Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Day’s Run' Category

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Day’s Run – 3 July, 2018

The wind has faired as expected. Now it is no longer abeam but well aft.

Ocean ocean everywhere.

This morning began with gusty winds and larger seas than what we’ve had on this passage. Picton Castle sailed beautifully through the slightly heavier conditions. Light rain on the quarterdeck as the moon was fading off into the distance in the early morning. The sun rose and the clouds parted, turning today into a lovely sunny, cool, windy day.

This morning’s 4-8 watch sent down the spanker, the sail on the mizzen or aftermost mast, for it to be repaired. Once the rigging team had breakfast and harnessed up they took to bending on the alternative spanker. Vai of Tonga lead the team, Suzanne of New York City, USA, Kirsten of Alberta, Canada and Rune of Norway successfully had the sail bent on and ready to set before lunch. The main hatch is busy with projects; the carpenter’s shop teak door is being scuffed and varnished, Monomoy oars are getting scraped and oiled and our wooden ladders are being overhauled just the same.

Celestial navigation education is making headway, having everyone wishing they’d kept up with their high school math and science classes. Last night Picton Castle sailed across the halfway point of this passage to Pitcairn Island.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pictairn
Date:  July 3, 2018
Noon Position: 13°31.2′ S x 110°43.2′ W
Course + Speed: SW + 6.1′
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2.5m + SxE
Weather: bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 147.3nm
Passage Log: 147.3nm
Distance to Port: 1294nm
Voyage: 4890.5nm
Sail Set: All sails, with the exception of spanker, gaff topsail, mizzen staysail, fore topmast staysail

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Day’s Run – 2 July, 2018

Yesterday’s South Seas Seamanship Soiree was a big success. First a neck and neck game of pin rail chases, where a member from each team stands at the ready as the chief mate calls out a line and the three scurry to beat their opponents to touch the belaying pin first. Once each member of the crew had taken a turn, the watches were divided up for three timed events: splices, boxing the compass, and the test of the steadiest hand at helm. It came down to a tie, 4-8 vs 8-12. The tiebreaker being who could fill a trash can full of seawater first with a bucket from the ocean rushing by. Once all the scores were properly tallied and all bribes were distributed to the judges, the results were in, 8-12 are the official 2018 Picton Castle Seamanship Derby Champions – rightfully so, being that it’s the chief mate’s watch.

From here the crew rolled into a celebratory marlinspike punch, not only celebrating the derby but the national days of three nations, Tonga and the USA which both celebrate on July 4th and Canada Day which is celebrated on July 1st. At a very timely moment in the afternoon, a marlinspike miracle occurred: there was a  70lb wahoo on the fishing line! Five-year-old Dawson called it a ‘hoohaa’.  There was lots to celebrate yesterday, good fun had by all.

It’s now Monday morning again and there is steady activity around the decks.

The new daymen are settling into their positions as sailmakers, riggers, and carpenters. Sean of New Orleans, USA is working away on the well deck on a new laundry line spreader. Jack of Virginia, USA is learning the herringbone stitch, a very useful and strong stitch that sailmakers often rely on for repairs. Ship’s cook Donald of Grenada has been preparing the wahoo (the biggest he had ever seen) for dinner, as onlookers drool over the fresh fish. Navigation class is in full swing, taking students to the next level of understanding the three dimensional concepts.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: July 2, 2018
Noon Position: 12°24.5′ S x 108°29.7′ W
Course + Speed: SW + 5.8′
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 3m + ESE
Weather: Bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 140.0nm
Passage Log: 140.3nm
Voyage: 4743.2nm
Sail Set: All sails


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Day’s Run – 1 July, 2018

Rolling down to Pitcairn. Almost halfway. A fresh wind on the port beam, yards braced just so, all sails full and drawing, a white noise as the seas rush by the waterline. Blue white-capped seas as far as we can behold.  Shoals of flying fish taking to wing to get out of our way – just like yesterday. An ocean to ourselves.

