2017


SMALL BOAT EXTRAVAGANZA!! Once we were anchored and settled, the crew of PICTON CASTLE launched all of our small boats for a fantastic afternoon of sailing in the great anchorage. With Jane, Monomoy and Sea Never Dry flitting around the bay enjoying some perfect weather, the crew learned the finer points of small boat sailing which, in reality, transfers quite well to larger ship sailing. The basic concepts are the same just on a smaller scale. After a great afternoon, the crew settled into dinner, then more small boat sailing and a swim call. The water is surprisingly warm although there were only a few brave souls as most wanted to continue sailing.

As the evening progressed, other ships in the fleet begin to join us in the harbour.  I can only imagine the view from the Fortress of Louisbourg with all the Tall Ships in the background. Like stepping back in time!

Noon Position: At anchor off of the Fortress of Louisbourg, NS.  45°53′.957N 59°58.985W

Wind: S1/2E

Weather: Good

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Day’s Run – 2 August, 2017


By Purser Allison Steele

With ship’s work continuing on, many of the crew are enjoying their new roles and adjusting to new challenges. The New Lead Seaman are leading their watches through line drills and practising stowing aloft. There are different methods to stowing sails and they need to be done quickly and efficiently should weather arise so this is an important skill to be practised at. The Mate also lead a workshop on Ratlines and several spares were constructed and maintenance checks to current ones. The crew lined up along the stretched out wires and enjoyed the messy fun of tarring! The application of tar protects the rigging from the wearing elements from the sea and weather not unlike paint and varnish. This type of maintenance work is vital to a ship not only for aesthetics but to provide protection and treatment. Without varnish, for example, wood would not last nearly as long as it does. There are parts of the quarterdeck that are original from PICTON CASTLE’s construction in 1928 that have been carefully maintained over the years. Sailing a vessel such as ours is not just about setting sails, it’s about how to care for the ship so that she can take you to far flung places in the world. A job worth doing.

Noon Position: 47°12′.9N 060°11′.6W

Course and Speed: SxW 3.6kts

Wind: NE 1/2 kts

Swell: ENE <1kts

Visibility: Good

Day’s Run: 85.8nm

Log: 182.9nm

Distance to Port: 94.9nm

Voyage Log: 5172.4nm


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Captain’s Log – Norris Point Part 1

By Purser: Allison Steele

We’ve always known Newfoundland is a beautiful, hospitable province but nothing could prepare us for the incredible welcome we received at Norris Point. The entire community threw open their hearts and hearths for the crew of PICTON CASTLE in true Newfoundlander fashion. From the huge turnout upon our arrival to the warmth and generosity shown the minute we stepped off the ship, this is definitely a port visit we will never forget.

Fishermen’s Flotilla


Against some of the most beautiful scenery as a backdrop for our ship, we wound our way through the fiords to arrive at Norris Point being escorted by a flotilla of small fishing vessels decorated with balloons and streamers, full of people waving enthusiastically as they have not had a tall ship in this port for many years. Captain Sikkema docked the ship in his true fashion, without a hitch or even a nudge to the wharf and received a warm round of applause. Ship’s cat Fiji, of course, was first to depart the ship and began her stay by delighting the crowds of onlookers. Although we are only here for a few short days, we know that it will be a time to remember.




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Day’s Run – 27 July, 2017

By Purser Allison Steele

We made some good distance today with a combination of sailing and motorsailing, taking advantage of the winds when we could. Through the Anticosti Chanel, the winds can be variable and switch often so it is a good opportunity to run sail handling drills. Practice makes perfect and the new crew is catching on well. It often takes a while to become quick but they are catching on fast under the guidance and instruction of more seasoned crew. PICTON CASTLE has a few cadets from marine training schools sailing with us this summer, and with a month left to go thoughts are leaning towards completing the documentation that is expected from them at the end of the voyage. Second Mate Luis has been working with the cadets testing their knowledge as well as instruction on chart plotting and documentation requirements. Right now we have cadets from Canada, USA and Belgium representing their individual schools and taking advantage of some great sailing.

As we make our way towards Norris Point, we have made good time so we plan to head to anchor tomorrow evening to spend some time getting ready and perhaps if weather permits, enjoy some small boat sailing or rowing with the beautiful and rugged backdrop of the Newfoundland coast.

Noon Position: 49°25′.2N 061°04′.9W

Course and Speed: SE 3/4S 5.5kts

Wind: SW at Force 5

Swells: WSW 1/2 metres

Weather: Overcast

Day’s Run: 131.4NM

Log: 497.4NM

Distance to Port: 127.9NM

Voyage Log: 4870NM


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A Voyage Under Sail Around The World

A voyage under sail around the world – setting out, the skippers view.

Captain D.Moreland

Next spring I plan to cast off in the Barque PICTON CASTLE, from her old wooden pier on Lunenburg’s historic working waterfront and set sail with a new gang outward bound on a grand voyage around the world in square-rig. But this will be our last world voyage.

