Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Lunenburg' Category

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Festive Weekend in Lunenburg

Lunenburg was alive with festive spirit this weekend and the Bosun School students took part in the celebrations.

On Friday evening, people gathered on the waterfront to see the lighting of the vessels. Vessels at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and Adams & Knickle usually participate, along with Bluenose II, and this year we we have lights on Picton Castle as well. All of the vessels were lit up, as well as a Christmas tree made of lobster traps and a number of decorated Christmas trees (including one we decorated). The vessel lighting was followed by fireworks over the harbour. Local businesses and individuals contributed to fund the fireworks, including a donation from the Picton Castle Bosun School.

The highlight of Saturday was the Santa Claus Parade. The Bosun School students prepared the float and rode in it during the parade. Our float featured the brightly coloured dory Sea Never Dry, built at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg and part of Picton Castle‘s fleet of small boats and sailed all over the world. There were about 50 floats in the parade, which shows the great community spirit here.

For the Bosun School it’s back to classes and workshops this week, finishing some varnish practice and getting a lesson on making ratlines.


Shala decorates the Christmas tree on the waterfront


Bosun School/Picton Castle/Dory Shop float in the Santa Claus Parade

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Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the fun things about sailing with an international crew is celebrating holidays from different countries.  It’s the same in Bosun School, with students of a number of different nationalities.  We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back in October, and are celebrating American Thanksgiving today.

Niko is busy cooking up a big delicious dinner and we’ve put the usual projects aside for the day in order to focus on festive projects.  This upcoming weekend kicks off the holiday season in Lunenburg and we’re participating fully.  Today we are rigging up Christmas lights on Picton Castle’s masts, decorating a tree at the Fisheries Museum, and decorating our float for the Santa Claus parade.

On Friday evening, the vessels on Lunenburg’s waterfront will be lit up for the season.  The museum’s fleet along with the fishing fleet at Adams & Knickle usually participate, and we’ll be joining in the illumination as well.  The vessel lighting event begins at 6pm outdoors at the Fisheries Museum with warm foods and drinks from local restaurants, along with music and caroling.  At 6:30pm the vessels will be lit, along with the decorated trees at the museum, and at 7:30pm there will be fireworks over the harbour.

On Saturday, there are a number of markets and events happening throughout the town.  At 3pm it’s time for the Santa Claus parade.  Apparently there will be over 50 floats in the parade, including ours.  Keep an eye out for our brightly painted dory, Sea Never Dry!  We’ll take photos and post them for anyone who can’t join us in person.

So, the Bosun School is celebrating Thanksgiving by temporarily becoming a North Pole workshop, followed by a wonderful meal together.  We have a lot to be thankful for here.

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Why Train Under Sail?

From the mid 19th century until the mid 20th century, sailing ships were the incubator and hatchery for almost all deep-sea steam-ship mariners be they naval or merchant marine. This is what came to be known as “trained in sail” or later, “sail training”. This training service came about due to the extraordinarily rich seamanship acquisition environment that was the deep water sailing ship. In the rapid-fire extreme requirements encountered during WWII for instant mates, lieutenants, commanders and captains, “90 day wonders” they were called, this chain was broken on national scales – but though this chain of traditional training has been worn thin, the skills of a sailing ship seafarer remain critical to the safe and cost effective running and management of modern motor vessels. A well run sailing ship is, now more than ever, the best place to prepare for and begin one’s career at sea.

Sailing to sea in ships is an amazing way of life and can be richly rewarding in countless ways. Not the least of these ways is that mariners can make a good living from ships and the sea. Often well in excess of what they could make ashore. Additionally, every job taken by a citizen going to sea leaves a job open in their country of origin. And successful mariners tend to contribute directly to their home economies and do so disproportionately to the cost and length of time of their educations. There is a great international demand for the next generation of seafarers.

