The World Voyage of the Picton Castle
In the spring of 2018, the Barque Picton Castle casts off on an epic year-long voyage under sail bound around the world. Forty dedicated men and women are selected to crew the Picton Castle under the ship’s officers. All hands stand regular watches at sea and in port, sharing the work, costs, and achievements of sailing this classic square-rigger around the world. This unique and enriching voyage of discovery demands a huge commitment from all who are selected to join.
To sail around our ocean-covered globe as crew in a square-rigged sailing ship is truly the ultimate voyage, the adventure of a lifetime.
To be welcomed into island communities as a working Picton Castle crew member makes for unique personal contacts and experiences not to be had by the conventional traveler or yachtsman.
The Picton Castle is a ship of learning: learning the ways of a ship and the sea; learning from the people we meet and perhaps learning about ourselves. Our primary purpose is to cross the great oceans of the world under canvas; gain and practice the arts and skills of the accomplished seafarer: of steering a large sailing ship, rigging, splicing, sailmaking, chartwork, navigation, small boat handling.
We experience and enjoy life at sea, not as passengers, but as full members of a wind ship’s crew. Our secondary purpose is to explore this ocean world of ours: sailing the steady trade winds, visiting remote sun-drenched islands and exotic, legendary storybook ports. At the islands and ports we visit, we can immerse ourselves in the cultures we encounter.
Perhaps thought of as taking a “year off” from our lives, our voyage is much more of a “year on”, the likes of which you have never experienced before. Our voyage sees us leave our convenient Western life behind, joining for a while the lives of the Polynesians, Melanesians, Balinese, and Africans. Working alongside Pitcairn Islanders, fishing, grating coconuts or helping unload cargo from an infrequent supply ship. Being just short of touching a baby sea lion in the Galapagos or feeling the breath of a porpoise as it passes close by. Swimming under a jungle waterfall. Meeting people in their own lands and on their own terms, who at first seem so different from us and then perhaps not so different.
Hosting a dance party on board for befriended islanders. Experiencing storms and calms, busy ports, and the rhythm of long ocean passages. Few ever have the chance for a voyage like ours.
The Planned Route Around the World
Leaving the chilly North Atlantic in her wake, the Picton Castle steers south for the tropics to the Panama Canal. After loading supplies and trade goods for the South Pacific Islands at the fascinating and history city of Balboa, Panama, we venture into the broad Pacific. A week or so at sea brings us to the strange and desolate world of the Galapagos – barren volcanic islands oddly teeming with life.
Porpoises, iguanas, sea lions, giant tortoises and even penguins remain the principal denizens of these protected islands.
From there, we watch the southeast trade winds on our first long sea passage – 2,700 miles to Pitcairn Island. Isolated in the loneliest reaches of the South Pacific, the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian consorts still call Pitcairn Island home. Few have the privilege of visiting Pitcairn, yet old friends of Captain Moreland welcome the Picton Castle crew ashore in turns to share in island living as the ship lies hove-to off-shore with a watch aboard.
The next few months are spent sailing the broad blue and legendary South Pacific where coral reefs and languid, protected lagoons make for perfect diving, fishing, swimming, and overnight expeditions in the ship’s longboat. In Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, our South Pacific Island homeport, the Picton Castle crew is made to feel especially welcome in that unique Cook Island 'Kia Orana' way, with island night fests and dances. Then on to intensely ‘old school’ Polynesian Tonga (Polynesia’s only unconquered kingdom), and Fiji, where Polynesia meets Melanesia. Just when we think the whole world consists of idyllic Polynesian islands, we sail through the islands of Vanuatu, where we can attend a traditional 'kastom' dance, and have a feast of 'laplap' and 'kava' with villagers on Malekula. Or trading for baskets and carvings in Pentecost. The setting for Michener’s World War II 'Tales of the South Pacific', old bombers lay wrecked in the jungles from the landings of their last flights. And Jack London’s stories of these islands with their magic and brooding volcanos could have been written yesterday instead of a century ago.