A long time ago in my early 20’s I signed off the beautiful Danish built wooden Brigantine ROMANCE in the Caribbean after four years aboard and as the mate at the end of a world voyage. Her skipper, Captain Arthur M. Kimberly was an age-of-sail trained master mariner and was as capable a mariners as could come. After that ship, I carried on and went to sea in other fine vessels. When ashore between voyages folks wanted to know what that world voyage was like, I found it hard to explain. Still do. Life goes on. Ships come and go. At some point since that point, accepting that I could not explain what all that time as crew in a cool sailing ship meant to me, under the most able of old school ship masters, sailing with the trade-winds through the islands of South Pacific, the Far East, the Indian Ocean, the coasts of Africa and the West Indies, over all those blue-water ocean miles, I figured that the best answer was just to get the finest square-rigged ship together I could imagine and do it again. With another gang or two of young people having the times of their lives – quite literally – and let them try to explain it all afterwards.

I remember when we set out on our first world voyage back in the bitter cold autumn of 1997. This was after a huge refit in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It was all a very big and exciting project just getting the PICTON CASTLE rigged up and into shape to sail as a square-rigger for deep sea passage making. It began in 1991, first searching for and then finding the perfect ship up a fjord in Norway and steaming her across the North Atlantic to Nova Scotia by way of Denmark, England, Spain, Madeira, Bermuda, Connecticut and Pier 15 South Street Seaport Museum, Isla Manhattoes, New York City.

It was a big job in Lunenburg fitting out this 300-ton barque. Kind of took over all the shipyards of this sea-girt town for most of a year; surveys, engine overhauls, dry-docking, checking the hull, welding sparks flying, new freshwater tanks, piping, wood chips everywhere, new decks, new water-tight bulkheads, lots of new bunks, new heads and showers, new galley, all kinds of safety and fire-fighting equipment fitted, new wiring, stability studies, of course lots of rigging and making masts and yards, pin-rails and fife-rails, new blocks and sails, charts and stuff, putting a crew together and so much else. What a project! Then finally all the work was done, or done enough. We would polish her up at sea while sailing ever westward in the warm tropical trade-winds. Plenty of time for all that. It came time to sail. We had a keen gang aboard eager to see what was over the horizon, sail the seas, explore tropical islands and story-book ports.

As we set off from our wharf there were any number of folks in town who harboured the notion that we would not get past Cross Island. I didn’t blame them. They had seen a few dreamy projects die to nothing at the docks in Lunenburg. But I also did not pay them too much mind. Joshua Slocum got the same treatment. I knew we had a great ship, an excellent crew and warm weather was just on the other side of the Gulf Stream not so far away, only 3 or 4 days out. Off we sailed in early December. It blew and was cold enough for a few days but soon we were peeling off the sweaters and getting into shorts and tee-shirts. By then that epic ocean voyage was well under way.

A few years later, with the ship back in Lunenburg all snuggly moored between such voyages, after the doubts by the shore ‘experts’ whether this ship could even make it past Cross Island were long dismissed – Cross Island being just seven miles out of Lunenburg harbour- never mind a 30,000 mile world voyage or two or three, occasionally young families would be pushing their strollers down our dock on a south westerly breezy summer’s day and they might comment to me that when their bambino was old enough he or she was going to sail with me around the world in PICTON CASTLE. I was charmed. My thoughts would wander to those days just before our first voyage and I would wonder… I was impressed how a healthy and reasonable scepticism had transformed into a vision of granite-like and never-ending perpetual world voyages for me and the PICTON CASTLE. I really did not think that I would still be setting out like that again twenty years on. But I am, and we are, and this wonderful ship is making one more world voyage under my command. And I am as excited as anybody.

Picton Castle under stuns’ls


Why climb Mt Everest? And I am telling you that for all its challenges – and there are plenty – our voyage has got to be more fun than that. And warmer. Better food…and by way; someone told me when we started out that there were more men alive that had walked on the moon than there were folks who had sailed around the world in a square-rigger like PICTON CASTLE in the last 50 years. That, of course, what with six world voyages racked up, has changed now. But there are still more people today that have been dragged up to the top of that highest mountain of the world, Mt Everest, than have sailed a square-rigged ship like PICTON CASTLE on a global circumnavigation. Think about that.

Why again?

I could go on about the many rich rewards a crewmember reaps from such a voyage in PICTON CASTLE; skills, strengths, meeting folks and experiencing cultures in far distant ports first hand and just the accomplishment itself – and I will at some point maybe – but the question is ‘why?’ for me, the now quite mature captain who has that circumnavigation box pretty well ticked? Good question.

Well, for one, if I knew that I could make this voyage happen for a new generation of adventurers one more time, and chose not to, well then, that would be a crying shame. Every voyage is its own unique odyssey.  A voyage around the world is never routine.

