Captain's Log

Archive for the 'La Grande Traversee' Category

| More

Day’s Run – 8 July, 2016

Winds continued to be light and baffling throughout the night. At one point a breeze sprang up from the north east, prompting us to wear ship, but it died away again to calm shortly thereafter.

It wasn’t until about 6am that a south-easterly came on, and as the seas had come down enough for us to carry sail without beating it to death we put the ship under full sail and ran out the Studding Sail booms on the port tack and ran up the sails. This may very well be the last time of the passage that we will be able to set the Studding Sails. With the constant march of low pressure systems off of the continent we are going to have stronger winds and, when we don’t, they are just as likely to be head winds. But for at least one last chance it is nice to be able to see the ship ‘spread her wings’ as it were one more time.

Bending Main Royal at sea (earlier voyage)

Bending Main Royal at sea (earlier voyage)

While our Royal yards were down we did a thorough inspection on them and serviced their gear. Upon close inspection of the Main Royal yard some deterioration was found that lead us to condemn it. We carry timbers along with us for just such an eventuality and by early afternoon we had the blank sized off for the Royals unlashed and getting marked up for a new spar. These blank timers that we carry started out with us last fall, when we went traipsing out into the woods in Nova Scotia to find suitable trees for spare T’gallant and Royal yards. Having identified them, we had them cut down, sent to the mill to be squared off to eliminate the sapwood and then carefully stowed onboard.

With one Royal yard still strong and ready to go we got ready to cross it on the main mast and soon had it secure aloft ready for sail to be bent, which was also completed that afternoon.

In the late afternoon the wind increased to Force 5 and veered Southwest, so in came many of the kites and we hauled the ship up on the wind for the night making as much as we could toward the west in expectation of West and Northwest winds in the coming days.

SHIP’S WORK: Shift Main Upper Topsail ‘E’ for ‘DK-16’; cross Main Royal Yard and bend Royal ‘F’; caulking on quarterdeck; continue work on new MONOMOY main boom; begin work on new Fore Royal yard; replace STBD Inner Jib sheet; Sailmaker repair Spanker ‘C’ and the Lower Studding Sail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +2

NOON POSITION: 37°08’N / 053°29’W

DAYS RUN: 56nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3501nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1002nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W, 4kts

WIND: SE, Force 4

WEATHER: Overcast with occasional sun, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 25°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  N’rly, 2 – 4ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

| More

Day’s Run – 7 July, 2016

And after the gale comes the calm. The wind and seas abated enough in the early morning hours and we got the ship underway under Topsails, Courses and Staysails. As the sun started to come up the wind went lighter still and we set all sail to try and move us along through the leftover seas.

Another big day for the Sailmakers with the completion of a new Upper Topsail soon to be bent on.

On toward the evening hours the wind decreased  even further and we took in most of the fore & aft sail and clewed up the Courses to prevent chafe and wait for the wind to fill in.

SHIP’S WORK: Overhaul Royal lifts and footropes; dry Royals ‘A’&’B’ and Course ‘C’ on Galley house; various mousing and slushing aloft; carpenters finish up all quarterdeck repairs; bottom paint on Semi-Dory; Sailmakers finish new Upper Topsail; stow heavy weather gear.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +2

NOON POSITION: 37°23’N / 052°52’W

DAYS RUN: 48nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3445nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1035nm

COURSE AND SPEED: SSW, 2.5 kts

WIND: W, Force 3

WEATHER: Sunny with high clouds, air temp: 24°C, water temp: 23°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: W’rly, 3 – 6ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding sails

| More

Day’s Run – 6 July, 2016

As predicted, the wind began to build in the early morning hours. At around 4am the Barometer started to fall and we started to get in sail. By 8am the wind was up to Force 6 from the Southwest and we called all hands to get the ship hove to under Lower Topsails and Staysails, all other sails being taken in and securely furled. As the Barometer continued to fall throughout the morning, we got all of our safety gear rigged, extra tarps and ratchet straps on and around the hatch, grab lines on each side of all the decks to hold on and clip into if necessary, and nets mid ship and in the breezeways.

Ropes set for a gale

Ropes set for a gale

All of this preparation came in good time as by noon the wind was up to Force 8, a whole gale. With the ship secure and snug down, the watches kept busy making sure nothing was breaking loose and fixing up lashings here and there as needed. The ship rode well throughout the afternoon and in the late afternoon as the wind veered to the Northwest we called all hands again and wore ship to set us up for the moderate NW forecasted to come in behind this system.

While the wind began to abate in the evening the seas were still quite high, prompting us to wait until things cooled down a bit more before getting underway. The crew stayed snug on the quarterdeck and in the failing light we caught a glimpse of a fully laden tanker ploughing headlong into the big seas making about 4kts. Not so bad, we thought, to be here on a sailing ship calmly hove to and waiting. It’s a good lesson for us as well: we have to work with the elements for we cannot work against them.

