Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Lunenburg' Category

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Captain’s Log – Early September in Lunenburg

12 September, 2016

Early September in Lunenburg

On the morning of the last day of August, Picton Castle sailed quietly in to Lunenburg Harbour.  As Captain Sam Sikkema explained in the last Captain’s Log, royal yards, the mainsail, t’gallants and all upper staysails had all been sent down before the ship made her entrance, so although there was less canvas to set, the ship came in under what sail she had and looked good doing it.    20160831_092107_resized

The crew wasted no time once alongside the wharf in Lunenburg.  We knew that many crew members had to sign off the ship very shortly after their arrival in Lunenburg, so we wanted to get sails sent down right away while we still had many hands.  It’s possible to send down sails with a smaller gang, but the sails were good and dry so we wanted to take advantage of the conditions and get it all done in a few hours.

Picton Castle’s sails are made of cotton canvas.  This means that when they get wet, and particularly when they’re stowed wet, they start to mildew which causes them to rot.  In order to prevent this, we have to dry the sails.  When the sails are bent on and we have a big crew, it’s easy.  We just go aloft, loose the sails from the gaskets that secure them to the yards, shake them out and let them hang in their gear, then the sun and wind do their work to dry the canvas.  At the end of the day, we stow the dry sails again.  When the ship will be in port for an extended stay and we have a small crew, rather than constantly drying sails we simply send them down and stow them away in a dry storage place.  It’s one less thing for the crew to look after, and allows us to turn our attention to other projects aboard.  It has the added benefit of allowing us to do proper inspections and inventory of our sail collection, making note of the condition of each sail and any repairs that may be required.

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By mid afternoon, all sails were stowed away properly below decks.  We had a ceremony aboard where everyone officially signed off, receiving their sea service certificates.  Particularly for the cadets who sailed with us this summer from the Nova Scotia Community College’s Nautical Institute, these certificates are valuable.  To earn certifications as a mariner, classroom work is important but documented hands-on practice aboard ships is also essential.  These cadets will return to class this September with a significant portion of their required sea time earned.

Over the next few days, crew packed their sea bags and dispersed by car, plane and train, on to their next adventures.  We have a small crew still aboard, working away at various projects including preparations for the Bosun School which begins next week.  We’re looking forward to welcoming a number of young aspiring mariners who are coming to spend three months in Lunenburg in a land-based skills development program.  They’ll do a combination of classroom learning and hands-on practice (with heavy emphasis on hands-on practice), covering a wide variety of seamanship topics.  We’ll bring you more updates on Bosun School and what the students are doing throughout the next three months while they’re here studying in Lunenburg.

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Picton Castle Itinerary Update

For those of you who keep up with our website regularly, you’ll notice a change to our voyaging plans for 2016-2017.

Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is worth changing plans for. This is the case this time. This summer, we’ll be involved in a special project that will see Picton Castle make two back-to-back transatlantic crossings. We can’t say too much about this project yet, except that it involves a re-enactment, but we hope you’ll trust us when we say we’re excited to be a part of it and we’re working with some great people on it.

We are actively seeking crew for this voyage, which begins April 18 and runs until July 31. Voyage crew should have some related seagoing experience. With so much time at sea, it’s a great way to gain some ocean-going sea time. While English is the working language of Picton Castle, on this voyage, the ability to also speak French is an asset. And there’s a very attractive reduced price for this voyage only. If you’re interested, please fill in the online application form.

We’re also looking for professional crew on deck and in the engine room for this April – July voyage. All professional crew must have, at a minimum, STCW Basic Safety Training, plus additional experience and qualifications as required for each position. On this voyage, the ability to speak both English and French is an asset, as is being Canadian. Professional crew applicants are welcome to apply by sending your resume/CV and a cover letter by email to info@picton-castle.com.

A ship’s doctor is also needed for this voyage. Training and/or experience in remote or wilderness medicine is an asset, is as the ability to speak both English and French. If you’re interested, please send an email to info@picton-castle.com.

Once Picton Castle returns to Lunenburg at the end of July this year, we’ll begin a session of the Bosun School, running from August until December 2016. The Bosun School is a land-based skills development program for mariners who already have some seagoing experience. The Bosun School will help you to gain hands-on experience in rigging, carpentry, sailmaking, small boat handling and general ship’s maintenance and upkeep. Lunenburg is the ideal spot for the Bosun School, with an active small boat sailing community and a variety of marine-related industries. To apply, please send your resume/CV and a cover letter to info@picton-castle.com. Exact dates and costs will be announced soon.

