Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Transatlantic Voyage 2015' Category

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Day’s Run – 21 March, 2016

The rebuild of KARL, our wooden project boat from Palmerston Island in the Cook Islands, South Pacific, had twin objectives: to get the gang involved with some of the skills of traditional wooden boat building and repair – including making and using our own steam box – and also to give us another boat to sail in the Caribbean.  The first objective has been clearly met, so now it’s a race against time to see if she’ll be finished in time to sail.  All the new planks are in place, seams caulked and sails made, so now work has moved on to installing the mast step and Samson post, overhauling her original tiller and rudder, and finishing up her spars ready to rig.

KARL has final planks in place

KARL has final planks in place

SHIP’S WORK: Make and install new starboard main t’gallant sheet, wooden boat KARL restoration continues, oil blocks at deck level, tar headrig, end for end starboard fore royal sheet, end for end port main royal clew line.  Seaming and tabling on three different new sails. Sail drill in foresail and t’gallant, discussion of sail handling in MOB situations

FROM: St Georges, Grenada

TOWARDS: Sandy Ground Bay, Anguilla

TIME ZONE: ZD+4

NOON POSITION: 13°59.6’N /061°55.1’W

DAYS RUN: 113nm

PASSAGE LOG: 119nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 271nm

COURSE AND SPEED: North East by North, half North(CMGT 339°T)

WIND: Force 4, East by South

WEATHER: 6/8 cloud cover (stratocumulus, altocumulus), air temp 80F (27°C), barometer reading 1019 millibars, visibility good

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 3 feet, East by South

SAILS SET: Square sails to the t’gallants, fore topmast staysail, inner jib, braced up sharp on a starboard tack.

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Day’s Run – 20 March, 2016

North bound in the Caribbean Sea, all sails set and the sun is shining.  Bound from Grenada for Anguilla, we’re sailing inside the curve of the Windward and then the Leeward Islands; keeping far enough offshore to avoid the wind shadows of the high islands, but close enough in to pick up the fair current that runs north a couple of leagues off.

After three weeks island time exploring Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and the Grenadines, it’s good to be at sea again.  We’re expecting a passage of around four days.

Work continues on KARL

Work continues on KARL

SHIP’S WORK: Bend main t’gallant staysail, KARL restoration continues, tighten and slush port davit guys, greasing round on deck. Fire drill, abandon ship drill, MOB drill. Drill in spanker and mainsail.

 

FROM: St Georges, Grenada

TOWARDS: Sandy Ground Bay, Anguilla

TIME ZONE: ZD+4

NOON POSITION: 12°07.3’N /061°48.5’W

DAYS RUN: 6nm

PASSAGE LOG: 6nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 385nm

COURSE AND SPEED: West half North (CMGT 323°T)

WIND: Force 2, East by North

WEATHER: 4/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 82F (28°C), barometer reading 1019 millibars, visibility good

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 2 feet, East North East

SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, fore, main and mizzen topmast staysails, inner jib, outer jib, braced up a point on the port tack.

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Day’s Run – 11 March, 2016

Sailing MONOMOY yesterday from Union Island over to Petite Martinique in company with PICTON CASTLE – we even had time for a swim at the most perfect little island on the way…

12 March grenadines 03 12 March grenadines 02 12 March grenadines 01

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Day’s Run – 8 March, 2016

Bequia is pretty much classic Caribbean…with its funky painted houses down to fine white sand beaches and crystal clear water, which pretty much begs you to jump in.  There’s reggae music, fried chicken, fresh coconuts to drink and heaps of sailing: from little kids learning to sail in optimist dinghys to FRIENDSHIP ROSE, the most recent wooden schooner to be built on the beach here – and still going strong, now earning a living doing daysails now instead of running cargo and passengers between here and the big island of St Vincent. And of course, our own PICTON CASTLE boats: SEA NEVER DRY and MONOMOY have been out every day too, learning small boat seamanship and having a time.  There’s no big cruise ship dock here, so tourists are limited to a steady stream of yachts and a few smaller cruise ships anchoring off.  It all makes for a less hectic vibe than some of the bigger islands.

