Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Gulf of Mexico' Category

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Here We Go Again

Picton Castle got underway this afternoon, bound for Bermuda. If that sounds familiar, it should. We also got underway for Bermuda last Thursday. Let me explain.

This past Thursday, Picton Castle got underway from her wharf in our beautiful home base of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. There was quite a crowd on the dock to send the ship off including Lunenburg mayor Rachel Bailey and local MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. This was to be the last time Picton Castle would be present in Lunenburg for almost a year and a half. The ship got off the wharf at 4:00pm as scheduled and went out to anchor in the harbour for the night.

On Friday, the crew were busy all day with safety drills and the last of the task of stowing and securely lashing everything down for sea. Late Friday, Picton Castle got underway, sailed past the lighthouse at the end of Battery Point, and left the harbour. She went as far as Rose Bay where she anchored overnight again, waiting for the weather window that would bring good conditions for departure on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, Picton Castle got underway from Rose Bay, bound for St. George’s, Bermuda. The plan was to stay close to the Nova Scotia shore in order to put the ship in a good position to pick up the northwest winds after a low pressure system passed us by. By Saturday afternoon, it became apparent that there was a mechanical issue. The Captain and crew started to diagnose the problem, figuring out the scope of the problem and how to fix it. By Saturday evening, the decision was made to turn back to Lunenburg. The ship was not far from the Nova Scotia coast and still in Canadian waters. Had it been a summer-weather passage, we would likely have continued on to Bermuda, finding and fixing the problem while underway under sail. But winter in the North Atlantic is a different story. We played it safe and turned back for Lunenburg. On the way back, we found and fixed the problem (a leaky hose).

Picton Castle arrived in Lunenburg on Sunday morning in order to do a double-check of all systems and to find the next window of fair weather for a passage to Bermuda. The crew were in good spirits, all still eager to get to warmer weather in Bermuda. Even Chief Cook Donald, who is from the sunny, tropical Caribbean island of Grenada, didn’t seem too bothered by seeing some more snow.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when Picton Castle got underway for Bermuda for the second time in a week. She left without fanfare this time, just our shore crew to cast off the lines and a few onlookers who were in the right place at the right time to see her off. Picton Castle is anchored in Rose Bay this evening, staying overnight then will set sail tomorrow for Bermuda. The feeling of anticipation amongst the crew before a big voyage was just as strong today as it was last Thursday.

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Returning to Lunenburg

Because of a mechanical issue, Picton Castle is returning to our wharf in Lunenburg. The ship was close to home, still in Canadian waters, so we figured it is easiest and better to head back instead of working at sea this time of year to make the fix. The crew and cat are all well, and the ship is fine. We expect it to take a couple of days to resolve the issue, then we’ll set sail for Bermuda again in the next weather window.

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Day’s Run – February 17, 2018

First day of the Gulf voyage 2018! Started the day with sunshine, heaved up and got under way at 07:30, bound for Bermuda. Sailing southwest with clear skies, it’s beautiful but cold with icicles forming on the rails. Everyone is as bundled up as possible trying to stay warm, and consuming an extreme amount of tea and hot chocolate.

Date: February 17, 2018
Noon Position: 43°52.8’N-064°34.9’W
Course + Speed: SW 7kts
Wind direction + Speed: NWxN, F 5
Swell Height + Direction: 1/2m, NWxN
Weather: Clear with freezing spray
Day’s Run: 41nm
Log: 41nm
Distance to Port: 686nm
Voyage: 41nm

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Setting Sail From Lunenburg

It has been a while since we updated the Captain’s Log – we’ve been so busy getting Picton Castle ready to set sail from Lunenburg that we have been ignoring our blogging duties. We’ll bring you up to date on all the activities of the crew here at our home base in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada in the next few days.

However, we don’t want to wait to tell you about Picton Castle‘s planned departure from Lunenburg. The ship will get off the wharf at about 4:00pm on Thursday February 15, 2018 and head out to anchor in Lunenburg Harbour, then will get underway from the anchorage the following day once the final details are in order, bound for Bermuda.

All are welcome to join us on our wharf at 174 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg, just before 4:00pm on February 15th to wish the ship and crew well on her upcoming voyage. Picton Castle is scheduled to return to Lunenburg in May 2019, so this will be the last chance to see her in Lunenburg for almost a year and a half.

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Voyage to the Gulf of Mexico

In 12+ years with Picton Castle, I’ve learned that the itinerary of a sailing ship is always flexible and that anything can change at any moment. So, when we were approached by Tall Ships America with an invitation to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge in the Gulf of Mexico this April, we didn’t immediately rule it out.

If you’re a regular reader of the Captain’s Log and/or our website or newsletter, you’ll know that we’ve been preparing for an around the world voyage. In fact, this will be Picton Castle’s seventh world circumnavigation, and her last. We intend to keep the ship sailing long into the future, Captain Moreland will even sometimes be in command, but he has made it clear that this will be his last circumnavigation under sail.

World Voyage 7 was scheduled to begin at our home base in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada in March/April this year. Trainees would have joined us in mid March for training and orientation, and to help rig up and prepare the ship, setting sail from Lunenburg by mid April. The three tall ship port visits that make up the Tall Ships Challenge are also scheduled for April, in Galveston, Texas; Pensacola, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana all in the USA.

All of our previous world voyages have started and ended in Lunenburg. It took us a little while to wrap our heads around starting World Voyage 7 in a port other than Lunenburg, but that’s exactly what we’ve decided to do. We’re going to squeeze in the Tall Ships Challenge before we begin World Voyage 7.

Although this requires some itinerary changes, there are plenty of good reasons to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge this April. Primarily is that Picton Castle has never sailed the Gulf of Mexico before or visited these southern US ports, so it’s a chance for us to take the ship somewhere new and different. And it gives us availability for short voyage legs of just a week or two, allowing people who don’t have 3+ months to sail to join the ship for a taste of the trainee experience.

And, by lucky coincidence, we’ll be beginning the World Voyage in New Orleans at the same time as the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Although the crew will be busy with the ship, they may have the occasional evening off duty to take in some of the incredible music found throughout the city.

If you live in or near Galveston, Pensacola or New Orleans, we’d love to have you visit the ship. As part of the tall ships festivals we’ll be participating in, we’ll be opening our decks for public tours. Please come and see us!

And for those of you who live in cold climates and want a break from winter, or for those of you who want to sail for just a short period of time, why not join us as a trainee? No sailing experience is necessary to be a trainee crew member. There is an application process where we ascertain that you’re in good health and that you would be good shipmate. Trainees are an integral part of the crew and participate fully in sailing the ship.

As we speak, we’re getting Picton Castle ready to set sail from Lunenburg, under the command of Captain Sam Sikkema, bound for Bermuda where we’ll get the ship looking her best for her public appearances in the Gulf of Mexico.

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