But make no mistake, the sea is an extremely demanding environment not particularly forgiving to the inept, untrained or ill equipped. Good seafarers have to be excellent at a broad range of critical skills. It takes years at sea, working hard, learning at every turn, before one can call oneself a seasoned pro. Recently among flag state marine regulatory agencies there has been a welcome insistence on having a basic and advanced safety and marine emergency training for professional mariners resulting in the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) mandated STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers) Basic Safety Training (BST) and certification. Training in firefighting, PFDs, first aid, immersion suits, life rafts etc. This is all to the good and is to be applauded. It is important basic familiarisation with what a mariner is to be able to do when things go all wrong aboard a ship at sea. This training and these skills, however, are quite a bit different from the broad seamanship skills and training a mariner needs to be both useful aboard a ship and to also seriously contribute to the reduction of the likelihood of things going all wrong. BST is established to have a basic standard of what to do when things go wrong. Broad and deep seamanship skills are what contributes mightily to preventing things from going wrong in the first place. BST is how to bandage a cut. Seamanship is not getting the cut. This is where the Picton Castle and the Bosun School come in.

In addition to adventurous sailing and traveling to amazing islands and ports all over the world, the voyages of the Cook Islands Barque Picton Castle are about learning, teaching and passing along the required skills of seafaring. And by direct extension, the essential skills required of any resourceful mariner sailing in todays cargo ships, passenger ships, tugboats, supply boats, fishing vessels, yachts, the Navy and marine related shore positions. These include marinas, maritime schools, museums, sail lofts, rigging lofts, boat yards, ship yards, dry docks and sundry others.

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Traveling to Join Picton Castle’s World Voyage

Picton Castle’s World Voyage itinerary is full of exotic place names, including some you may never have heard of before. We specialize in visiting exotic tropical ports, taking our ship and crew to some unique, remote places. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to make travel arrangements to join the ship for a leg of the voyage. We design the itinerary so that leg changeovers take place in ports with easy airport access and good flight connections.

Trainee crew members who sign on to sail on the world voyage and make the full voyage will join the ship and depart the ship in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. Those who sail for a leg of the voyage (or more than one leg) will join Picton Castle in one port and depart in another. Wonder where you would sign on and off each leg?

Leg 1 – join in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, sign off in Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
March 18, 2018 to August 1, 2018

Leg 2 – join in Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, sign off in Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
August 2, 2018 to October 29, 2018

Leg 3 – join in Benoa, Bali, Indonesia, sign off in Cape Town, South Africa
October 30, 2018 to January 28, 2019

Leg 4 – join in Cape Town, South Africa, sign off in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
January 29, 2019 to May 18, 2019

How do you get to these places?

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lunenburg is located on Nova Scotia’s South Shore on the Atlantic coast of Canada, about an hour and a half drive from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Halifax Stanfield has multiple flights daily direct from most major North American cities as well as many major European cities. To get from the airport to the ship, there are a few local shuttle services including Kiwi Kaboodle and Cloud Nine Shuttle. Picton Castle docks on Lunenburg’s waterfront, on Bluenose Drive.

Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The Cook Islands is a country in the South Pacific made up of 15 islands spread out over almost two million square kilometres of ocean. Rarotonga is the largest and most populated island in the Cooks, while still small, safe and friendly, and is the one island with an international airport. Flights go daily to New Zealand with a few different airlines and weekly to Los Angeles with Air New Zealand. To get from the airport to the ship, you can get a taxi at the airport. If you prefer to book a shuttle in advance, you could check out Raro Tours or Tiare Transport. Picton Castle docks in the harbour at Avatiu.

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

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The island of Bali’s major industry is tourism, so they’re all set up for visitors. The Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport has daily flights to a number of destinations, some within Indonesia and some to other Asian countries or to Australia or New Zealand. Getting from the airport to the ship is easy because there are so many taxis in Bali – just be sure to negotiate the price before you hop in. Picton Castle usually anchors in Benoa Harbour in Bali. We use our small boat to make runs between ship and shore every few hours, usually picking up from the Bali Marina (we will confirm this with anyone sailing on this leg closer to the ship’s arrival).

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the biggest city we sail to on the World Voyage, located in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The Cape Town International Airport is located just outside the city and has daily flights to major centres in Africa, Europe and Asia. On previous visits, our ship’s agent in Cape Town has made arrangements to pick up incoming trainee crew members, but if that’s not the case on this upcoming visit, taxis are readily available at the airport. Picton Castle docks at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

Exact details on where to find Picton Castle in each of these ports will be communicated to trainees closer to the ship’s arrival, as well as any updates or additional tips on traveling from the airport to the ship. While arranging flights and ground transportation is the responsibility of each trainee individually, our shore crew are happy to help provide details and advice based on first-hand experience in all of these ports.