Sailing ever westward, we thread the tide-ripped Torres Strait into the Arafura sea to Bali and its crowded harbour leading to a land of huge stone temples, thrumming night markets, terraced rice paddies, monkey forests, ancient elaborate dances, wood and stone carving and a busy cultural and spiritual life that will introduce us to new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Picton Castle then sails across the Indian Ocean to Rodrigues, Reunion, Madagascar, and down around the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town, 'Tavern of the Seas', is the gateway to much of southern Africa with enriching visits to townships, wildlife preserves and beautiful wine country in the soft Mediterranean climate of the Western Cape province. We expect to put in at the diamond country of Namibia before setting off for St. Helena, that outpost of the British Empire and last island of exile for Napoleon Bonaparte.
Then we square yards for a long South Atlantic 'flying fish' passage which hauls us across the equator and to the emerald Isles of the Caribbean, such as Grenada, Carriacou or Martinique and others where we will explore and sail our small boats with local knowledge of a rare depth. Island boat building, cities wrecked by volcanos, classic yacht regattas, sugar cane plantations and rich histories will be our fare. Our last tropical passage takes us north to Bermuda and the final leg home to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
One year and a bit, 30,000 miles. The voyage of a lifetime.
World Voyage 7 Itinerary
|Leg 1||New Orleans, Louisiana, USA||April 23, 2018|
|Panama & Panama Canal|
|Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands||August 1, 2018|
|Leg 2||Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands||August 2, 2018|
|Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands|
|Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga|
|Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu|
|Bali, Indonesia||October 29, 2018|
|Leg 3||Bali, Indonesia||October 30, 2018|
|Cape Town, South Africa||January 28, 2019|
|Leg 4||Cape Town, South Africa||January 29, 2019|
|Grenada & the Grenadines|
|British Virgin Islands|
|Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada||May 18, 2019|
On the Picton Castle safety is paramount. While the voyage is carefully planned to follow the most favourable global sailing conditions, the routing and ports are subject to adjustment as the voyage progresses. Adverse winds, weather forecasts, and fluid or potentially volatile political developments may require the Captain to alter the ports visited for the security of the ship and all hands.
Life at Sea
It’s a lot of work to circumnavigate the world in a square-rigged ship. You will experience exhilarating sailing days of incomparable beauty. Then there will be days of temper-straining tedium in muggy doldrums when nothing seems to be going right. At times you will be hot, dirty and fed up. At other times, bathed in sea breezes, you will wish to be nowhere else in the world. This voyage is anything but a casual endeavor. It is a challenge, sometimes a very personal one.
But what is life at sea like? In the tropics we live, work, and often sleep on deck in the trade winds – a barefoot, healthy outdoor life. We are on a three-watch system: 4 hours on duty with the next 8 hours off. Occasionally all hands will be called.
On our daytime 4-hour watch we spend our time steering, handling sail, doing rigging work, sail making and keeping our seagoing home clean, orderly, and shipshape. Sanding, painting, cleaning, tarring the rig, oiling the spars are all traditional duties of seafarers before the mast. You will also be called upon to help the cook in the galley and to take our turn washing dishes. Off watch there is plenty of time for leisure and solitude. Time to read and write letters home, work on your canvas ditty bag or new sea chest. Time to learn the sextant, marlinspike and sewing palm. Time to strum a guitar up on the foredeck when the afternoon watch is done and contemplate the beauty of the sea and sky around us.
Frequent workshops in ropework, rigging, seamanship, Rules of the Road, celestial navigation, ocean winds and weather and other nautical subjects as well as safety drills are carried out during the long sea passages. Naturally, much of our learning is simply absorbed while carrying out our daily tasks and useful work sailing the ship, up aloft in the thousands of square feet of sail doing a rigging job for the bosun with the wide blue ocean sparking below, hauling on braces at the lee rail to trim the yards with your watch-mates, standing your trick at the helm, keeping forward lookout on a star-filled night on the foc’sle head.
The Captain and His Ship
Captain Daniel Moreland is one of the most respected sailing ship masters at sea today. An internationally recognized authority on square-rig and traditional sailing ships, he started his career sailing in the West Indies in island schooners, brigantines, and passenger windjammers. Having first sailed around the world as Mate in the Brigantine Romance in the 1970’s he later served for four years training young officer cadets for the Danish Merchant Marine in the famous Danish state full-rigged school ship Danmark. His experience in refitting sailing ships and interest in learning, studying and teaching the value of traditional sail led him to design and carry out the full refit of the Picton Castle for her deep-sea voyages. Moreland has received numerous international awards for his contribution to sail training and historic ship restorations. Captain Moreland holds the rarest license issued to Merchant Marine officers today: Unlimited Master in Steam, Motor, and Sail. With over 40 years at sea as master or mate of topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs, and barques, making numerous transatlantic voyages, tall ships voyages, and six global circumnavigations in Picton Castle, there are few who are as well qualified to lead a world voyage and train apprentice sailors.