Today we enjoy a beautiful Sunday at sea and Canada Day! The Canadian flag was hoisted to the royal yard (the tallest yard) on the foremast and the many Canadians onboard are sporting their red, whites, plaids and toques. Canada sits close to the heart of Picton Castle crew, because despite the cold winters in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the ship calls the country home base. Like Canada is a multicultural country, the Picton Castle is a multicultural vessel. Our mates and lead seamen hail from Bermuda, Germany, Canada, USA, Norway, Denmark, Tonga, Australia, France and Spain.

This morning the ‘Danish Clipper’, our ship’s most stylish barber, Anders of Denmark, was open for business, supplying the crew with the best haircuts this side of the Equator. As Anders states “I don’t give bad haircuts”.

The watches take the traditional ‘Sunday at sea’ and a break from ship’s work today, focusing their attention on preparing for the Seamanship Derby! Costumes are in the works, knots and splices are being practiced, the anticipation is building. Which watch will come out on top? Rumours of bribes and tricks abound.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn Island
Date: July 1, 2018
Noon Position: 11°12.1′ S x 106°27.4 ‘W
Course + Speed: SW + 5.7’
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 3m + SE
Weather: Bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 136.9nm
Passage Log: 140.2nm
Distance to Port: 1574nm
Voyage: 4602.9nm
Sail Set: All sails are set



Anders – The Danish Clipper


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Captain’s Log – Passage to Pitcairn Island

Picton Castle: AM position – Latitude  10 degrees – 03 minutes South, Longitude 104 degrees – 23 minutes West

The islands of the Galapagos lay 1,000 miles astern, Pitcairn Island is ahead 1,700 miles. Between is nothing but the winds, sky and blue ocean of the South Pacific.  The large seas and swell have laid down some from a few days ago, although we still have long swell rolling up from the south. No doubt a storm or low pressure system in the Roaring Forties far away sent this undulation our way.

Conditions are pretty sweet at sea today for the crew of the Barque Picton Castle. Plenty of bright blue sky, sea a dark blue, snowy white caps atop the waves’ crests here and there. Steady and warm southeast tradewinds pull us along this long road toward tiny Pitcairn Island. Force 4 on the Beaufort Scale this breeze is called by sailing ship seafarers; between 11 and 16 knots that would be. From time to time we have been accompanied by friendly dolphins cavorting in the seas and pilot whales who are more sedate. Every now and then a huge school of flying fish takes to wing, perhaps jumping ahead of some fish below with big teeth. A single tropicbird has been following us for some days. These pretty white birds usually fly in pairs. Stormy petrels were with us a few days ago, gone now.

Sometimes the winds pipe up and the flying jib and gaff topsail get taken in and stowed, to be set again soon enough, pulling us along to the southwest, mile after mile.

An hour of helm, steering the ship at the big teak wheel is a delight on a day like today, the beam wind to the sails all drawing and well balanced.

No weather helm if the mates have her braced and the sails trimmed just so.

Forward lookout up on the foc’sle head is a treat in these conditions as well. An hour to one’s self, being the eyes of the ship, beyond the eyes of the ship. The arc of the foot of the fore course right at your shoulder tacked down to the weather cat-head. In quite large ships with wire buntlines, a sailor on lookout could grab ahold of a bunt and get lifted off the deck with the pull of the sail, only to be set down gently as the ship lowers her shoulder to a sea. All four headsails drawing, sheets and sheet pendants taut to leeward. If dolphins are playing at the cutwater the lookout gets a special performance. All is quiet on the foc’sle head for the lookout. Just the wind in rigging and the rush of the seas along the bow.