8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 17 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 16 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 15 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 14 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 13 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 12 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 11 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 10 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 09 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 08 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 07 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 06 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 05 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 04 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 03 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 02 8 Mar Bequia to Dominica 01

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Day’s Run – 6 March, 2016

PICTON CASTLE crew spent the first few days of March in Dominica – an amazing visit to a wonderful island!  The island is steep with no good anchorage so we put out the port anchor and tied our stern tied to a tree – that way the anchor is trying to drag up hill and held beautifully.  Dominica is just a short daysail north of Martinique, but it’s a totally different place, even the weather seemed more steamy – hot and damp.  The island is big and incredibly lush and beautiful with seemingly endless rainforest and waterfalls to explore.  I’m sure I’ll be saying it in a few more places yet, but it seems the people are extra welcoming here too…

6 Mar Dominica helm and Dominica resized 6 Mar Dominica ocean swim resized 6 Mar Dominica ship tied resized 6 Mar Dominica ship resized 6 Mar Dominica resized

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Day’s Run – 28 February, 2016

After a wonderful couple of weeks at sea, the crew are enjoying some island time…  St Pierre in Martinique has all the charm of a sophisticated small town in France, but the sunshine and palm-fringed beaches of the Caribbean.  Mount Pelle, is the islands volcano, and it’s still active – the last eruption was in 1902 and completely destroyed St Pierre – the current town was built up again from those ruins. The scenery is dramatic and lush and the anchorage is deep.  It’s the perfect spot to sail small boats, and swim-calls at the end of the work day are pretty popular too!

27 Feb Martinique 4 27 Feb Martinique 327 Feb Martinique 1

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Day’s Run – 23 February, 2016

Another sweet day of easy, trade wind sailing: blue seas, big blue skies and a fair breeze filling the white sails. The captain held an all-hands discussion this afternoon about the Caribbean Islands we may visit in the next month or so. He did a great job of whetting our appetite: amazing history and culture, delightful variety, much small boat adventures in warm, turquoise waters; expeditions to palm-fringed sandy beaches or jungle and waterfalls in the higher islands; snorkelling and scuba diving; visits to sugar plantations or to see wooden boats being built on the sand; but most of all exploring and soaking up the vibe of these wonderful islands. I’m sure most of the crew would rather be back home in the snow, but someone’s gotta sail this barque around the Caribbean 🙂

Emil working on new pilot ladder

Emil working on new pilot ladder

SHIP’S WORK: Move the stu’n’s’l gear to the starboard side so we can set the sails on the other tack; varnish galley house trim, varnish quarterdeck rails; scrape and paint bottom of our Lunenburg Dory SEA NEVER DRY; The bottom planks are now all installed in KARL so they were faired off and given a coat of primer – just the topsides to plank now! KARL spar and sail making also continued; assembly of the new pilot ladder continues; installed upper spanker crane-line; installed newly varnished helm grates. The watches drilled in st’n’s’ls overnight. Celestial practice continues with sun lines.

FROM: Mindelo, Sāo Vicente, Cape Verde
TOWARDS: The West Indies
TIME ZONE: ZD+3
NOON POSITION: 15°05.6’N /056°42.0’W
DAYS RUN: 98nm
PASSAGE LOG: 1,946nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 226nm
COURSE AND SPEED: West by North (CMGT 284°T)
WIND: Force 5, East by South
WEATHER: 4/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 80F (27°C), barometer reading 1020 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 3-5 feet, East x North
SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, fore topmast and t’gallant studdingsails, fore topmast staysail, inner jib, outer jib, braced up a point on the starboard tack.

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Day’s Run – 24 February, 2016

It looks to be our last full day at sea of this most excellent transatlantic tradewind passage; we’re expecting to make our landfall in Martinique tomorrow.  It’s a little sad to be coming to the end of these long moonlit nights and sun soaked days at sea but a port stop in a sweet French Caribbean Island doesn’t sound so bad either! The watches wore ship every 4 hours or so through the day and night, making long tacks down wind – the ship makes more speed slightly on the wind than on a dead run.

Ty at helm; Gary varnishing

Ty at helm; Gary varnishing

SHIP’S WORK: Varnish galley house trim, varnish quarterdeck rails; install middle spanker horses (a sort of foot-rope); paint buff and green starboard fruit locker; paint water cooler holder tropical blue; continue work on KARL planks, spar and sails.  The spanker was set this evening for the first time in a while so the watches drilled striking and setting it overnight. Celestial navigation class moved onto star sights today.