SHIP’S WORK: Rig safety gear; double gasket upper sails; double grip boats; stow and lash on deck and below.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +2

NOON POSITION: 37°39’N / 052°52’W

DAYS RUN: 69nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3397nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1019nm

COURSE AND SPEED: Hove to

WIND: SW, Force 8

WEATHER: Overcast with squalls, air temp: 20°C, water temp: 24°C SWELL HIGHT & DIRECTION:  SW’rly, 10 – 14ft SAILS SET: Lower Topsails, Fore & Main Topmast Staysails

| More

Day’s Run – 5 July, 2016

After yesterday’s variable and squally conditions today turned quite the opposite, the wind came up in the morning and the engine was secured. All sail was set to dry and the ship began to move along slowly on a sunny day.

A good portion of the afternoon was dedicated to getting the ship stowed for heavy weather: a fast moving low pressure centre is headed out from Atlantic Canada and will pass to the north of us tomorrow. While we expect to be well away from the worst of it, it is always best practice to have the ship prepared well in advance and for heavier weather than you expect. All of the preparations and reading of safety gear is very familiar to the crew members that did the eastbound crossing with us.

It was also decided this afternoon to send down the Royal yards. While not necessary to have them down for the weather, it will be less windage and it is always good drill for the crew to be able to get the yards up and down at sea, something very few ships do at all any more. PICTON CASTLE usually sends at least one yard up or down at sea during a voyage. The yards came down during the afternoon watch. A good job was done by the Mates and crew involved and they came down in smart fashion.

SHIP’S WORK: Re-stow for sea; spot painting; Continue work on the new Upper Topsail and send down Royal yards.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +2

NOON POSITION: 37°40’N / 051°41’W

DAYS RUN: 131nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3328nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1077nm

COURSE AND SPEED: SW, 3kts

WIND: NNW, Force 3

WEATHER: Sun w/ cirrus, cumulus and stratus clouds, air temp: 22°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  NE’rly, 1 – 3ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Fore Royal

| More

Day’s Run – 4 July, 2016

While the wind was steady through the night allowing us to make some good progress it has been anything but steady today. Mid-morning it built to a SW Force 6 again prompting us to get in T’gallants, but soon after backed west to Force 5 and then some time after noon went away all together. When the wind dies out in these conditions we work quickly to take in all sail: with the seas still up from the earlier winds there is nothing to steady the ship and the sails can destroy themselves slating back and forth in the rig.

The calm didn’t last long though. In another hour the wind filled in again from the west and we made sail. Not to much longer though and we had it out of the west at Force 7, prompting yet another round of getting sail in and snugly stowed then hove to under Fore and Main Topmast Staysails.

This short gale of wind didn’t last long either though and as the light began to fade the wind did too, all the way to nothing. As there is a low pressure system forecast to come into this area in the middle of the week we fired up the big B&W Alpha and made some tracks to the west for the night.

SHIP’S WORK: Shift Foresail unbend ‘C’ and bend ‘E’; Re-stow lower hold; more caulking on the quarterdeck; sailmakers finish roping leeches on the new Upper Topsail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +2

NOON POSITION: 37°38’N / 049°16’W

DAYS RUN: 99nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3197nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1192nm

COURSE AND SPEED: N, 4.1kts

WIND: W x N, Force 5

WEATHER: Rain and Squalls, air temp: 22°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  SW’rly, 4 – 7ft

SAILS SET: Topsails, Courses, Main T’gallant, Inner & Outer Jibs, Fore & Main Topmast Staysails, Spanker

| More

Day’s Run – 3 July, 2016

We were expecting more wind and we got it, overnight the wind began to build and we began to shorten sail. By morning the ship was down to Topsails and Course sailing on the wind in a Force 6 breeze.

In the late afternoon the wind moderated just enough to re-set the Main T’gallant but otherwise the crew tended to the ship’s needs and tried their best to enjoy a little bit of a Sunday at sea.

SHIP’S WORK: Sunday at Sea!

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 36°15’N / 048°12’W

DAYS RUN: 108nm

PASSAGE LOG: 3098nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1288nm

COURSE AND SPEED: NW, 5kts

WIND: SW x W, Force 6

WEATHER: Overcast, air temp: 23°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  SW’rly, 4 – 6ft

SAILS SET: Topsails, Courses, Inner Jib, Fore & Main Topmast Staysails and Spanker

| More

Day’s Run – 2 July, 2016

While the breeze has remained light it is starting to show signs of filling in again and we are expecting more to come in the next few days.

