Captain's Log

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Days Run – 14 August, 2018

Meat donuts for breakfast! Called “bakes” in Grenada where they are a long-standing traditional side dish. Always a great way to start your day off here on board the Picton Castle. Busy, beautiful day on board as we motor through headwinds. The Captain says this pretty odd wind patterns but not unheard of, just odd. Last night we sailed through a front and squall lines and then winds pooped out altogether followed by becoming westerly this morning. But Rarotonga calls. We want to get there Saturday.

Ship’s work: The fore mast fife rail received a coat of varnish yesterday and the main mast fife rail is being scraped today. The inside head was primed and the carpenters were working on the quarterdeck replacing and planing a deck plank. The riggers, covered in tar as usual, have sent down foot ropes and are serving them on the main deck. And 6-year-old Dawson packs for the beach, excitedly awaiting our arrival in Rarotonga, where “his beach” awaits him.

Yesterday our Chief Mate Erin, of Bermuda, held a block and tackle workshop, educating the crew on different blocks we have on board, demonstrating how to care for a block by taking it apart, applying a hefty amount of grease and linseed oil and how to put it all back together. The crew was eager to learn how the blocks worked, what the various kinds do and which jobs are best for the different blocks. We do not have winches; who needs them when we have tackles galore.

From: Mangareva, French Polynesia
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 14th, 2018
Noon Position: 20°12.4’S x 148°51′ W
Course + Speed: WxS + 5.1 knots
Wind direction + Force: SSW + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + WxN
Weather: Bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 94.7nm
Passage Log: 123.6nm
Distance to Port: 614.5nm
Voyage: 7611.5nm
Sails Set: All heads’ls, main t’gallant stays’l, main topmast stays’l, mizzen stays’l, spanker

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Day’s Runs – 12 & 13 August, 2018

Sunday at sea.  Seeing as we’d like to arrive at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands this coming weekend, yesterday we pushed forward in no wind by motoring from morning until 1500. Then after the Captain held a discussion on the quarterdeck pertaining to what Rarotonga has to offer us keen explorers; snorkeling, hiking, small boat sailing with locals, theatre and attending church to experience the breathtaking choir. And the Cook Islands Voyaging Society with their big ocean-going vaka, a double-hulled canoe. The Captain then touched on Leg 2 of our voyage and without going into great detail laid out what lies ahead; homestays in Palmerston, the culture of Vanuatu, meeting Vai’s family in Tonga and going into dry dock in Fiji. It’s mind-boggling to most of us that we are so far from our home countries and that we’re closing in on the end of Leg 1.

Immediately following our muster we broke out our ship’s speaker, blew up balloons, finished decorating the cakes and set up for face painting, as it was Dawson’s 6th birthday party! Our ever so talented carpenter Anders, of Denmark, was able to demonstrate his skills as a face painter, creating clowns, a pirate, cats, a pig, and Dawson chose to be godzilla for his birthday! A 4′ x 6′ piece of plywood was painted by Abbey, of North Carolina, and on the blank wood she painted a blue barque leaving out the spanker sail. A spanker was made of cardboard and painted yellow, this allowed us to play “Pin the Spanker on the Ship!” Dawson excitedly played and encouraged others to join in on the fun. A pinata in the shape of a 6 was hung over the center of the hatch and Dawson displayed excellent seamanship by slicing it open with his wooden sword. Fun was had by all!

From: Mangareva
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 12th, 2018
Noon Position: 20°45.3′ S x 144°35.3′ W
Course + Speed: WxN + 4.2 knots
Wind direction + Force: WSW + 2 Swell
Height + Direction: 3m + SW
Weather: Sunny
Day’s Run: 95.8nm
Passage Log: 101.1nm
Distance to Port: 852nm
Voyage: 7337.4nm
Sails Set: Motoring

 

 

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Day’s Run – 11 August, 2018

Lots of rain yesterday afternoon, causing outdoor projects to move below decks or to be packed up and returned to another day. The weather made for exciting watches consisting of lots of sail handling. As the wind shifted from north as we sailed on the starboard tack, we wore ship, altering our course from westerly all around the clock to northwest as wind is now from the SW. The wind is normally from the east. It would seem strange that our destination is to the west yet we aren’t heading in that direction. With sailing you have to, so they say, “go where the wind takes you”. It would be similar to embarking on a road trip, coming to a closed off road and redirecting your route in order to reach your desired destination.