By January 2017, Picton Castle will be in Bermuda, ready for a new voyage. The Bermuda & The Real West Indies voyage will begin on January 4, 2017 in beautiful Bermuda. After a couple of weeks of preparation, training and orientation in port, the ship and crew will set sail heading south to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. The first leg of this voyage includes visits to many of our favourite islands in the Windward and Leeward Isles. With steady tradewinds blowing, the sailing between and amongst islands is sure to be spectacular. The second leg of the voyage will see Picton Castle make a loop around the coastline of the Caribbean Sea, visiting Bonaire, Colombia, Panama and Cuba before sailing to the Bahamas and back to Bermuda at the end of May 2017. No sailing experience is necessary to join this voyage (those with experience are equally welcome).

That puts us in the perfect place to meet up with an international fleet of majestic tall ships on the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. We’ll sail in company, sometimes racing, from Bermuda to Boston to Quebec City, with a few other Canadian ports along the way. Quebec City will be the highlight of the Rendezvous because the event is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. Along with the organizers of the Regatta, we’re still working out some of the details of the itinerary for this voyage. We expect to be able to offer short voyage legs, about two or three weeks each, but dates and ports have not yet been confirmed. Please continue to keep an eye on the website for details. No experience is needed to sign aboard for this voyage. In the meantime, if you’re interested in joining us on the voyage and would like us to send you the itinerary when it’s ready, please send us an email at info@picton-castle.com.

We’re quite excited about our voyaging plans for the next year and a half. If any of our upcoming voyages pique your interest, drop us a line!

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The Former HMS PICTON CASTLE Remembers on Remembrance Day

Our lovely barque rigged sailing ship, now at sea approaching the Azores with a great gang of young mariners sailing on a voyage across the free Atlantic was once know as HMS Picton Castle. Just before open hostilities commenced in the second World War in 1939 our ship was conscripted into the British Royal Navy and fitted out as an Armed Mine-Sweeper Trawler and Convoy Escort. Throughout the war she swept for mines, was strafed by fighter planes, blown clear of the water by a mine and was deployed as part of the task force that effected the first land assault on Hitler’s Europe in the Raid on St Nazaire.

This commando raid took out the largest drydock in western Europe capable of docking Germany’s largest battle ships. The raid was a success but a great cost and a followed by a dictate issued by Hitler that all future ‘commandos’ would be simply shot if captured and were not to be treated as POWs.

The Picton Castle, like her sister trawlers were about the most prosaic naval vessels one could imagine, yet they did their work steadily and on and on clearing mines and escorting convoys in the Western Approaches of the English Channel and North Sea. Many times German fighters and bomber flying low while returning to bases in Germany, Holland and France would attempt to use up their extra bombs and bullets on these tough little warships, really just fish boats. These little vessels were a proud and motley lot, manned mostly by fishermen with a RNR skipper and a couple navy crew to look after the 3” gun on the bow and the depth charges. Well protected armoured navy ships they were not. We have read that the loss rate of HM Trawlers was second only to the astonishing loss rate of German U-Boats. Winter and summer, fair weather or foul, these little ships would head to sea and do their business.

In May of 1945 the war ended. But not for PICTON CASTLE. There were mines everywhere which had no notion that the war was over. They needed to be swept and removed. Mines still pop up in these old battled waters from time to time. The ‘CASTLE’ swept for mines until December 1945 when she was mustered out of the Royal Navy and returned to Consolidated Fishing, her owners, re-rigged for trawling and went back to fishing.

On this day we think of those brave souls who went to sea on the great waters in these little ships to do their bit. We think of their families ashore in vulnerable ports who suffered along with these seafarers, many of whom never returned home. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of WWII lasting the entire duration of that almost 6 year war. We dedicate our wreath at today’s Remembrance Day memorial in Lunenburg to all who sailed in the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy and put to sea in this conflict on the Atlantic and may it never happen again.

