Adventures in Paradise
The islands of the South Pacific have been luring sailors for centuries. The crew of the Picton Castle has heeded this call through five circumnavigation voyages. It's a voice as soft as a breeze through the coconut palms, as steady as the tradewinds, as warm as island hospitality and as mesmerizing as tropic waters. And lately we've been hearing it again.
Learn to Sail A Tall Ship
Join us on an epic voyage to tropical paradise. Applications are now being accepted for trainee crew positions, no sailing experience is necessary. On board, you will develop the skills of a seafarer through the process of helping sail the ship, under the guidance of our qualified professional crew. As a trainee crew member, you will stand watches, take your turn steering the ship and performing forward lookout, handle lines on deck to set and take in sails, help with ship's maintenance, assist in the galley and even climb aloft in the rigging (that last part is optional). Being a trainee crew member is primarily a seafaring, sail training experience, with the added benefit of international travel amongst some of the world's most amazing islands.
A Personal Introduction To The Real South Pacific
Having spent a significant amount of time in this part of the world, we have built relationships in these remote ports and can unlock the secrets of islands few people get the chance to visit. Whether it's learning and performing traditional Polynesian dance on Palmerston Atoll, joining a community fishing expedition at Pitcairn Island with descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers, sailing traditionally built West Indian sloops in Carriacou on our way through the Caribbean, or greeting school children when we deliver donated school supplies and books in our home port on the island of Rarotonga, Picton Castle can open doors not available to the regular fly-in or cruise ship tourist. Earning your way to these ports as a working crew member aboard a square rigged ship gives you an authentic experience like no other.
Sample the Caribbean
Sign aboard the ship in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Picton Castle's base of operations for the past 16 years. The voyage begins with thorough orientation and training before the ship leaves the dock, ensuring all crew members are prepared to set sail. Leaving Lunenburg, Picton Castle will sail south, cross the Gulf Stream into warmer waters, and continue on to the islands of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Carriacou, a small island that's part of the country of Grenada, will be the first landfall of this voyage. Check out the town of Hillsborough, Paradise Beach just outside of town, or venture across the island to Windward to see classic sloops being built. Staying in Grenada, we'll head for the country's main island of the same name (and home of our outstanding chief cook, Donald) for gorgeous waterfalls, roadside barbeques, rum distilleries and colourful public buses pumping reggae music.
The permanence of the colonial architecture in can be seen in the ruins of forts at Portobelo, Panama, once the greatest Spanish port in Central America. Our main reason for going to Panama is to make use of the Panama Canal, gateway to the Pacific. The canal transit itself is a fascinating experience, climbing 26 metres from the Caribbean Sea through a series of locks to Gatun Lake, and descending the same distance on the other side to enter the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Beckons
Our first Pacific passage will take us to the Galapagos Islands, described by Charles Darwin as "a little world within itself." Step over sea lions on the pier and swim with them at the beach. Another three weeks of Pacific sailing will bring us to Pitcairn Island, famous as the hideout of the mutineers on the Bounty and still populated by their descendants. Pitcairn holds an extra special place in the hearts of Picton Castle crew who have visited there on the ship's five around the world voyages because of the fast and firm friendships made on the island. With neither hotels nor restaurants in regular operation on the island, we are welcomed into peoples' homes, teased pleasantly and heartily, and fed until we are stuffed.
From Pitcairn we'll sail into French Polynesia, starting our exploration at the island of Mangareva in the Gambier Islands group. Hike inland to see sheer rock cliffs and lush green vegetation, summiting Mount Duff foran incredible view of the ship at anchor in the lagoon. We'll sail to Hao and then Takaroa in the Tuamotus, both of which are atolls or low islands of coral that encircle a reef, to enjoy white sand beaches, coconut palm trees and black pearl farms. Leg 1 will end in legendary Tahiti, which is practically synonymous with tropical paradise. Part of the Society Islands, and the largest island in French Polynesia, the island of Tahiti, and specifically the city of Papeete, is the economic, political and cultural centre of French Polynesia. Be sure to check out the market near the wharf with local fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, and handicrafts, served alongside excellent French coffee and baked goods.
Leg 2 begins with a short sail from Tahiti to Moorea, just eight nautical miles away. Moorea is where people go when they leave Papeete to get away from the city and relax. While you could find any kind of tour or sight seeing activity you might want, a big part of Moorea's attractiveness is the beaches and lagoon which surround it, perfect for relaxing on a day off duty. We'll stay in the Society Islands for a visit to Huahine, which you will find quiet and peaceful after the excitement of Tahiti and Moorea, with the same stunningly beautiful scenery and nothing to do ashore but explore. Our last stop in French Polynesia is exotic Bora Bora, also in the Society Islands. Find evidence of the US military supply base that was in full operation here in World War II.