Ship’s work: The riggers were sent down from aloft yesterday afternoon due to the sideways rain. They return to their work today, replacing tacks and sheets on the courses. The sailmakers work up on the quarterdeck in the warm sun, happily stitching away the canvas of the new t’gallant sail. The inside head received a coat of primer, and the steering sweep, the oar the Monomoy coxswain uses to steer, received its Picton Castle label. Anders of Denmark is constructing a new wooden mallet made of Canadian pine. As Saturday carries on, projects are winding down and on-watch crew are able to catch up on their personal projects, sharpen their knives, keep up with their nautical studying or practice one of the many skills the Captain has taught us. This afternoon the Captain will continue his lessons on seizings. The biggest and most important task of today is prepping for Dawson’s 6th Birthday Party. He proudly handed out coloured invitations to all 44 persons onboard and is very excited to celebrate his big day with his Picton Castle family.

From: Mangareva
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 11th, 2018
Noon Position: 21°46.7′ S x 143°16.1′ W
Course + Speed: NW 1/2 N + 3.8 knots
Wind direction + Force: WxS + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + WSW
Weather: Bright, Sunny
Day’s Run: 34.8nm
Passage Log: 472.2nm
Distance to Port: 923nm
Voyage: 7236.3nm
Sails Set: All square sails, main t’gallant stays’l, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l, mizzen stays’l, spanker and all heads’ls

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Captain’s Log – 10 August, 2018

We’re moving along beautifully, averaging 5 – 7 knots by the wind in our sails. Our hand-stitched canvas is filled as we glide along on a starboard tack, headed west. The sunsets and sunrises have been fantastic these past couple of evenings and mornings.

Ship’s work: With gusting winds, this morning’s watch spent a lot of their time sail handling! The rigging team, Vai, Anne-Laure and this week’s dayman rigger Tristan are busy changing out the tacks and sheets for the courses. Good to have new rope in their places. This afternoon the bosun and a few keen helpers will put the windlass back together after it received a minor overhaul. Braham, of Texas, is proudly polishing our brass foc’sle head bell, the bell is often used when heaving up the anchor to indicate the amount of anchor chain remaining out. Soon to be six-year-old Dawson has spent his early afternoon playing a healthy game of hide and go seek, as well as party planning for his birthday celebration this coming Sunday. Lunch was delicious edamame curry wraps with rice. During lunch, the gang on the Aloha had a discussion on how many more miles we had until Raro, what speed we were going at and what our speed has been averaging. It was a rather comical discussion, mostly due to the heavy winds, as it was hard to hear one and other. It resembled a set of grandparents attempting to discuss the day’s weather. On board the ship if you’ve misheard, didn’t compute or could not hear an order given you simply say “say again”. There were a lot of “say agains” at this past meal along with a lot of laughs.

From: Mangareva
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 10, 2018
Noon Position: 22°18.6′ S x 143°28.7′ W
Course + Speed: WxS 1/2 S + 4.8 knots
Wind direction + Force: NWxN + 5
Swell Height + Direction:  3m + N
Weather: Sunny, partly cloudy
Day’s Run: 114.5nm
Passage Log: 114.4nm
Distance to Port:  910nm
Voyage: 7144nm
Sails Set: Main sail, foresail, lower tops’ls, upper tops’ls, mizzen topmast stays’l

 

 

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Captain’s Log – Westward Bound 2

August 10, 2018 – Westward Bound 2

Just after dawn, Picton Castle 22-10S / 143-05W. Yards braced up, royals in and stowed, making good speed. Winds northerly at 18 knots, seas not so big at 6-8 feet, sky partly cloudy, low scudding clouds…

Bright seas and skies. Some spray coming over the weather rail amidships from time to time. Good idea to know where not to stand sometimes. Fishing lines trailing astern, got a mahi-mahi and a wahoo yesterday. Small wonder how the Polynesian explorers got around. Not always easterly tradewinds hereabouts. Plenty westerlies and southerlies and northerlies. Who got the idea that it always blew from the east in the South Pacific? Pretty much does blow from the east in the Atlantic/Caribbean tradewind belt but not so here. In a big sailing vaka, you could make some time in these winds making this ocean feel a lot smaller… Sailing just fine here though, at least for now. Dawson is planning his Big 6 Year Old Birthday Party. Turns out that “All are Invited”. Blue cake and presents are on the agenda.