Capt. D. Moreland, November 2015

HMS Picton Castle

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Helping Dominica Recover After Tropical Storm Erika

One of our favourite islands, Dominica, was hit hard by Tropical Storm Erika at the end of August. We’re planning to visit there this coming winter as part of our Transatlantic Voyage and, with your help, want to do something to assist.

Why is Dominica so special to us, you ask? Well, Picton Castle made an extended visit to Dominica in the winter of 2007, while filming Mark Burnett’s reality TV series “Pirate Master”. During the three months we spent sailing up and down the coast in the lee of the island, we became familiar with many of the coastal communities and the capital city, Roseau. Captain Moreland jokes about now being able to write the Dominica cruising guide, given the amount of time and travel we’ve done there.

Our crew became fast friends with many of the people from the island who were working on the production with us, as well as other Dominicans. We’ve enjoyed the beauty of the island – soaking in hot springs, hiking to the boiling lake, swimming in the many rivers and under waterfalls, snorkeling, watching sea turtles lay their eggs, and relaxing on the many beaches. Dominica is truly a hidden gem.

Because we’re so fond of this island, we want to assist in whatever small way we can with the recovery effort, which will be a long one.

We already have a very generous donation of school textbooks for grades 10-12 thanks to Park View Education Centre in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. We would like to bring school supplies and elementary school textbooks with us as well. We have lots of space in our cargo hold to bring donations, which we’ll unload and distribute to various schools on the island when we arrive in early 2016. If you’re able to assist with a donation of books or pens, pencils, paper, rulers, pencil crayons, calculators, rolls of newsprint, backpacks, or any other school supplies, please let us know. You can email us at trudi@picton-castle.com or call our office at +1 902 634 9984 to donate or find out more information.

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Pre-departure Task List

By Kate “Bob” Addison

As our Picton Castle is about to set off on another epic voyage, this time bound for and throughout the amazing South Pacific in the trade winds, we thought our readers might be interested to read about some of the detail of our preparations. Sailing to the South Seas might seem like a romantic thing to do and so it is, but there’s a whole heap of work, orientation and training in a sailing ship to be done before we cast off the first line. A lot of this work isn’t very romantic at all… it’s just work.

Senior staff meet on at least a daily basis just before a voyage. The Captain and his officers, together with our fabulous shore-based staff, meet to check on progress, make sure nothing is falling through the cracks, and make plans to deal with anything that could delay our departure or impact the conduct of voyage. As well as the reviews we have a long check-off list to get through, Captain Moreland just gave me his copy to help write this, and it’s ten pages long.

Broadly the things that must be done break down into regulatory requirements imposed by various authorities, and our own internal requirements that the Captain, officers and shore staff have built up over many years of successfully planning and carrying out long voyages.

Picton Castle is registered in, certified and inspected by the Cook Islands, where we will put in many times on this next South Pacific voyage, and naturally we are required to comply with the inspection, maintenance and certification requirements of our maritime authority, as well as all applicable international marine laws. These are very similar to US or Canadian requirements, in case you were wondering. One part of the flag state requirement is that the ship is fully surveyed every year. The survey covers everything from the ship’s hull and machinery to her radio transmission equipment, firefighting systems, ship security systems, all safety equipment such as life rafts and other emergency gear. The list goes on… and on.

There are other ongoing requirements from the Cook Islands Maritime Authorities too, such as our minimum safe manning certificate that specifies the minimum number of professional crew and what minimum qualifications they must hold, and the load line certificate that establishes a certain standard of care and arrangements for the vessel. There are international health certificates, and of course personal travel and medical documents for everyone on board, even for the ship’s cat! Life at sea was certainly more randomly hazardous before much this legislation, especially in the 19th century when sailors were at the mercy of the ship’s owners who may or may not have had scruples about sending an over-stuffed ship out to sea in the hope of making a little extra margin on the cargo. Just one reason that a modern day voyage aboard the Picton Castle might well have seemed like paradise to your average ordinary seaman in the great age of sail.

Part of the ship’s inspection includes being hauled out of the water every two years. This we did in the spring right here at Lunenburg Slipways. While out of the water she has her bottom freshwater blasted clean so it can also be inspected visually, and then repainted with fresh anti-fouling paint. At this time there is also a thorough inspection of all through-hull fittings, prop shaft and propeller, rudder and rudder bearings and zinc anodes, which are all overhauled or replaced as necessary, as well as whatever else the surveyor and prudent seamanship requires. The massive anchors and fathoms of chain are run out so they can be inspected too, and oiled to help maintain them. It’s pretty cool watching her come out of the water – she really does have lovely lines. And she seems ever so big.

