Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Lunenburg' Category

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Day’s Run – February 24, 2018

We had our wind shift overnight as expected and early this morning got the ship turned to the South with a fresh West wind. The crew did a good job in the early morning hours getting sail back on to speed us along in our passage and steady out the ship’s motion. Though the sun isn’t out today it’s a lot warmer than it has been, no longer icy water crossing the deck but a much more pleasant 15°C. The swell height being up with the fresh west winds, the crew have been spending most of the watches checking that the ship has remained sea-stowed and that no gear has become adrift. This sort of weather doesn’t deter ship’s cook Donald a bit, steak for dinner last night and plenty of hot food at every meal.
We anticipate crossing into the Gulf Stream this afternoon, which will bring even warmer temperatures, a welcome change for all hands. Until then we are still just getting into the ship’s routines and remembering what it’s like to be at sea again. Nothing around, no land, no other ships just Picton Castle and her crew in our own little world.

Date: 24 February 2018
Noon Position: 38°39.8’N, 068°25.3’W
Course + Speed: SxW, 7.8kts
Wind direction + Force: W, F 5
Swell Height + Direction: 3m, W
Weather: Overcast
Day’s Run: 156nm
Passage Log: 428nm
Distance to Port: 420nm
Voyage: 611nm

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Day’s Run – February 23, 2018

Another clear and cold morning dawned on the Eastern edge of the George’s Bank as Picton Castle makes her way to the southwest. Cold as it was this morning the day has warmed to about 8°C and the sun feels good as we are motorsailing along under topsails and the foresail. Many of the crew are up and about the rig on this beautiful day, moving buntline blocks into their proper position and finishing up some odds and ends in the rig to prepare for bending more sail in the near future. Also of importance on a day like today is to continue getting the ship cleaned up and the ‘land’ washed off of her after a winter’s lay-up. We are expecting the wind of veer to the west overnight and this will turn us back to the southeast to line up for crossing the Gulf Stream and on to Bermuda.

Date: 23 February 2018
Noon Position: 40°52.1’N, 066°44.9’W
Course + Speed: SWxS, 8.4kts
Wind direction + Force: NE, F 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1.5m, NNE
Weather: Clear and Sunny
Day’s Run: 198nm
Passage Log: 241nm
Distance to Port: 518nm
Voyage: 424nm


Sunrise on George’s Bank

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Day’s Run – February 22, 2018

Picton Castle hove up anchor from Rose Bay this morning just before sunrise. Having left our berth in Lunenburg yesterday afternoon with all systems go, we are on our way to Bermuda. The crew spent the last few days bending on more sail to speed our passage along and enjoyed some unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s cold out now but all onboard are looking forward to the Gulf Stream and the warm water it brings with it. For now there is a fair wind stretching the topsails, the B&W Alpha main engine is rhythmically thumping away and we are leaving the coast behind. Farewell to Nova Scotia!

Date: 22 February 2018
Noon Position: 43°41.6’N, 064°31.4’W
Course + Speed: SWxS 1/2S, 7.5kts
Wind direction + Force: NNW, F 2
Swell Height + Direction: 2m, SW
Weather: Clear and Sunny
Day’s Run: 40nm
Log: 40nm
Distance to Port: 677nm
Voyage: 223nm


Sunrise in Rose Bay

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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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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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Getting Ready for Sea

GETTING READY FOR SEA
By: Captain D. Moreland

A pretty deep, snowy and proper winter here in Lunenburg these days. The PICTON CASTLE is snugly moored to her wharf; 1,500 pound anchor and 300 feet of big anchor chain out in the harbour holding her against SE gales and storms to which this harbour is exposed, many big lines on to the dock. She has not budged an inch nor parted a hawser in even the strongest gales. And we had a whopper of a hurricane force storm recently. We had a long, long summery autumn and then it seemed like it skipped autumn altogether and went straight to full tilt winter. Well, we are halfway between the equator and the north pole here in Nova Scotia…no palm trees ringing the bay here.

Lunenburg is certainly a year-round port and we are getting ready to head off to sea soon. A few days south from here a ship will have crossed the Gulf Stream and the crew will find themselves peeling off the sweaters and quilted gear and pulling on shorts and t-shirts. It is a pretty astonishing transformation. Of course, a mariner has to be pretty mindful of getting a decent weather window to sail from here safely but that is true any time of year. Our plan is to sail from Lunenburg here in February and make our way to St Georges Bermuda and get our anchor down there. This time of year, Bermuda is quite a bit better place to get some painting done on the ship and any number of other things to make her look nice over a couple week period. The gang is keen on this too.

Now we are getting the PICTON CASTLE ready for sea again. Of course, when she sailed in to Lunenburg last fall she was ready for sea, wasn’t she? Logic dictates as much. So, what would we be doing? We are attending to a range of items on our list to both care for the ship and get ready for sea. Right now we have the faithful 24’ monomoy long boat hauled up at the Dory Shop for an overhaul. This venerable and able craft is getting well scraped, sanded, primed and painted as well as some minor carpentry here and there, a new rub-rail and stern sheets (a seat in the stern). This work is difficult to do aboard when sailing as we use the boat so much. But now is a good chance what with the good wood stove going and plenty hands hard at it.