And still, it remains for me an amazing a privilege and indeed an honour to be the master of such a fine staunch proven blue-water sailing ship, a ship that has never let us down in over 250,000 miles at sea, and to be called upon to lead such a grand blue-water voyage, the ultimate voyage, and an adventure for a new gang of PICTON CASTLE seafarers. And it’s just too damn cool.

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Day’s Run – 24 July 2017

By Purser: Allison Steele

After leaving the busy Port of Quebec at 0700 yesterday, participating in the Parade of Sail as we went, we began making our way down the St. Lawrence River towards our next port. The St. Lawrence has some very strong current so we often don’t make significant distance despite our speed but we enjoyed the opportunity to set sails giving the new crew a chance to learn at a reasonable pace. We try not to motor much as we are here to sail but in times like these, it sometimes becomes necessary. We did, however, enjoy the silence of sailing for the day as we started to shake off our land legs and get back into routines at sea.

Thanks to Ghislain Côté for the photo!

Later in the afternoon Captain Sikkema and Mate Gabe St. Denis held a workshop for the crew on splicing and ropework. It was a chance to introduce new crew to the different ways ropes can be utilised and a good opportunity for other crew to practice. It’s nice to watch the crew who have been on for a while master the skills they have been learning throughout the summer and lend a hand to new crew. It’s the evolution of a sailor and rewarding as a sail training vessel. Often you can see the excitement on a person’s face when certain concepts or skills seem to click and they start to understand the whys and hows of things as when you first sign on things can seem overwhelming. Often we hear departing crew tell us that it was not enough time to learn all they wanted to and are intent on returning… or sometimes they stay on!

As we fired up the engines at 1900 the silence is replaced by the gentle hum and slight vibrations from the engine. We have miles to go to our next port, which will be Norris Point, Newfoundland.

Noon Position: 48°31′.7N 069°04′.7W

Course: E 1/2 S  4kts

Days Run: 115.0nm

Voyage: 4525nm

Distance: 463.6nm

Wind: SxW 2kts

Weather: Warm

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Day’s Run – 17 July, 2017

By Purser Allison Steele

As we make our way up the St. Lawrence Canal towards Quebec, crew is enjoying somewhat warmer weather, sunshine and the ever present curious wildlife! With seals and whales, including the majestic white beluga, there is always something to see looking out over the water. Today the Captain held a workshop on making baggywrinkle. Seafaring is filled with all sorts of interesting terms and for the most part these words can be traced back to some sort of explanation…..except baggywrinkle. These interesting creations guard the sails against chafe on the stays and are best made with manila strands. When finished they look very much like a long, nicely trimmed lions mane but can stand a fair amount of wear before needing to be replaced. Prevention helps keep us in tip top ship shape and learning new things constantly!


Noon Position: 48°34′.0N 068°48′.2W

Day’s Run: 68.9NM

Average Speed: 3KN

Voyage Distance: 4288NM

Wind: Force 3 East

Weather: clear and sunny




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Day’s Run – 4 July, 2017

The crew woke to a somewhat chilly morning as we make our way towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is an odd feeling for the 4th of July. We wished our American crew members happy Independence Day from within our sweaters and scarves, but this is typical for North Atlantic waters.

Crew spent the day keeping warm by tacking the ship, rig work, varnishing wood and additional aloft training for new crew. There is always something new even as we wait for the wind to shift allowing us to continue towards Sept-Iles, Quebec. For those of us who have been on board since Lunenburg, it’s rather odd to see land around us but the lights at night just add to the beautiful spectacle above for it’s the more remote areas like the passage between mainland Quebec and Ile D’Anticosti that are best for stargazing. During longer voyages, crew of the PICTON CASTLE learn celestial navigation but on shorter summer voyages we are happy to sit back and enjoy.

Noon: 48°57′.0N 063°13′.4W

Day’s Run: 91.7NM

Passage: 209.5NM

Voyage: 3938NM

Course and Speed: SWxW 2 knots

Wind: WNW <1

Weather: Overcast and chilly

Swell height and direction: WNW 1 metre


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Day’s Run – 3 July, 2017

By Ship’s Purser Allison

With 8 new trainees on board from Summerside the new crew are becoming familiar with the ways of the PICTON CASTLE. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming when we first head out to sea but the excitement often prevails. There is so much to learn and remember but soon it becomes easier and other crew members are always available to help guide them through the learning curve. Today the new crew learned about the correct and safe way to use a harness and began their aloft training. It can be very exciting when going aloft the first few times but you are not alone nor are you required to if you are uncomfortable. Being aloft, however, is the best view around and when the command is announced, crew immediately snap to attention and begin their ascent. The view is particularly nice today as we travel up the coast of New Brunswick, past Gaspe towards the Miscou Banks towards the St. Lawrence. This is a short passage but some very good sailing!

Noon Position: 43°52′.4N 064°15′.1W

Day’s Run: 117.8NM

Voyage: 3847NM

Distance to Port: 203NM

Course + Speed: NE 4-8 knots

Wind: Force 3 WSW

Weather: Good, cloudy

Swell Height and Direction: <1 metre SW


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