Once she’s back in the water, a thorough testing of every system and piece of gear commences. Everything from testing and changing the batteries in all of the fire alarms to making sure we have all of the charts and publications we might need for the places we’re planning to go, and the ports we could possibly run to if the weather should have different plans. We check all of our communications and navigation gear; our two satellite phone and email systems, VHF radios and emergency beacons and radios. The anchors and windlass are tested, as is the steering gear which, along with the freeing ports, gets a good dose of grease to keep it nice and free.

The Engineer has lots to do making sure generators, main engine, water maker and tanks, battery bank, bilge manifold, freezers, pumps, and black and grey water systems, running lights and electricity are all online and working sweetly. He also has to make sure we have spares of everything, all inventoried and stowed away for when we need them, and lastly that the fuel and water tanks are topped up before we go.

The Cook comes next, he has the important job of making sure we have enough provisions to keep a hungry crew fed and happy, and the stoves, galley and provisions are his responsibility. The medical officer, in this case our Doctor, makes an inventory of the drugs and medical supplies we have onboard and orders anything additional we may need. He also has copies of everyone’s medical information and prescriptions. Copies of all of these are kept in the office in Lunenburg, along with emergency contact details for all aboard, and copies of all of the personal and ship’s documents that are onboard. We also orient those with any medical and first aid training to act as his assistants, should that be needed.

Meanwhile the deck officers and crew are plenty busy too. Most of us think sending up rigging, yards and sails is a fun job, working aloft, and it’s certainly a great learning experience for the new crew! Our ship’s boats are overhauled, exercised plenty, then stowed aboard; standing rigging surveyed and repairs made as required. Everything is tarred or painted or slushed, depending on whether or not it’s supposed to move. There are supplies to order and stow aboard for the deck department too – from copper fastenings to miles of manila rope, paint, tar, and timber. We have lots of timber aboard, including a couple of big logs that will be turned into spars on the voyage. A spare compass and spare suits of sails too as well as much canvas and thread to make new sails when we get to the tropics. School books and supplies kindly donated are wrapped in plastic, labelled and stowed. These will be distributed to island schools on our path. Any cargo or supplies for the islands is safely stowed away too.

There is the safety equipment; an astonishing amount and quality of kit, that must be all inspected and carefully stowed for easy access if we ever need it. All hands train and get used to the safety gear. We have enough life rafts for everyone on board on each side of the vessel, so double the capacity of the ship in total. They each have hydrostatic releases and supplies of food, water and flares inside, which must all be kept within their expiration date. We have containers of extra food, flares and water to grab if we need them. There are fire extinguishers and alarms in every compartment as well as three fixed fire fighting systems in the high risk areas – again the dates are all checked regularly at sea, and as part of our pre-departure check-list. We have breathing apparatus and firefighting outfits, which we sincerely hope we never have to use except in a drill. We have man overboard rescue gear that’s always kept in the rescue boat, a stand-alone fire pump that can pump water out of the ship or onto a fire depending on the situation. There’s emergency steering gear and a manual bilge pump too. Then there are flares, EPIRB, SARTs, emergency flashlights, waterproof radios and satellite phones, hailer, intercom, foghorn, climbing harnesses, personal floatation devices and cold-water immersion suits for everybody on board. Everything is taken out, checked, overhauled, batteries replaced and re-stowed before every voyage. And all this must be familiar to the crew and trainees. Then there is drilling, drilling, drilling in all our emergency procedures as well as in bracing the yards, setting, taking and furling sail, small boat training and so on.