What else? Down in the nice warm engine room we are looking after a few things. Floor plates are getting re-bolted down, water maker gauges being replaced, starting air bottles getting fine tuned, engine mounts for our single cylinder SABB getting replaced, a nice cleaning job done in the engine-room as well as adjacent ER supply room getting nicely stowed and cleaned up. Galley supply inventories as well as medical kit inventories are getting done. We have welders coming in to look after a few small projects on deck. Lots of buying is in order: paint, rope, food, lumber, canvas, all sorts of stuff for both the next few months as well as an entire world voyage ahead to consider. Now, we can get much that we need along the way – we are sailing AROUND the world, not away from the world – but some things are pretty hard to find and we need to have with us when we sail. And we need to make sure all our navigation gear, communications gear, safety gear is all in good order. We need to revue all charts and publications. All auxiliary equipment like welders, emergency pumps, emergency satellite comms, damage control supplies need to be aboard and in good order.

So, while it is cold outside and plenty snow, things are heating up on the good ol’ Barque PICTON CASTLE.

 

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Winter Weather Woes

12 January, 2017

It is an incredibly mild day here in Lunenburg today. It’s actually  +12°c/54°f which is incredibly warm for us on a mid-January day in Nova Scotia. The harbour is almost perfectly calm; this morning as I was walking down Bluenose Drive is was a sheet of glass. Just perfect. You would never guess this is the same place that was mid-storm only one week ago.

We had an outrageous winter storm in Nova Scotia last week – as did much of the Eastern Provinces of Canada, and Eastern States of the USA.  Truth be told, we fared far, far better than many other places. Even other places within Nova Scotia. This was partially due to good luck; partially to good management.

Late on Wednesday afternoon the Captain and Liam went down to the ship and, along with the few crew who remained on the ship over the Christmas holidays, they doubled up on the hawsers and lashed various rigging and things on the ship and the wharf. There were ropes everywhere: the storm was going to be a bad one, we had plenty of warnings about it. Winds up to 140k/hr. That’s massive. They were predicting snow, freezing rain, rain and a huge storm surge. We were worried.

When things started getting bad, Captain Moreland had the crew come set up sleeping bags at his house in his living room, and taking turns they made hourly treks down to the ship to check on things. It was a long, cold, windy, wet & powerless night.  The rum seasoning barge that sits out in Lunenburg Harbour, ageing Ironworks’ next batch of extremely good rum, lost its anchors and ended up on the rocky beach next to Picton Castle. There are so many vastly worse places it could have ended up, but it wedged itself onto our beach and stayed there throughout the storm.

The storm raged all Thursday and through Thursday night, but when all was said and done, and the sun came up on Friday, we fared pretty well. There is an old trawler tied up opposite Picton Castle called Primo. The easterly winds pushed against Primo throughout the storm – pushing her away from the wharf in a way wharves are not used to. The winds were strong; so were the hawsers we set up. Something had to give way, and eventually, it was actually the wood of the wharf that gave way. The ship and hawsers were all fine; the wharf needs a bit of t.l.c.

The next few days we had temperatures of -12°c/10°f with a windchill of minus too cold to even think about. Everything iced up and we were in a deep chill. From unusually cold all the way up to unusually warm for this time of year. Something is going on with Mother Nature.

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Bosun School – The Wrap Up

Our 8th Bosun School has come to a close, and we had a lovely graduation ceremony at Lunenburg’s historic
Dory Shop on Friday 18 December.

Closing ceremonies are an important part of the Bosun School. Each of the participants works so hard –
it isn’t easy, this school of ours. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get through it, and that is
one of the reasons we only offer it to individuals who already have some amount of sea experience under
their belt; people who already know they want to work at sea.  So much hard work deserves
acknowledgement, and the closing ceremony is designed to provide that.

In the final weeks of the school, Captain Moreland met individually with each of the participants to talk
about what they see in their future. He was able to provide them with advice, suggestions, and
recommendations, sometimes helping them with their plan and sometimes pointing them in another
direction. Some of the graduates are planning going on to take additional courses from other institutions;
some are going on to work on otherships; all were offered the opportunity to crew the ship as Picton Castle
heads to Bermuda in February.  Almost all accepted the offer. Because as important as it is to have the   the time to dedicate to learning these skills on land, there is no better place to practice these new skills
than at sea. Captain Sikkema is heading south with a very capable crew indeed!

The graduation at the Dory Shop was a great night. It started with some music by Bosun School students
Cici, Anders & Lars, along with a few drinks and snacks, then a sit-down meal of hot fish chowder prepared
by Niko, who was the Bosun School cook.  After the meal there were a few speeches made by Lunenburg’s
Mayor Rachel Bailey, by Captain Moreland, and by the two class valedictorians: Ann Featherstone and Caleb
Winberry. No speech was too long; no speech was too short. Each student received a certificate and letter
from the Bosun School outlining what they have studied in the past three months.  They also each received
a certificate from the Province of Nova Scotia congratulating them on their completion of Bosun School –
our MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft wasn’t able to attend in person so her office arranged for the certificates
instead. The whole night was the ultimate mix of perfect. When the certificates were all presented, the tables
were cleared away and the Dory Shop’s Mike Gray had his band perform until the wee hours.

One of the many fun parts of working here in the Picton Castle office is being able to watch futures unfold before our trainees and Bosun School graduates when they leave us; I’m looking forward to seeing where this incredible group of individuals end up!

Bosun School 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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