Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

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Captain’s Log – Fish On!!

 

Fish On!!!

The best words shouted while at sea! On our sail to Bermuda or on any other passage, we like to drag a few lines in hopes of catching the elusive Mahi Mahi or any great fish we can lure aboard. Personally, my favourite rig is a 10-12′ bungee cord with 150lb test monofilament and the appropriate brightly coloured lure. With two lines out and two fish on we had no less than five Mahi Mahi (Dorado) on the stern. We got our fish in quickly and tossed the lines back out but were unable to lure the others aboard.

We thanked our catch and sent them off to the Ship’s Cook to be prepared for dinner for a very grateful crew.

 

 

Written by Trainee Heather Ritchie

Heather Ritchie

 

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Captain’s Log – World Voyage 7

Back in December, before Christmas, we finalized the itinerary for Picton Castle’s seventh world circumnavigation.  Just because we’ve done this six times before doesn’t mean it’s an easy voyage or one to be taken lightly.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  It’s an epic voyage that is demanding and challenging no matter how much experience we’ve got under our collective belts.
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But oh, what a voyage.  This is the kind of voyage square-rig sailors from the days of commercial sail would dream about.  Mostly in the tropics, not in a particular rush to get from port to port to deliver the cargo, with an amiable crew who are all keen to be part of the experience.

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Now that 2017 is here, the voyage looms large in our minds.  Picton Castle will be sailing this summer, participating in the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, which will build towards the excitement of this next world circumnavigation.

To say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience sounds cliché, yet that may be the most accurate description.  There’s truly nothing else like this voyage.  You participate as an actively involved crew member in getting the ship around the world.  Along the way you have unbelievable experiences in the ports we visit.  You develop relationships with your shipmates that will last a lifetime.  You learn seamanship skills and become a competent deckhand aboard a square-rigged ship.  In the quiet of nights on forward lookout or in the commotion of setting all sail, you learn what you’re capable of doing, how to trust others, and how to earn their trust that you’ll do your part when it’s your turn.

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If 2017 is your year for epic adventure, consider joining us.  You don’t need any sailing experience, just a clean bill of health and the desire to be part of the ship’s working crew.  Highlights of World Voyage 7’s itinerary include Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia including the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotus, Tahiti and the Society Islands, the Cook Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Bali, Rodrigues Island, Reunion Island, South Africa, Namibia, St. Helena, a number of Eastern Caribbean islands, Bermuda and the port where the voyage begins and ends, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada.amanda_helm

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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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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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Coming Down From Drydock

Tuesday June 10th, 2014

After 11 days ‘up on the hard’ the Picton Castle was ready to relaunch from the marine railway at Suva, Fiji. It would have been maybe only seven days but for the four days of torrential tropical rain that put a halt to some projects. But this had been a good dry-docking at a good yard. But that came as no surprise.

What work have we done to our ship?

Well, mostly the usual; high pressure water blasting the bottom for removing growth after two years in the water. Then, of course, spot painting epoxy primer followed a full coat of nasty anti-corrosive and then a full coat of fresh antifouling paint; new zincs that prevent electrolysis to the steel hull underwater. It works just fine too, no evidence of any electrolysis on any part of the ship since last dry-docking. We also removed all the bronze through-hull fittings for inspection and any rehabbing as needed. Some of them needed some lapping and re-seating. Through-hull fittings let water into the ship as cooling water for the main engine and generators, as well as the water maker which converts salt water to fresh and also seawater for the heads.

We also pulled the main engine propeller shaft and propeller. This must be done from time to time to inspect for wear on bearings, seals and the shaft itself. This is quite a big job too. First the rudder must be removed, then the sternpost cut away, that’s right, cut away, that’s the only way. Then of course, the long, 6 inch (150mm) steel shaft must be unbolted from the gearbox deep down in the engine room and it and the 6 foot (almost 2 meter) three bladed controllable pitch propeller all slide out. Well, it doesn’t really slide out; it takes a good deal of effort and chain come-alongs to get it out into the slings of the waiting crane. From there it is trundled over to the machine shop for examination and whatever work might be needed. We found that the bearings were fine but that the seals needed a bit of reworking. This was done after a few days and the shaft went back awaiting adjustments – it needs adjustment as it is not simply a solid steel shaft with a prop on one end, which, once back in, would not need adjustment – but it is a CPP or “controllable pitch propeller” indicating that the individual blades of the propeller move to provide forward and astern pitch and therefore, thrust and has moving parts in the shaft and propeller. It is a very good system installed in this ship in 1965, works just great to this day. But as it all had come apart, it needs readjustment after going back together.

We also attended getting a generator dynamo cleaned and back to perfect and sundry jobs in the engine room. After a thorough shell thickness survey we inserted a couple bits of new steel plate where it was needed. All the work was done under not only our supervision but that of an independent marine surveyor. This is a big help to have a qualified expert to look over my shoulder. It is also a requirement of our annual re-certification process.