Not much to see but sea and sky, and a soft period left to your own thoughts. “Look out” is a state, a condition, that could be filled from the quarterdeck by the mate of the watch in conditions of today, but is still all to the good to have an extra pair of eyes up forward looking out to see what they can see. The surviving crew of the lost schooner Pride of Baltimore were passed by several cruise ships in daylight in fair conditions over the four days as they drifted about in their liferaft. No one on the high bridges of these sophisticated ships saw them in their bright coloured liferaft bobbing around east of the Bahamas until finally a cargo ship with some alertness on the bridge found them and hauled them aboard. What kind of lookout were those other ships keeping? Not much out hereabouts but you never know.

Today is Saturday. Today we work at ship’s projects until noon and then clean up and take it easy just steering, keeping a good lookout, got to make food of course and ship checks, but anything apart from critical repairs can wait to get back at them on Monday. This afternoon, we wrap up our sailmaking, new varnish jobs, welding the doorframe into the foc’sle, scraping and revarnishing the ship’s original teak doors (can’t get teak like that anymore), cleaning our many tools – just put it all away – then maybe to work on our ditty bags, practice our sextant work, catch up on washing clothes or doing nothing at all until it is time for a trick at the wheel to steer our ship over these long South Pacific ocean swells, bound for Pitcairn Island.

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Day’s Run – 30 June, 2018

Picton Castle made great headway last night, averaging 7 knots, staying on a southwest course falling off when the wind picked up. The advantage of being the only vessel for 1000+ miles, we have ample ocean room to play with.

This morning the rigging gang headed out into the head rig with tar buckets tied securely to their harnesses in order to slurp some tar on the rig. The sailmakers busted out their sewing palms and needles and carried on with stitching the bright white canvas for two royal sails. Today marks the last day of the rotation for these daymen, Monday a new group of crew members will have the chance to get their hands dirty with the riggers or enjoy their days under the warm sun on the quarterdeck to sew canvas as sailmakers. The well deck was busy as ever, Colin of Nova Scotia, Canada was at the wheel of the wire bench grinder cleaning tools etc. Vaiufia of Tonga was busy keeping the paint locker organized and our Chief Engineer Deyan of Switzerland was welding a replacement piece of steel into the carpenter shop door frame.

At 1358 keen navigators took to the quarterdeck, sextants in hand, to catch a noon sight of the sun. Then relocating below decks to the main salon where they could work out the math, read the nautical almanac and calculate their latitude. The mates have begun to get the crew involved in filling out the passage log. Every hour the log book is documented with such information as the latitude and longitude, course and speed, weather etc. This has been a great exercise for crew members to get involved with, knowing and understanding the world that goes on around them makes them become more aware of their surroundings. Today is the last day for the watches to prep for tomorrow’s Seamanship Derby, team uniforms are getting underway, lead seamen are encouraging their watches to practice knots and splices. It’ll be a great afternoon of good old-fashioned seamanship display, along with bribing, stealing and sabotage (all in good fun, of course).

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: June 30, 2018
Noon Position: 10°05.4’S x 104°26.9’W
Course + Speed: SW + 5.7′
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SExS
Weather: Sunny, light showers
Day’s Run: 136.2nm
Passage Log: 136.5nm
Distance to Port: 1712nm
Voyage: 4462.7nm
Sail Set: All sails are set


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Day’s Run – June 29, 2018

An absolutely beautiful South Pacific tradewind day. All sails set, sailing mile after mile, in the groove.

Gorgeous blue sky filled with puffy cotton-like clouds surrounding the ship and sea. Sounds of rust busting steel rails on the foc’sle, scraping and sanding Fijian mahogany pinrails on the quarterdeck, brushing on varnish and paint and sawing wood all echo throughout the ship today. The sailmakers are spread out on the sunny quarterdeck, needles in hand, seaming and roping two royals. The rigging gang finished off the last of the servings on the fore t’gallant footropes and re-secured them to the yard. The rig rat Lars of Norway continued his parceling work on the fore mast rigging, as Valerie of British Columbia spent her morning tarring the headrig. At 1252 ship’s time all sextants were in the hands of eager navi-guessers taking a noon sight.