As we move back to the western side of the ocean we can expect the winds to become more variable in direction and much stronger. As a result we have begun switching back to the stronger suit of canvass that we had sent down after leaving La Rochelle, about 3,000nm ago. Today saw both Lower Topsails shifted in good time. The crew, having spent a lot of time in the rig this passage, is getting good at getting things done. A satisfying thing indeed for all onboard. In the coming days as the weather permits we will be shifting out the Courses, Upper Topsails, Spanker and Inner Jib.

The Carpenters are keeping busy replacing bits and pieces of wood about the ship as well as getting busy with some deck caulking. We have also started making a new Main Boom for the ship’s MONOMOY.

monomoy returning to the ship Mangareva 153

Our MONOMOY is a 23′ pulling boat that sits in the port davits while at sea. This boat was once a common type of rescue boat in the US Life Saving Service and our boat was part of that service, being built in the 1940’s and used at a station somewhere on Cape Cod. It was given to the ship by Capt. Bob Douglas of the Schr. SHENANDOAH and despite its age is in remarkably good shape, having now giving us many years of excellent service.

While it is easy to argue that no one really needs to know how to row a boat any more, this boat is a large part of our program. Tt has been thought for a long time, by many mariners, that the awareness and teamwork required to run a pulling boat are at the very foundation of seamanship. We believe this strongly too and make good use of the boat whenever we can in port or at anchor. Our boat also has a sailing rig, allowing us to use her for another very important function – teaching sailing. Odd, one might think, for a sailing ship to need a boat to teach sailing with, but it is true that someone might sail as a hand in a larger ship for many years and never really learn to ‘sail’. So we also take the time to get our crew sailing the boat whenever possible. While the mechanics and the man power may be very different between the ship and the boat the principles and the ‘feel’ are the same. With the quick reactions to wind and sea required to get the boat to make ground it is the perfect opportunity to teach these principles in a way that they can be seen and felt very quickly. (The great secret to all of this is that sailing the boat is actually a lot of fun too).

So here on our long passages we have the opportunity to care for our 70+ year old boat in an effort to get good service out of her for years to come.

SHIP’S WORK: Send down Lower Topsails ‘C’ & ‘F’ and bend Lower Topsails ‘G’ and ‘NZ-13’; wrap up open spot painting and slushing jobs; clean out carpenter’s workshop as well as clean and sharpen tools; re-stow oars and gear in MONOMOY; Sailmakers close in on the new Upper Topsail with rope cover on the head and foot and seizings on the clews.

 

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 35°05’N / 040°46’W

DAYS RUN: 53nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2990nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1392nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W x N, 2.5kts

WIND: S x W, Force 2 – 3

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with cirrus and alto cumulus, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 25°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  SW’rly, 1 – 3ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Studding Sails

| More

Day’s Run – 1 July, 2016

Happy Canada Day! For us has dawned another beautiful day in tropical like conditions. While keeping the ship moving through the night the crew have kept busy and up to snuff with their sail stowing, drilling in getting the Studding Sails in and the Royals stowed in a timely fashion.

We have been lucky enough to see more than a few marine mammals this passage and about midday today a number of spouts were seen along the horizon. As they came closer though, we saw the spout was different than the dolphins, Fin whales and Minke Whales we have been seeing. Soon enough it became obvious that there were an entire pod of Sperm whale headed in our direction, a rare and exciting site.

Sperm whales, after hundreds of years of being the most popularly fished whale, are rare to see and also easily ‘gallied’ or scared away at the approach of a vessel. As we sailed along slowly in silence, on a course meeting with theirs, they appeared not to notice us. Two adults and two calf’s crossed within 20 yards of the bow of the ship. These amazingly large and powerful creatures slowly lumbering along in the afternoon sun was an awe inspiring sight and the crew crowded on the Focs’l head and into the Fore Mast to catch a glimpse.

Swim call on an earlier voyage

Swim call on an earlier voyage

Later in the afternoon, with very calm seas and warm water it was decided by the Captain that there would be no better time than now to have a swim call. With a flurry of activity the ship was hove to Fore Topsail to the mast and all hands called on deck. After the Mate gave a quick lesson on the ‘pool rules’ – how to stay safe, with a few designated life guards standing by – in the crew went. It’s quite a feeling being in the water next to your ship, the nearest land being about 16,000 feet away – straight down. After about 20 min, many hands soaping up for a salt water scrub and a few braving a dive from the Jibboom it was time to go. All hands were again called on deck to be accounted for, then hands to braces and fill away. And  with setting the kites we started along our way again.

And as if we thought the day couldn’t get any better Donald served us his world famous fried chicken for dinner. Our 23rd day at sea was not too bad at all.