While all this important stuff is going on below the waterline, plenty of work going on up on deck too. Crew were working away getting all the standing rigging chain plates chipped and coated with five or more coats of primer before the finish coat, various carpentry jobs here and there on deck. The anchor windlass got completely overhauled and coated and greased up. We renewed the steel part of the taff rail around the quarterdeck too. Lifted the teak capping and replaced almost all the steel it rested on. This had been installed in 1996, but apparently without much bedding compound so it had corroded significantly in the last 18 years. Other new steel installations from the same time that were treated properly are holding up fine.

The original steel from when she was built seems to last forever. The shipyard manager told me that the Picton Castle was one of the strongest ships in the best condition he had “ever seen, regardless of age”. He has seen a lot of steel ships up on his shipyard over the last few decades. I was quite impressed and satisfied with the quality and standard of both the steel work and the engineering work done for us on the grand Picton Castle at Suva Shipyard.

And… a new non-skid deck covering for the scullery and galley to give a better grip when we are at sea. All new and renewed safety gear as required by regulations. Yards all got painted (nice job!). New INMARSAT computer. And soon-to-return cook Donald’s cabin and the galley getting a nice paint job too.

But that’s not all. Going into shipyard is a bit like going into surgery at the hospital. Must be done, is good and needed to be done, but you don’t always come out of the hospital looking your best. We have all sorts of paint blow-over to remove. The engine room needs a big old cleaning, I mean a big one. The decks did not get scrubbed for about two weeks, accumulating any amount of crud, grime and welding detritus pretty much everywhere and anywhere – so the ship is getting a massive cleaning this week after coming off the dock.

On Sunday past, after a couple days alongside the quay at the shipyard next to a couple Chinese fishing boats who looked like they were keen to get up on the lift, we backed away from the wharf and headed out to anchor in the harbor. At long last and once again, fresh air, cool breezes and the quiet of the anchorage after almost two weeks of banging, clanging, mud, blasting, spraying and all kinds of dirt and crud of the ship-yard. But all good to get the shipyard done too.

Picton Castle on the hard

Picton Castle before going up on the slip

neighbours at the shipyard

Flip flops strictly prohibited

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Shipyard in Fiji, Day One

May 22nd, 2014

The day came in calm with light rain, we got the anchor up and, motored the mile to the shipyard through anchored vessels and some cruising yachts and nosed the Picton Castle into a bunch of Oriental Fishing boats, from their rust stains and sea-slime well above their waterline they’re clearly waiting their turn for the dry dock. The vessels that were in our spot were still up, one a beautiful old and now short rigged 90 foot wooden schooner and a smaller fishing vessel now looking pretty snappy in her new white topsides and bottom paint. They started down while we watched, but didn’t seem like were going to get up today to me. They still had to haul the flat up again and re-block for this ship. All of a sudden the noise began and all were aflutter that up we would go. When? Right now! To make a long story short, after much pulling and tugging, lines this way and that, boats zipping about taking lines here and there, divers bobbing in the water or sending bubbles as they attended their craft unseen below, we missed the tide an had to head back to our berth with the other old fish boats. Tomorrow would be another day to try.

The next day. Day 2. At 1430, with an increased amount of frenzied activity, jostling and pulling, the gang got the Picton Castle centered over the lift dock – from there, and three hours later the ship was making her way out of the water to be, as they say, “on the hard” – and so we are.

*Photos by apprentice watch officer Anne-Laure Barberis

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Fiji Days

May 20th, 2014

Captain John Beebe-Center and his salty crew sailed the Picton Castle into Suva Harbour from Tonga a couple weeks ago, set her big starboard anchor, furled and then sent down all her sail. Then after some celebrations most crew from our amazing voyages throughout the South Pacific then packed their sea-bags to head home or set off on new adventures. The voyage was done. That will do the watches.

With a small crew we have been at anchor here in this big bay working on the ship and also getting ready for dry-docking. As do most ships, we dry-dock every two years. Both regulation and good practice follow this cycle. Dry-docking consists of hauling the ship out of the water, in this case on a marine railway, pressure cleaning the hull from all weeds and barnacles that have made a home on her in recent months in warm tropical waters, and doing various inspections of the hull, the anti- electrolysis zincs, through-hull fittings, the rudder, the propeller and then carry out any maintenance or repairs required. Also the hull will get painted with both anti-corrosive paint and then antifouling paint to prevent or reduce the growth on the hull over the next two years. The zincs will be replaced, tolerances on the propeller shaft and the rudder bearings will be checked and the big bronze through-hull fittings thoroughly inspected. If anything is found wanting in them they will be removed and taken to the machine shop for overhaul. We haul tomorrow, is the plan.