This afternoon will be the last in the series of ditty bag workshops, soon everyone on board should have a canvas ditty bag completed and deeper understanding of basic sailmaking – always a rewarding task, and it provides a great storage bag for a sailor’s tools. Sunday is the Seamanship Competition, consisting of rope work, pin rail chases, boxing the compass, and most importantly the costume contest. Here’s hoping the judges accept bribes, the teams may need to muster up some alternative methods in order to come out on top.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: June 29 2018
Noon Position: 08°55.4’S x 102°28.4’W
Course + Speed: SW 1/2 S + 4.8′
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + ESE
Weather: Bright, Sunny
Day’s Run: 108.3nm
Passage Log: 115.5nm
Distance to Port: 1842nm
Voyage: 4326.2nm
Sail Set: All sails


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Day’s Run – June 28, 2018

Blue sky, seas laid down, a tropic bird passing over head, easy winds, ocean for as far as the eye can see on this clear South Pacific day.

The wind has calmed down today, the ship is sailing at a speed of about 4-5 knots. Work on deck is in full swing, calmer seas allows work on deck to run smoothly, with less chance of a paint can tipping over or a tool rolling off the hatch.

The rigging department continued serving the t’gallant foot ropes. This consists of using marlin and wrapping it ever so tightly around the wire with the use of a mallet and marlinspike tightening the end with a marlin hitch. Of course applying a sizeable amount of tar; tar is like sunscreen for the rig, it’s a great preservative.

The sail making department was busy sewing on roping and seaming the new royal sail. The teak door and frame to the carpenter shop, that hail from Norway circa 1952, were scraped by Kirsten of Alberta, Canada and Tony of England, in preparation for varnishing. The port breezeway head door and frame received another coat of varnish.

At 1230 eager celestial navigators got out the ship’s sextants and took a noon sight, using the sextant to measure the angle of the sun above the horizon, marking for some their first ever!

Dawson, the Captain’s five and a half year old son, and Annie, both of Canada, enjoyed a healthy game of broom hockey, preparing for this Sunday’s July 1st Canada Day celebrations.

At 1530 all hands mustered on the quarterdeck for continued lessons on ditty bag making. Today’s topic was grommets, which represents the roping portion of sail making. We’re now officially less than 2000 nautical miles away from Pitcairn Island!

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: Thrusday June 28 2018
Noon Position: 07°55.6’S x 100°57.7’W
Course + Speed: SW + 4.9 knots
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 2 + SExS
Weather: Bright and sunny
Day’s Run: 124.7nm
Passage Log: 127.2nm
Distance to Port: 1957nm
Voyage: 4210.7nm
Sail Set: All sails

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Day’s Run – June 27, 2018

Only 2,000 miles to go to Pitcairn Island. Misty rain squalls that leave us rolling in short calms and put a damper on paint projects as well as slow down the sailmaking. But all is good enough. We are headed the right direction with warm fair winds.

Lots of rigging, sailmaking and small carpentry jobs are going on as we roll on down to Pitcairn. This morning Lars, of Norway, made a small wire splice on a t’gallant sheet and attached the new chain.

The carpenters have had their hands busy, yesterday Anders, of Denmark, overhauled the carpenter shop work bench and vice. Today his team is busy fixing up the carpenter shop door and frame as well as the capstan bar rack which is lashed to the after side of the foc’sle head rail. The rigging team took down the fore t’gallant foot ropes and are replacing the servings on the well deck – a gooey tarry sailor job.

More classes continue with Tad, of Washington, USA, teaching the eager nautical minds celestial navigation. Various parts of the ship received another coat of varnish this morning; the port side bridge pin rail, starboard side galley house and the starboard quarterdeck ladder.