 

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Captain’s Log – Westward Bound in the Barque Picton Castle

Westward Bound in the Barque Picton Castle 22-20S  / 139-16W midday August 8, 2018

Sailing along here just south of an atoll called Fangataufa in the Tuamotus. Yards close to square, with a big fan in them, sky strikingly blue, swells about 12 foot, also as blue as can be. Rolling along sailing ever westward in this South Pacific Ocean as fine as can be done. We can see the palms of the atoll in haze off to the north on the starboard beam about 6 miles away. This atoll was a base for Marururoa of nuke testing fame. Pretty enough from here, wonder what the fish are like?

We are bound for Rarotonga after a fine stop at Mangareva and an outstanding visit to Pitcairn. Pitcairn was as good as a visit could be, so say the Pitcairners themselves. And Mangareva is sweet. Quiet and serene, we go through several passes to anchor inside a lagoon, inside another lagoon, inside a barrier reef. Beautiful. And deceptive. Very smooth but holding is not the best for a ship like Picton Castle. Once in at the anchorage, we are surrounded by reef not more than a few ship-lengths away should the vessel start to drag in a squall. But there is the copra wharf we could lash ourselves to should the need arise and a supply ship is not in at the moment. What I like about Mangareva besides everything*  is that with the surrounding islands, still within the greater lagoon, only 3 and 4 miles away there are a number of islands perfect for overnight longboat expeditions for the gang. So, after clearing in and the first run ashore to find that elusive cold drink (and today, we must ALL check out our Facebook!), and after some practice sailing in the bay and packing waaay too much, off they sail for the night and day for an island called Aukena or Akamaru, find a pass around the coral heads, pull up the boats out of the swell, make camp and a fire, cook something up and get bit by bugs and goats. Ok, no goats. The longboat, the big dory, and a spare skiff as a chase or rescue boat and a radio check-in with the mother ship. I expect that they will get up to some hijinks – but no, not this crowd, reports that all went to bed, hammock, nest, early…But very interesting to sail a boat almost identical to Bligh’s Bounty Launch all around a South Pacific lagoon. And, the gang had great fun trading for black pearls.

* tall dark mountains as a backdrop, white tropicbirds with their forked tails swooping in couples high overhead, flaming hibiscus everywhere, fragrant Tiare Tahiti also, baguettes, pamplemousse, dancing in the halls, sunsets from the wharf, mixing it up with the pearl divers, swimming in the lagoon, kids swimming out to the ship and swinging off a fore-yard swing rope, young couples swaying in their pareaus walking down a quiet lane, catching up with old acquaintances, black pearls, the odd scooter or pickup puttering by, calm evenings, roosters waking us before dawn, take the skiff in at 0600 to pick up fresh baguettes at the bakery that had been ordered the night before, looking out across the lagoon over the motus to the crashing surf beyond, thinking about the rich history of Polynesia here mostly lost to time, thoughts of Pitcairn Island over the years, the miles and passages ahead.

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Day’s Run – 9 August, 2018

Picton Castle rolls on through the swells. Crew members are treading carefully on deck as spray splashes up over the rails and soaks anyone or anything in its path. This morning we were topping out at 8 knots, we’ve eased down to about 6  this lunch hour.

Ship’s work: Carlos and Anders continue their woodwork on the quarterdeck with minor repairs. Vaiufia leads the charge with the rigging team, sending Anne-Laure aloft to renew seizings and guiding Tristan through grommet making. The sailmakers are back at it again, carefully avoiding the sawdust in their midst, spreading out as much canvas as possible on the quarterdeck. Yesterday’s workshop has made everyone keen to learn new seizings when Captain Moreland demonstrated the three most commonly used. Inventory is high on the to-do list today, Corey is conducting his regular safety gear check inspecting and noting all safety gear onboard, while Dustin ensures that our skiff contains all of its safety equipment.