For the last few days at anchor we have been under a long extended front which has been drenching us in torrential tropical rain all day and all night. Today is all nice and clear though and we can proceed with other projects slated for this period. We are replacing the steel bed under the nice teak taff rail that passes around the quarterdeck. We want a few new planks in the quarterdeck too and we have a good gang working on that as well. We are looking after some rustbusting that is unpleasant to do at sea as it is so noisy, but nice to get done. And we have various rigging and sailmaking jobs we want to get after too. Time to wire brush and slush the wire stays, paint the yards, tar the rigging, overhaul blocks, clean and paint living compartments – much easier to do with no one living in them, no? And we renew or reinspect much of our safety gear under the supervision of our Marine Authorities. And plenty else besides. All is calm at anchor. The calm before the storm. This stands to change character wildly as we haul out in our hot tropical shipyard in bustling downtown Suva tomorrow. The harbour pilot is scheduled for 0830. The carpenters said they will come early and help with the anchor. Should be a long day.

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In Fiji

May 12th, 2014

The Picton Castle swings at anchor placidly here in the northern end of Suva Harbour. The ship sailed in from Tonga ten days ago, and so ends an amazing voyage through much of the South Pacific Ocean and putting in at many storied islands. Tales to be told by this crew for years to come. My relief for a few months, Captain John Beebe-Center and Chief Mate Dirk Lorenzen left the ship clean and in excellent order. In the early mornings, mists cover the lower regions of the distant mountains making for a beautiful and serene tableau, the waters of the bay are still with many white, 100 foot long-liner oriental fishing vessels at anchor in rafts of five or ten on moorings nearby as well. Pretty big ships come and go from the main piers from time to time. On the VHF radio we hear occasional chatter in what we believe to be Korean or Chinese. Around about dawn we see the occasional dugout canoe with a lone fisherman quietly paddling.

Our skiff landing takes place at the Royal Suva Yacht Club just at the north side of the city of Suva. This yacht club has transitioned from formidable gated bastion of imperial supremacy of the English ruling class and Empire from colonial days to a delightful, open and entertaining gathering spot for yachties, visiting vessels, and locals of all sorts and ages; very much a fun and active nautical community centre evidently open to one and all. A lovely grassy area by the water with a fine playground for little kids behind a fence. We expect to be doing some serious sailmaking at the yacht club soon.

A walk into town reveals that Suva is still that bustling, loud, crowded Indian/Fijian metropolis full of tropical noises and smells, all of which are welcome. Plenty Bollywood movies are on the cinema’s marquee downtown and well attended, soon we will see one or two. They really are quite fun and entertaining. After our last couple of visits and “Dabangg”, I am a fan now of Bollywood flicks. A couple ones that look pretty good with a some of the most stunningly gorgeous and handsome leading men and women. Just now between long voyages and now headed into shipyard mode we have about six crew aboard. Sails are sent down, bunk areas have been cleaned up and work lists organized. Soon carpenters will be clambering aboard to start replacing some quarterdeck planks and a few other things. The crew have been scraping and painting the yards with the sails off. Soon they will be slushing all the wire stays. New trainees show up by July 1st, we sail July 15th.

Anyway, we are doing pretty well, content enough to be back in the ship after the short work-packed, period ashore, but here we are and all is as it should be. Looking forward to getting on with the ships work for the next month and a half and to report in regularly on events as they transpire…

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Aloha Polynesia!

Announcing the new and improved Aloha Polynesia voyage! We are thrilled to have been offered the exciting opportunity to carry cargo and people amongst the islands of the Cook Islands. While making passages and visiting islands, we’ll be offering the same top-notch sail training program for which we’re known. Experience the real South Pacific in the unspoiled beauty of the Cook Islands, true Polynesian hospitality, and deep-water sailing passages. No experience is necessary to become a trainee crew member, just a strong back and a willing heart.

Join us as a trainee crew member this June, July and August. Visit the Aloha Polynesia voyage page for all the details and to apply!

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Holiday Greetings From Lunenburg

Our beloved little barque is snugly tied to the wharf, there’s fresh snow on the ground and work has stopped for a few days while we take time to relax, enjoy the company of those around us and celebrate the holidays.

We can’t help but think of Christmases past, many of which, including last year, have been spent at sea. The roll of the ocean, white canvas sails overhead pushing us ever forward, the little divi-divi tree strapped securely to the cargo hatch, delicious aromas wafting from the galley all day and all night, shipmates covertly working on secret projects, holiday decor pulled from the dark recesses of storage areas and hung festively from any available surface and never-ending Christmas music floating from the well deck. Those Christmases, spent in the company of shipmates, where the thought counts more than the gift and the best present is a giant meal with more food than the whole crew can eat, have a very special place in our hearts and memories.

To all of our shipmates and friends, we wish you warmest Christmas greetings and continued adventures in 2012.

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