SHIP’S WORK: Overhaul Main yard foot ropes; patch serve splices on Main Upper Topsail lifts; Paint on the Focs’l head hand rails and the Semi-Dory Bottom; slushing the rig; continue quarterdeck dutchman; various spot painting; Sailmakers continue on Upper Topsail ‘H’ and the new Upper Topsail ‘DK-16’

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 34°41’N / 045°39’W

DAYS RUN: 69nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2937nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1444nm

COURSE AND SPEED: NW x w, 3kts

WIND: SE, Force 3

WEATHER: Sunny and occasional cumulus, air temp: 26°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  E’rly, 1 – 2ft

SAILS SET: All Sail, except Outer Jib and Fore Topmast Staysail

 

| More

Day’s Run – 30 June, 2016

The wind has been lightening and steadily veering to the Southeast and as such just before noon we wore ship onto the Port tack.

With our Studding Sail gear this takes some time. As we only have one set, we can only set Studding Sails one side at a time. So in come the sails, down come the booms, all the gear is shifted over to port then up with the booms again and then we can set full sail again. The process, with enough hands, takes just about two hours.

Another drill was called this afternoon: this time a fire drill. The crew are doing well with the safety drills and getting good at carrying out their assignments. But it is often said that a perfect drill is of little use, as it leaves no room for improvement. Which is why this afternoon’s drill had a good twist to it: a squall. It is certainly not an unreasonable possibility to have to fight a fire while some other event is happening and this was a good test for the crew. They handled it well though being flexible with the needs of getting sail in and the problems of communication in an absolute downpour. The end result being mostly that all of our gear got a good fresh water rise and with the laundry lines full we again set all sail and put the wind behind us making our way toward Canada

SHIP’S WORK: Shift the Mainsail; quarter deck caulking; Sailmaking repairs continue to Lower Topsail ‘G’ and Upper Topsail ‘H’ and roping continues on the new Upper Topsail

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 34°25’N / 044°21’W

DAYS RUN: 88nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2868nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1683nm

COURSE AND SPEED: W x S, 4kts

WIND: E x S, Force 3

WEATHER: Sun and cumulus clouds, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 24°C SWELL HIGHT & DIRECTION:  E’rly, 1 – 2ft SAILS SET: All Sail, except Fore Topmast Staysail

| More

Day’s Run – 29 June, 2016

Our excellent trade wind sailing continues. The forecast however is for the winds to start getting lighter and we can already feel that today. But it is no matter to us as we have been making good time and will continue to have good weather if not fast sailing.

The Mate and the Bosun are still using the weather to great advantage, with much paint going on the occasional varnish project and many small jobs in the rig that just aren’t possible on higher latitude passages.

As the conditions were good for it this afternoon we held a man overboard drill. This can require a lot of sail handling and quick thinking with so much sail set and to get the boat away safely and quickly at the same time. In this case with the Studding Sails set it is important not to get them aback as they are only supported from the aft side. So while in most drills we turn the ship into the wind on the tack we are already on, in this case we turn away from the wind giving the crew time to get the Studding Sails down while we wear ship. In these moderate conditions we can also leave the spanker set which will help kick the stern around once we have come onto the other tack.  The result of this manoeuvring is that the ship becomes hove to (stopped) on the Port tack with the Fore Yards aback and the Main yards braced up and no gear broken! Then once it is safe, the rescue boat is away to recover the buoy we had thrown overboard. The crew did well and from the time we called the drill, the rescue boat was back alongside with the buoy in 6 minutes flat.

But this is still a good reminder to the crew, seeing what it takes to recover someone in near perfect conditions with all hands standing by. The best solution is prevention, and we as a whole crew must remain vigilant in order to keep everybody safely on board.

After the drill the crew showed that they have been doing well with their sail drill, we wore ship again to get back on course and the Studding Sails flew up into the rig, and off we went to the Northwest.

SHIP’S WORK: Re-seize Upper Topsail backropes; set up Main T’gallant shrouds; Painting on Engineer’s ladder; hatch combing; aloha deck; MONOMY and Semi-Dory; Carpenters begin making new main boom for MONOMY and continue with quarterdeck dutchman; Sailmakers replace suncloth and ropecover on the head of Lower Topsail ‘G’ and begin Roping on new Upper Topsail.

FROM: La Rochelle, France

TOWARDS: Quebec, Canada

TIME ZONE: ZD +1

NOON POSITION: 33°51’N / 042°47’W

DAYS RUN: 117nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2780nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 1770nm

COURSE AND SPEED: NW x W, 5kts

WIND: E, Force 4

WEATHER: Sunny, occasional squall, air temp: 25°C, water temp: 24°C

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION:  E’rly, 1 – 2ft

SAILS SET: All Sail

© 2003–2017 Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company Ltd. | Partners | Site Map | Privacy Policy