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Second Layout of a Mizzen Staysail

On Monday, the Bosun School students went to the Lunenburg Community Centre to use the gym floor to lay out a sail. Actually, this is the second layout for this sail – it had its first layout back in 2015 when Picton Castle was in Cape Town, South Africa.

As Picton Castle sails to various ports around the world, we often look for suitable places to lay out sails. The area must be flat and open, big enough to stretch out the full sail. We’ve used gyms and lofts, but we’ve also used cement and wooden docks, grassy fields, parking lots, and pretty much anywhere else that has big open space.

We’re not the only ones who have used the Lunenburg Community Centre for laying out sails. Michele Stevens Sailloft has used this space when they were working on sails for the schooner Bluenose II and for the schooner Columbia. In fact, the mainsails for these vessels are too big to fit in gym so they could only lay out half at a time.

In comparison, our mizzen staysail looked quite small, taking up less than a quarter of the gym floor. By the time it’s ready for the second layout, the canvas cloths have already been seamed together. The purpose of a second layout is to sketch out the sail’s shape and cut off any excess fabric. Measurements are carefully made before the cutting begins, using both knives and scissors.

Once the trimming of the sail is complete, the second layout is done. Next up is putting on the corner patches, then putting the tabling around the edges of the sail, then making and sewing in all of the grommets.


Anders, Tyler and Annie trim the edges of the sail

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Bosun School Launches and Rows A Dory

One of the main things we focus on at Bosun School is small boat handling. Students will practice handling boats of all kinds by rowing them, sailing them and driving them with motors. It’s one of the essential skills of a good mariner, being able to handle small boats. The best way to become proficient is to practice. A lot.

This past week, students at Picton Castle‘s Bosun School prepared and launched a Banks dory named Rocky. The boat was built at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia’s historic Dory Shop, which is celebrating 100 years in business in 2017. The students gave it a paint job and launched it from the beach at the Dory Shop.

Captain Moreland demonstrated how to row a dory. Students then had the chance to practice, followed by a more in-depth lesson.

Here are video clips of the launch and of Captain Moreland’s rowing demonstration.

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Captain’s Log – May 9 2017

Anchored in the beautiful old fishing port of Lunenburg Harbour, Nova Scotia, the Picton Castle crew woke up at 0715 to a cold drizzle and overcast day but spirits were high as we knew we were preparing to get underway and head to sea. We had left our dock and gone to anchor two days ago but high seas had kept us in port, 12 to 16 feet swells were the reports just off the coast and even the lobster boats were staying in the harbour. Kind of rough for starting out. The weather had finally turned more favourable with seas laying down and it was time to head south to Charleston, South Carolina. We had been stowing, lashing and drilling for days. Several crew members have sailed aboard the Picton Castle before, but for others, this is their first time at sea. Assistant Engineer Liz has been working and living aboard the ship for almost nine months now and nothing could beat her smile as we heaved up the anchor and headed for warmer weather!

At 1100 the crew was set to haul up the 1,500 lb port anchor. For some vessels, this is done with the press of a button but on our ship, it is the press of sweat and strong backs using a big iron 100A1 “Norwegian Steam” hand powered anchor windlass. The Picton Castle is steeped in tradition including the fact that “many hands make light work”. With 4-5 people on each side of the windlass, sailors “see-saw” on big iron bars until the anchor breaks off the bottom then comes to the surface of the water and can be stowed. Each up and down motion lifts one link of our very large chain, so with two and a half shots or 230 feet of very heavy chain lifting a very heavy anchor, I’m sure you can imagine the strength required. Often chants break out to help keep momentum but our spirits don’t need for much as a secured anchor means we are heading back out to sea. But as one wiseguy said, “can you imagine how hard it would be without the windlass?”

Today the seas are a bit sloppy after the large seas of yesterday, making for cautious footing but we are starting to get into the ebb and flow of the ship. Soon it will be second nature. Getting used to the new and unfamiliar movement, especially in choppy weather can sometimes take a bit. During our aloft training we learn the importance of three points of contact between yourself and the ship. This also rings true when navigating the decks while she rides over the 4 to 8 foot swells!