But the most important thing for our safety is the skill and judgement of our crew. And ‘judgement’ as it were, has yet to be ‘regulated’ or put in a book. Kit stored in a locker doesn’t often save lives. So we drill for all of the emergencies that we can think of (fire, flood, abandon ship, man overboard, damage control, launching and recovering boats underway, heavy weather), spending time talking through other people’s roles as well as each person’s own station according to the station bills posted throughout the ship. We are working to build a general awareness in the crew of what action we might take in any given situation, what kit we have on board and how to use it. Our everyday life aboard is focused on safety too: working aloft, moving heavy loads, handling paint and other chemicals – the whole time we are working to build a crew who are aware of their surroundings and able to keep themselves, their shipmates and their ship out of unnecessary danger. So we start with a general and then a more detailed orientation so every crew member knows where every piece of safety kit is stored and how to use it. Then we have safety aloft training, and a review of the standing orders of the ship as well as the crew handbook, which itself includes all of the safety policies and procedures. And then detailed instruction and supervision of every task until people are deemed competent to carry them out unsupervised. It is important to bear in mind that emergency duties only come into their own if there is an emergency, better not to have a fire than have to put one out.

Everything’s documented too, from our Safety Management Plan to the safety policies and operating procedures. So these documents are reviewed and refreshed before the start of every voyage. And they are reviewed and refreshed during a voyage too.

Weeks before we’re ready to sail, the Captain and mates start following the weather religiously, checking different sources on the internet (the US Navy has some great ones) to try to get the best possible information so they can make a passage plan that makes the most of the weather we’re likely to get. This plan always has contingencies and options built in because weather forecasting is inherently uncertain, and gets less certain the further ahead you look. Once at sea we get regular updates from something called GRIB files. If the weather looks too nasty then we wait on a departure until it’s favourable. We have a schedule like everyone else, but the weather is one thing that you can’t control, so if we’re late we’re late. Once deep sea, you do the best you can taking best advantage of the weather and the up to date forecasts we get.

So, this is what we have been up to the last few weeks.

Then comes the day where the forecasts are promising, and finally, thoroughly drilled, stowed and inspected, we clear out through customs and immigration, muster all hands, do a final headcount to check we have everyone on board (and no stowaways!) and we’re ready to cast off our lines and set sail for our next adventure.

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Weather

By Kate “Bob” Addison

As always before a departure bound deep sea of any kind, the Captain and Mates study the weather very closely for many days before we plan to sail.

Last week Captain Moreland made the decision that the Picton Castle would not set sail as planned on the 21st, but stay in Lunenburg because of the weather. He says that he did not make that decision because he knew that the nascent low pressure system in the Caribbean was going to turn into a hurricane; but precisely because nobody knew what it was going to turn into or how big or strong. It was the uncertaintity which kept us fast alongside. At that time there was not yet a hurricane, just some ominously bright colours on the long range forecasts. And crucially the forecasts, which are based on a handful of different computer models, were very divergent in their predictions. The forecasts were all over the place. This is a sign that they were not yet reliable – if the models all say the same thing, there’s a reasonable chance that they are right, even looking quite a few days ahead; if they differ, not so much. And so we stayed in port for a couple of days to see how the system would develop and where it was headed.

What developed of course was Hurricane Sandy, which has been moving slowly north rather than heading out into the Atlantic as we had hoped it might. By Tuesday/Wednesday it was clear that we were looking a very big and broad weather system, and not one you could expect to dodge around. This was going to take up much of the western North Atlantic. The Captain figured that this was going to take a week or more to clear up, so here we sit in Lunenburg. We have never waited before so long for a single weather system.

The interaction with the big high pressure system in the North Atlantic and the jet stream have been complex, and causing the unusual track that has been so heavily reported. Our crew are generally interested in weather, and there have been plenty of weather charts on laptops and phones being discussed by the off-watch in the cafes and eateries of Lunenburg. Classified as a category one hurricane, Sandy is not the strongest storm we’ve ever seen, but it is huge – and moving very slowly. These two factors combine to create the big seas and the severe damage we’ve been seeing in the news. Sustained strong winds over a large area cause damage on land and whip up the seas far more than a faster-moving system would, and this is part of the reason that Sandy is causing such chaos.

Meanwhile the duty watches have been busy preparing the ship for the tail end of Sandy, which is predicted to hit Nova Scotia later today. If a big swell comes into the harbour the ship will surge, which can quickly casue damage to her dock lines, so we’ve rigged extra lines for security and wrapped them all tightly with stout canvas, rubber tubing and old rope to help guard against chafe damage. The crew went aloft first thing this morning to check the gaskets that hold each sail tightly in its stow, and to double them all up with extra gaskets we keep just for this purpose. A sustained strong wind can rip a sail out of its stow, making it much harder to deal with as it flaps around damaging itself and anything in its path. We don’t want to send crew aloft to deal with that when the wind is up, so we get extra gaskets on early while it’s easy to do so. Everything else on board has been snugged down and made fast too; the halyards for all of the lifting yards have been lashed to the shrouds so that they don’t bang about, and everything loose on deck lashed down or taken below.

