Friday, August 12th, 2011
Here at the Picton Castle we are all very excited to be offering this next deep sea voyage of the Picton Castle to Europe and Africa and the Spanish Main. In 2008 we sailed the ship back to Europe were she had come from and sailed so much for so many years. That voyage was seen as something of a ‘homecoming’ voyage for the ship in so many ways and we were not sure that we would undertake another such trip – but that voyage all over western Europe, to Africa and through the eastern Caribbean was so amazing, powerful and rewarding for the crew that we figured we simply would have to do a voyage like that one again. And we are with some expansions.
This 2012 Voyage of the Atlantic and Spanish Main in the Barque Picton Castle will be one year long, 15,000 miles of deep sea voyaging under square sail, two transatlantic passages, learning the way of a deep sea windjammer and becoming real crew in her, coastal passages in and around Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, Norway, Denmark, Sweden to the Aaland Islands of Finland where the last great Cape Horners made their homes. On to Germany, France, Portugal and Spain at charming old world cobblestone port towns and havens, small quiet island harbours and big maritime city ports, sleepy little fishing ports, meeting up with tall ships from around the world, then on to Morocco and Senegal in amazing west Africa – then sailing the famed “Middle Passage” followed by an extended sojourn through the islands and ports of the ‘unknown’ Caribbean and the Bahamas exploring as few others have had a chance to do as we sail our ship.
The voyage begins in Lunenburg. We sail in May 2012 but the trainee crew show up well before sailing in order to help get the ship ready and take part in all manner of orientation and safety training.Then, with cooperation of the weather we cast off for an eastward bound passage across the North Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps cold and foggy at first we will sail with the prevailing westerly winds across the “Western Ocean” as this part of the Atlantic was once known. About 2,800 miles it is, all the way across, broken up by a stop at some sweet island in the Azores off Portugal before heading onward to all our European ports of call. It is quite surprising how nice the winds and waters usually get a few days offshore of Nova Scotia.
I can promise all those that join our ship on this voyage will sail a great ship on a voyage rarer than the sailing ship herself; that they will have the chance to learn about ships and the sea to a level rarely available or achieved elsewhere – they will visit new lands and ports and countries as crew of a sailing ship which is so completely different than visiting as a backpacker or fly-in tourist.
Steering a tall ship, learning the 205 lines and what looks like acres of sail, steering, keeping a good lookout, hauling braces, ropework, splicing, seizing, sailmaking, painting, varnishing, tarring the rig (and yourself we must admit!), heaving up the anchor link by link, setting and furling the 21 sails all made on board by hand by the crew, making life-long friends in the ship, helping the cook get the endless meals on the table, sunny days under sail, running with a fair wind gale or hove-to instead, standing anchor watch and becoming a valuable integral member of the crew is what Picton Castle is all about. And times ashore off watch in the many and wildly varied ports all over Europe, West Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Central America and the Bahamas will become an encyclopedia of experiences that defies description in these short paragraphs.