FROM: Mindelo, Sāo Vicente, Cape Verde

TOWARDS: St Pierre, Martinique

TIME ZONE: ZD+4

NOON POSITION: 15°26.2’N /058°56.8’W

DAYS RUN: 128nm

PASSAGE LOG: 2,074nm

DISTANCE REMAINING: 93nm

COURSE AND SPEED: West North West(CMGT 275°T)

WIND: Force 4, East North East

WEATHER: 1/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 82F (28°C), barometer reading 1021 millibars, visibility good

SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 3-5 feet, East

SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, fore topmast and t’gallant studdingsails, fore topmast staysail, inner jib, outer jib, braced up a point on the port tack.

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Day’s Run – 22 February, 2016

Just another trade-wind Monday. There are now at least four sailmakers working on the quarterdeck at any one time, and four or five carpenters working midships getting Karl planked up, or planning down the mast on the port side of the well deck. The starboard well-deck is a cat’s cradle of footropes and cranelines getting inspected and served and seizings replaced as required. There’s a little clear water, toe high, splashing across the main deck, which keeps it nice and cool and refreshing on the feet – not like the quarterdeck which is too hot to go barefoot in the middle of the day in these tropics. The watch are mostly varnishing now, making the most of the hot sun to get plenty of coats on, and then at noon four or five people appear with sextants to shoot the sun. There’s usually a navigator or two taking the stars at twilight too.

23 feb Sam G re-painting the dragon and castle from the stack

SHIP’S WORK: Spanker craneline maintenance; seaming upper topsail; KARL planking, spar and sailmaking; coats of varnish on the quarterdeck rails; scrape, sand and vanish the aft galley house trim; varnish helm grates; continue to assemble the new pilot ladder. The watches drilled in taking in and re-setting the stu’n’s’ls overnight.

FROM: Mindelo, Sāo Vicente, Cape Verde
TOWARDS: The West Indies
TIME ZONE: ZD+3
NOON POSITION: 15°36.7’N /055°03.2’W
DAYS RUN: 93nm
PASSAGE LOG: 1,838nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 329nm
COURSE AND SPEED: West by South (CMGT 260°T)
WIND: Force 3, East
WEATHER: 2/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 82F (28°C), barometer reading 1019 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 2-4 feet, East
SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, fore lower, topmast and t’gallant studdingsails, fore topmast staysail, inner jib, outer jib, main topmast staysail, main t’gallant staysail; braced up a point on the port tack under a cloud of canvas.

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Day’s Run – 21 February, 2016

Rigged studding sails on the fore-mast today. Studding sails or st’n’s’ls are extra sails set in light airs to add sail area and thus a little extra speed running down wind. These lovely sails date from clippers ship days and before. The breeze was finally light enough to need them today, so anyone who wanted to help got to spend a couple of happy hours aloft in the sunshine helping to rig them up: it was beautiful working high in the rig, the ship small below and surrounded by endless cobalt blue sky with flying fish skidding here and there over the small seas. St’n’s’ls are set ‘flying’ from deck, which is a neat bit of seamanship, and it shows just how far our crew have come that they can competently manage this on top of all of our usual sails. The sails have the added advantage of looking magnificent. In these conditions they ad maybe half a knot. That’s 12 miles a day, which can add up on a long passage.

st'n's'ls

st’n’s’ls

SHIP’S WORK: Send up st’n’s’l gear: run aloft to lash blocks for the halyards and tacks, send up the st’n’s’l booms and lash them outboard so they rest in the irons that are fixed to the yards for that purpose, send messenger lines down to reeve off the lines themselves and run the working ends down to deck and the dead-ends to belaying pins on the foreward fife rail. Then the sails are bent onto bamboo poles, the halyards, sheets and tacks are hitched on and the sails are ready to be set, from the focslehead, t’gallant st’n’s’l first. This afternoon we had a workshop to give each watch practice at striking and setting the new sails, and all did very well.

FROM: Mindelo, Sāo Vicente, Cape Verde
TOWARDS: The West Indies
TIME ZONE: ZD+3
NOON POSITION: 16°09.2’N /053°35.7’W
DAYS RUN: 74nm
PASSAGE LOG: 1,745nm
DISTANCE REMAINING: 422nm
COURSE AND SPEED: West (CMGT 282°T)
WIND: Force 2, East x North
WEATHER: 3/8 cloud cover (cumulus), air temp 80F (27°C), barometer reading 1018 millibars, visibility good
SWELL HEIGHT & DIRECTION: approx 2-3 feet, East by North SAILS SET: All square sails to the royals, fore lower, topmast and t’gallant studdingsails, fore topmast staysail, inner jib, outer jib, main topmast staysail, main t’gallant staysail; braced up a point on the port tack under a cloud of canvas.

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