All bets are in as to when we will drop anchor off the coast of Pitcairn. Everyone is looking forward to unloading the department store of items we have stored in the hold to bring to them.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: June 27, 2018
Noon Position: 06°44,9’S x 099°13,9′ W
Course + Speed: SW 1/2 S +5.3′
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 3.5 + SExS
Weather: Sunny, periods of rain
Day’s Run: 124.8nm
Passage Log: 126.4nm
Distance to Port: 2082nm
Voyage: 4083.5nm
Sail Set: All sails, including the gaff topsail!

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Day’s Run – June 26, 2018

The sound of scuffing sandpaper on mahogany and teak and the smell of varnish is abundant on deck on this beautiful sunny morning. The lee side of the galley house and the double doors of the salon received another coat of varnish – you can never have too many coats. The quarterdeck is covered with white canvas that blinds your eyes from the reflection of the sun, like white snow in winter time. Sailmaker John is keeping his assistants, Anne-Laure, of France, and Anne, of New York City, busy stitching patches and grommets on an upper topsail. This morning’s gang of rig rats (referring to crew members who enjoy spending more time aloft then on deck) Lars, of Norway, Kimba, of Ontario, Canada, and Corey, of Saskatchewan, Canada, were busy on the foremast repairing and replacing chafe gear. The rigging team rove off a new port fore main brace and are now aloft on the mizzen bending on the ship’s last sail, aside from stuns’ls, the gaff topsail!

Yesterday’s announcement of the South Pacific Seamanship Competition, to be held in the near future, has kicked the lead seamen into high gear, testing their watches to improve on their skills and nautical knowledge. Yesterday also began the first day of the ship’s celestial navigation course run by Tad, of Washington, USA. Each day he will run a class for those interested, his goal that he has set out for everyone is to not use any technology at all, except a sextant and a watch. Tomorrow the crew will continue with making their ditty bags in quest of sailmaking skills. And all bets must be handed in, it’s anyone’s guess – when will we arrive at Pitcairn Island?

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: Tuesday June 26
Noon Position: 05°35.2′ S x 097°28.6’W
Course + Speed: SWxS + 3.5
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 3-4
Swell Height + Direction: 3m + SSE
Weather: Bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 132.2nm
Passage Log: 127.1nm
Distance to Port: 2207nm
Voyage: 3957nm
Sail Set: All sails (gaff topsail is being bent on now!)

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Passage Towards Pitcairn

A blue whale swam by the ship this morning. The Picton Castle is sailing deeper and deeper into the South Pacific Ocean. After a few days of overcast and light squalls not far from the Equator we now are sailing along with a fresh beam breeze to port heeling the ship a little to starboard.

Fair weather blue sky with tradewind popcorn clouds scudding low across our path towards Pitcairn Island. The seas are large and long as we expect to find hereabouts. Mahimahi and skip-jack are grabbing our trailing fishing lines. Flying fish burst from the dark blue sea and scatter to windward before us. Royals and flying jib are set and the braces have been hauled in a bit.

Daymen at the sailing ship trades have been stuck out. Sailmakers on the quarterdeck ready a few sails for bending and soon will be working on new ones. Carpenters have dragged out the considerable tool supply and are now cleaning the surface rust and sharpening them too. Riggers are renewing lines here and there, none have broken but some of these old ropes owe us nothing. And the riggers have a job ahead overhauling all the ship’s rigging tools as well. Long steel wire-splicing marlinspikes, rigging vices and clamps, serving boards, fids and mallets and mush else all subject to a good cleaning and coats of oil.

Sextants were out in force on the quarterdeck as the sun reached its zenith near noon. 62 degrees off the northern horizon is where the sun stopped going up and began to head down again. The ship’s boy began his Calvert School classes today. He wants to learn but mostly wants to learn about dinosaurs. And to learn if his Uncle Donald has any extra treats for him. Like a lollipop perhaps…

A blue whale swam by the ship today. 2,334 miles to go to Pitcairn Island. I had never seen a blue whale at sea before.

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