An now we’re as snug and ready as we can be, the crew are cheerful and they have done a brilliant job getting us ready. And so as the sky turns grey and the wind starts to pick up, we hurry up and wait.

All secure aloft
Extra lines ashore and double gaskets on all sails
Murray adds chafe gear to a dock line
Weather talk at muster yesterday when it was still sunny

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Departure Delayed

Picton Castle’s departure from Lunenburg has been delayed again, so we’ll no longer be setting sail on Monday at 2pm. There’s a potential weather system brewing in the southern part of the North Atlantic that we’re watching closely. Departure from Lunenburg will be delayed at least one day. As soon as we have more information on an updated departure day and time, we’ll post it here.

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South Pacific Voyage Departure

****UPDATE**** Due to weather, Picton Castle’s departure has been delayed until Monday at 2:00pm.

Picton Castle has been abuzz with activity for the past three weeks with orientation, training and preparation for the South Pacific Voyage. New trainee crew members joined us October 1st and have been getting to know each other, working together, learning the ways of the ship and starting to build a solid foundation of seamanship skills.

We’ll tell you more about the activities of the past three weeks in the coming days, but for now we want to let you know that Picton Castle is scheduled to set sail from Lunenburg this Sunday, October 21st, at 2:00pm, bound for the island of Carriacou in the country of Grenada in the West Indies. All are welcome at our wharf at 174 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada on Sunday to wave and wish the crew fair winds for this voyage to the South Pacific.

Departure, as always, is subject to the weather. Any updates will be posted here, so please check in before you head for the waterfront on Sunday. For the most up to date news and photos, including almost daily posts on how the crew have been keeping busy for the past few weeks, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Bosun School and the Martha Seabury

Late summer is probably the best time of year in Lunenburg. We’ve been blessed with outstanding weather, sunny, warm and pleasant. Hurricane Leslie, which we had been watching closely, kindly avoided Lunenburg. Convenient for the Bosun School, because it makes the wharf, the boatyard at the Dory Shop and any number of other outdoor spaces our classrooms, where students can get hands-on practice with real vessels.

And practice they have. Shortly after Picton Castle‘s return to Lunenburg at the beginning of August, the crew and students assisted with the launch of the Martha Seabury, one of two twin schooners 48′ in length, built side by side at the Dory Shop. The Bosun School has been involved in rigging her up since she floated.

Much of that work has taken place aboard the vessel herself – splicing wire and rope, serving, and seizing; high-quality paint and varnish finishes; stepping masts; making sensible arrangements for stowing things; small carpentry jobs; and more.

The sail loft at the Dory Shop has also been abuzz with activity as the tanbark duradon sails for this gaff-rigged schooner come together. They were laid out and seamed by machine during our introductory Bosun School in Bristol, Rhode Island, and have been worked on continuously since then, with all of the finishing work done by hand.

The Martha Seabury set out on her maiden voyage last week, bound for the Newport International Boat Show with Michael Moreland at the helm. Now that she’s sailing, the Bosun School is turning some attention to other projects and spending as much time as possible out on the water in small boats.

On evenings and weekends, the crew and students have been enjoying life on land – cycling, running, shopping, sightseeing, and spending some time at the Grand Banker, the Ice House, and the Knot, some of our favourite places in Lunenburg to have a cool drink.

getting Martha Seabury s rigging in place
Laerke, Maria and Hege work on the Martha Seabury sails
Maria bends on the jib on the Martha Seabury
Proud sailmakers Lola, Laerke, Maria, Hege and Drea

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Home in Lunenburg

By Kate “Bob” Addison

August 8, 2012

And so our 2012 summer voyage has come to an end. We’ve sailed to Bermuda and back and explored the East Coast of the USA and Canada as far south as Savannah, Georgia and all the way back up to Halifax. We’ve had city adventures in New York and chilled out in some tiny villages and gorgeous bays. We’ve been a part of festivals and tall ship races, participated in parades of sail and crew parades, pancake breakfasts and crew suppers. We’ve been to parties and dances and blessings of the fleet, watched fireworks, live music, stilt-walkers, and open air movies. We’ve welcomed thousands of visitors on board and made friends across the fleet. If nothing else, this summer was certainly memorable.