The Barque Picton Castle is a classic square rigger, a representation of the latter days of the age of sail when deep-sea sailing ships reached their highest development. Strong, stable, and seaworthy, the Picton Castle’s clipper-bowed hull is built of rugged riveted steel.
She has clear, open decks of oiled pine. The Picton Castle exemplifies those last great steel sailing ships that battled Cape Horn and brought their crews and cargoes safely into port. From the jutting jibboom, along her graceful shear to her large teak steering wheel all the way aft up on the quarterdeck and aloft through her 205 lines of manila running rigging, to her massive steel masts and wooden yards spreading out what looks like acres of canvas sails, all made by hand aboard the ship, she is the last of a breed.
Built in England of North Sea design, the Picton Castle spent years trading from the Arctic circle along the fjords of Norway to southern Europe. She served with distinction in the British Royal Navy during WWII. After years of cold, grueling North Atlantic service, the Picton Castle was completely overhauled and refitted for deep-sea trade wind voyaging. All hands are accommodated in upper and lower pilot bunks in the large, communal main salon in the ‘tween decks as well as in the traditional sailors’ foc’sle, forepeak and after bunkroom.
Her barque rig is powerful and proven, her Danish diesel auxiliary engine ample and reliable. The Picton Castle is fully outfitted with modern up-to-date safety, rescue, and fire-fighting equipment.
Her stability has been thoroughly tested in inclining experiments, calculations and in sailing tens of thousands of miles safely in gales and all kinds of weather. High rails and a stout rig go a long way to keep us safe on board in even extreme heavy weather. Five steel bulkheads divide her six watertight compartments. She is surveyed annually by recognised certified inspectors.
Who Can Join?
The Picton Castle’s world voyage is open to men and women who are dedicated to learning the way of a ship and contributing to the common good of the voyage. Mostly we are looking for folks who will make good shipmates. Sailing experience is not essential, but under the Captain and his officers, the Picton Castle is as fine a teacher of the ways of a ship and the sea as one could hope for. You must be willing and able to do your fair share at sea and in port on this working expedition. A flexible, tolerant person with the ability to get along with people and new situations will make for a good shipmate. If the challenge of sailing around the world and learning the arts of seafaring appeals to you, fill out an application. The Captain will want to meet with you, and it would be a pleasure to have you visit the Picton Castle.
Trading And Service Under Sail
The Picton Castle has a 50-ton hold capacity for carrying trade-goods and much needed supplies to our island friends. Delivering supplies and picking up exotic goods in the Far East and Africa makes the Picton Castle the first cargo-carrying square-rigged ship to put to sea in many years.
At the start of the voyage, much of the ship’s cargo hold is filled with donated school books and supplies for us to deliver to eager students in needy schools along the way. We will often lend a hand at island communities and villages we visit; perhaps to help plant a vegetable garden, paint a new school house, put a roof on a home or help the ship’s Medical Officer when conducting a clinic at an isolated island.
The Picton Castle was refitted for world voyaging in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1996-97. Almost every shipwright, welder, block maker, spar maker, sailmaker and ship fitter in Lunenburg had a hand in making her ready for sea. Between voyages, the Picton Castle makes this charming seaport her North American home. Famous as the town that built fast and able Canadian fishing schooners, including the magnificent Bluenose, Lunenburg retains the salt-water seaport working character and atmosphere of the age of sail. Lunenburg is our base of operations and the final homecoming port on this voyage.
Prices for the voyage, in US dollars (USD), are as follows.
Uncertain about the cost? Look more closely at our voyage fees.
Step aboard for this adventurous journey. Start by filling out the online trainee application form. For more information, contact the voyage coordinator. We look forward to receiving your application.
More in this Section
World Voyage 7
Around the world: Panama, Galapagos, Pitcairn, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Bali, Reunion, South Africa, St. Helena, Caribbean - April 2018 to May 2019Read More >
Where in the world is the Picton Castle? Find her current position and track her voyages.Read More >