To some, this may sound like a lot of work and you are right. But when you stand at the bow of the ship, looking back at the tight-knit unit we’ve become in such a short span of time, every time we have scrubbed the deck or stood at the helm, we are reminded that we are a part of something much greater than just ourselves. We are sailors in a great sailing ship.

 

 

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New Mizzen Topmast

Most of the crew have now arrived aboard Picton Castle in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada for the Rendezvous 2017 voyage. It’s always an exciting time when a voyage begins. There is a flurry of activity around the ship as people move aboard and get settled, ship’s work picks up speed as the number of hands increases. Training and orientation is a big part of what’s going on as well, learning the ship and how everything works.

One of the projects we’ve been working on is replacing the mizzen topmast. Each of Picton Castle’s three masts have multiple parts, they’re not each just one solid piece. The mizzen mast, the mast farthest aft (closest to the back of the ship), is made up of two parts. The lower part is made of steel and the upper part, which is called the topmast, is made of wood.

Picton Castle carries a number of spare timbers so that we have materials to use if we ever need to replace any of the spars. We’ve been carrying a telephone pole from Saint Maarten in the Caribbean for a while now. We’re saving it from a life of mediocrity, just staying in one place and holding up wires. Instead, this long straight timber has been crafted into a new mizzen topmast by local all-around-boat-guy Mike Gray and the crew put it into place yesterday, high above the steel lower mast, where it will support sails and rigging while Picton Castle sails the world.

 

 

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10 January, 2017

Lunenburg photographer Peter Zwicker (http://www.bacalaophoto.ca/) captured this amazing photograph this morning of Picton Castle surrounded by snow, ice and sea smoke. Thanks, Peter, for letting us share it!

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Bosun School Graduation

After three months of studying and hands-on practice in Lunenburg, the Bosun School students officially graduated last night.

Picton Castle’s Bosun School is designed for young mariners who want to gain skills to add to their resumes and advance their careers.  We have found, in receiving applications from some professional mariners to work aboard Picton Castle, that despite having significant sea time their skill levels are below what we might expect.  By taking time to focus on developing these skills in an environment ashore without the natural distractions of sailing the ship, students can see a project through from start to finish and learn the entire process.

Not only do they observe and learn through lecture and demonstrations, they learn primarily through hands-on practice.  Using the example of wire splicing, Captain Moreland did a brief introductory lecture, then a demonstration.  From there, students made two or three splices of their own, under the supervision of Bosun Gabe.  After that, the Captain did a second, more in-depth lesson on wire splicing that they were able to absorb more easily because they had some context of doing the work themselves.  Since then, they’ve done many more splices, some on practice wires and some in actual practical applications where their splices will be used aboard Picton Castle.

This session of the Bosun School had a major focus on rigging.  Bosun School students sent yards down back in September when the school began and they worked on overhauling them through October and November, taking off all the standing rigging and blocks, inspecting and repairing or replacing portions as necessary, and overhauling the yards themselves.  Some of Picton Castle’s yards are steel (the course yards, lower topsail yards and upper topsail yards) so students learned how to deal with rust, removing it and putting coatings on to prevent rust and seal the steel.  Some of Picton Castle’s yards are wooden (the t’gallant yards and royal yards) so students have done some work with wood preparation and varnishing (on a few other projects like deck boxes as well).

Sailmaking has been one of the other main areas of study at this Bosun School.  Students have learned a variety of repair methods depending on what’s called for in each situation.  Some repairs need to be quick and not-so-pretty, others need to be meticulously well done when there is time and space to do it.  Students also worked on sail construction projects, laying out a new outer jib, seaming it together, then adding the tabling, corner patches, grommets, roping and all other finishing.  By being part of constructing a sail from start to finish, they have a greater understanding of all of the components of a sail, how they work together and how and why to look after them.

This past week, as we have been wrapping up a number of projects, students have been meeting individually with Captain Moreland for career counselling sessions.  They’ve been talking about short-term plans as well as longer term plans.  At the graduation ceremony last night, each student received a certificate of completion that outlines the skills they’ve practised that they’ll be able to use when they apply for jobs in the future.

Join us in sending congratulations to all of the Bosun School students on successful completion of the course!img_2338

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