An Oscar moment is coming now, so hankies at the ready. Apart from my mum and dad and God I need to thank everyone who made this summer not just possible but a great success. So here goes: thank you to the people behind each of the festivals: Savannah, Greeport, Norfolk, Newport, Halifax, Port Hawkesbury and Pugwash, and the wonderful gang at Tall Ships America for making the whole thing happen, races and festivals and all. Enormous thanks to our brilliant liaison officers in each port who did a thousand small things to make everything run smoothly, and to our fabulous army of former shipmates, parents, friends of the ship and strangers: for every laundry run, provisioning trip, use of a vehicle, edible gift, free admission to a museum and every other kindness. To the harbourmasters and dockmasters, security guards, pilots, push boat drivers and line handlers, thank you for looking after our ship and our crew. To the girl called Laura and the pet rescue centre in Savannah, thank you for introducing us to George, and George to a life as ship’s cat. Thank you to the photographers and press for capturing the spirit of the events, and helping to spread the word. Thank you to every single member of the public who came out to see the ships and in doing so helped support sail training and some of the most beautiful ships in North America and beyond. To the captains and crews of the other ships in the fleet, it was a privilege and a joy to sail with you this summer; I hope our tracks cross again before too long. And finally, to Captain Moreland, Captain Bercaw, the crew of the Picton Castle and our fabulous shore crew Maggie and Susan: thank you so much for your incredible hard work, dedication, skill and good spirit this summer. You guys are some of the best people I’ve ever met, and collectively the reason that the Picton Castle is such a great ship. Ok, I’m all done so hankies away and finish your champagne. Sorry if I missed anyone.

Our last day was spent at anchor in Rose Bay, buzzing about getting the ship all pretty for her homecoming. That evening was one of the nicest of the voyage: a peaceful sunny evening anchored in flat calm in a beautiful spot. People were tired and happy after a productive day’s work. Donald cooked steak for supper and we opened the Starboard Side Swimming Pool so people could splash about, dive off the bow or lounge about in towels on the cargo hatch. We rigged up the swing-rope on the fore course yard, and practiced back flips and belly flops swinging off the rope.

The next morning the fog had settled back in, but we hoisted our anchor and nosed our way into Lunenburg Harbour. There were plenty of people standing on the dock to welcome us home as we emerged like a ghost ship from the fog, quietly backed into our berth and threw the first line ashore. In no time we were safely tied up and with “Mr Mate, that will do the watches” the voyage was finished.

The crew have already started going their separate ways, some staying for Bosun School, and all the projects and fun of Lunenburg in the summer. Another gang has flown out to Istanbul to help rig up Fullriggeren Sorlandet, another exciting project with heaps to do and heaps to learn. Others are heading home to see family and friends, some heading back to school, or to join other ships.

Here in Lunenburg yesterday we helped to launch the beautiful schooner Martha Seabury from the Dory Shop where she’s been being built over the last couple of years. Hundreds of people came out to watch and the press was well represented too. There were speeches from Captain Moreland, dignitaries and her proud new owner Billy Campbell. She was christened Martha Seabury by Maggie breaking a rum bottle on her stem, and her decks were decorated with some of the better looking Picton Castle crew, Danish mostly, before being launched as the crowd cheered. She was floated off her cradle with help of a tow boat and some muscle from Picton Castle, Amistad and the Dory Shop heaving away with block and tackle. It was a truly wonderful day for all involved, and for the Martha Seabury just the start of many wonderful adventures to come. And then, in October the ship’s company will reconvene. New trainee crew will sign on, and old crew will return to begin the exciting preparations for the start of the next voyage. We’ll send up sails, provision and bunker, load cargo for the islands and get the ship all stowed and ready for sea. Get the crew trained, drilled and ready for sea too. And then one fine day this autumn, we’ll take in the gangway, cast off our dock lines and set sail again. But this time for the magical islands of the South Pacific.

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