As we sail towards Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands, there’s lots of talk regarding crew members’ to-do lists upon arrival and subsequent few days off. Snorkelling, renting bicycles, hiking, swimming, sun bathing, spa day, and waterfalls are all ideas being bounced around. Sadly some crew members will leave us, continuing on their own journey, however, a few who had originally intended to sign off the ship in Raro have chosen to stay! Excitingly, we will greet new crew members and escort them through this exciting world of tall ship sailing. With Rarotonga being a great port for the ship and individual crew provisioning, a very large grocery shop will take place – have you ever shopped for 50 people for two months? Our cook Donald is an expert and the fastest shopper, it’s a race to keep up with him! And so, with all this in mind, we look forward to meeting our ship’s beautiful South Pacific home.

From: Mangareva
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 9th 2018
Noon Position: 21°56′ S x 141°28.5′ W
Course + Speed: WxS + 6.1 knots
Wind direction + Force: NNE + 6
Swell Height + Direction: 4m + NE
Weather: Sunny, various clouds
Day’s Run: 143nm
Passage Log: 375.2nm
Distance to Port: 1022nm
Voyage: 7029.6nm
Sails Set: Main sail, fore sail, lower tops’ls, upper tops’ls, main t’gallant, main topmast stays’l

 

 

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Running our westing down

August 9, 2018

Picton Castle is at 21-54 S and 141-40 where at 0930 on this strong Tradewind morning of August 9, 2018. Winds piped up pretty much on schedule and have been backing slowly.Windd and seas have been making up and we were making almost 9 knots before we took in t’gallants to get her settled down a bit. The gang took in these sails and the mainsail with some loud flogging of canvas, quickly stowed as the good seamen they are. Now the steering has become better and we are still making good speed. Bright sunny day. Blue seas with plenty of white caps. Sailmakers sewing away on the quarterdeck. Carpenters fixing up some deck planks – doing a nice job too. Riggers overhauled the mizzen bottle screws and set up the shrouds, all snug now.

We are about 30 miles SW of an atoll by the name of Tematagi in the Tuamotus and about 1,040 miles due east of Rarotonga.

 

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In Honour of Captain Bert Rogers

James Rogers lowering the American flag from half-mast in honour of his father Captain Bert Rogers. 20° 14′ south / 146° 49′ west

Aug 13, 2018

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Day’s Run – 8 August, 2018

Picton Castle sails along on a westerly course, rolling side to side through the South Pacific waters with a beautifully painted hull. A fresh coat of white paint was added in Mangareva. Wind filling our canvas, a breeze blows across the deck and to living quarters below as the sun shines down warming our tanned skin. For many of us that live north of 30° longitude, it’s hard to believe this is considered winter here in the South Pacific.

Ship’s Work: Tinkering, hammering, and scraping echo throughout the ship. The bosun is keeping the daymen and watch-standers busy. The riggers are replacing grommets on blocks and seizings on the foremast.

Mike of British Columbia, Canada is practicing his hand seaming on a new t’gallant as our sailmaker John of Boston, USA mends an old t’gallant.

Tony of England continues his hand at carpentry by upgrading our jerry-can holder, while Carlos of Ontario, Canada works steadily on the quarterdeck replacing parts of deck planks. Considering our white pine deck is 22 years old and the amount of wear and tear and hot burning tropical sun she receives it’s impressive what good shape it’s in.  Captain says this is due to being oiled frequently and plenty of salt water.

Our inside head is being prepped for a fresh coat of paint, the windlass is being rust busted and a seamanship workshop will take place at 1600. Beautiful day aboard the Picton Castle, it can’t get much better than this.

From: Mangareva, French Polynesia
Towards: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: August 8th, 2018
Noon Position: 22°22′ S x 138°57 W
Course + Speed: W x N + 3.6 knots
Wind direction + Force: NExE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + ENE
Weather: bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 85.2nm
Distance to Port: 1161nmVoyage: 6883.2nm
Sails Set: All square sails, spanker, all four head sails (flying jib, outer jib, inner jib + fore topmast stays’l), main topmast stays’l and main t’gallant stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

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