Small boat expeditions will also be a priority in the Society Islands. Under the guidance of the professional crew, sail our fleet of small boats through the lagoon to surrounding islands, camp out overnight and sail back to the ship the next day. Small boat handling is a big part of Picton Castle's training program, giving you the opportunity for added responsibility and immediate feedback.
Homecoming in Rarotonga
Leaving French Polynesia, we'll sail to the Cook Islands. Despite the fact that all 15 islands together make up only 240 square kilometres of land, the Cook Islands cover 1.8 million square kilometres of ocean. Sailing first to the Southern group of islands, we'll start at Aitutaki, the second most populated island in the country. Familiar to some as the setting for "Survivor: Cook Islands," Aitutaki is also home to the oldest church in the Cook Islands and a gorgeous lagoon. Up next is a homecoming for Picton Castle, sailing in to the port of Avatiu on the island of Rarotonga. It's the name that's painted on her transom, and it's a real place where we always feel warmly welcomed by friends of all ages. This will be a short stay at home, just long enough to go for a swim at Muri Beach, grab a cold drink at Trader Jack's and load some cargo bound for the outer islands.
Cargo Carrying Connection
On previous adventures in the South Pacific, Picton Castle has often brought cargo along, whether that's things to sell or trade, donated school supplies to give away, or general goods that need to get from one island to another. Being the ship that brings things to these remote places opens doors even wider and adds a deeper dimension to the voyage, giving crew the added experience of shipboard cargo handling and a better understanding of the challenges daily life presents for people who don't have all the modern conveniences of the Western world.
Sway To Polynesian Rhythms
Sail to Penhryn in the Northern group of the Cook Islands, where fabulous rito hats are woven by hand from coconut leaves that have been stripped, boiled and dried to create flat white fibre, then on to Manihiki, best known in the Cooks for its black pearl farms in the lagoon (and naturally for its carvers of pearl shell as well). Return to the Southern group to Palmerston Atoll, a favourite and most educational port on Picton Castle's previous South Pacific voyages where we've been shown extremely generous hospitality and taught the sometimes delicate, sometimes explosive moves of traditional Polynesian dance.
From there it's on to Samoa, an independent country not to be confused with American Samoa. Samoa has an interesting history of colonial rule, with strong Polynesian culture continuing throughout. Some of the mostinteresting and unique tattoos we've seen use traditional Samoan designs and techniques. Sail then to Tonga, dropping anchor first at the excellent harbour at Vava'u in the northern part of the country. Tonga is different than all South Pacific countries in that it's a kingdom and has never lost its indigenous monarchial system. We'll continue to explore the kingdom at Ha'apai, the central group of islands in Tonga, then on to Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga on the island of Tongatapu in the southern group of islands.
Returning to the Cook Islands, we will visit two more of the Southern group islands, starting with Mangaia, known for its beautiful shell 'eis - necklaces made by stringing together the shells of a tiny yellow snail. At the island of Atiu, it's possible we could be the only visitors, all the better for cave exploration, bird watching and jungle hiking. Rarotonga will be the only island on this voyage we'll visit twice, this time to wrap up the voyage in our home port of Avatiu. With a weekly direct flight to Los Angeles and daily flights to New Zealand, Rarotonga is easily accessible.
Itinerary, South Pacific Voyage 2012-2013
|Leg 1||Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada||October 1, 2012|
|Mangareva, French Polynesia|
|Hao, Tuamotus, French Polynesia|
|Takaroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia|
|Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia||February 1, 2013|
|Leg 2||Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia||February 1, 2013|
|Moorea, French Polynesia|
|Huahine, French Polynesia|
|Bora Bora, French Polynesia|
|Aitutaki, Cook Islands|
|Rarotonga, Cook Islands|
|Penhryn, Cook Islands|
|Manihiki, Cook Islands|
|Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands|
|Mangaia, Cook Islands|
|Atiu, Cook Islands|
|Rarotonga, Cook Islands||May 15, 2013|
Who Can Sail
If you're young or young at heart, ready for an adventure and willing to embrace life at sea, this voyage may be for you. No sailing experience is necessary, just the desire to learn and be part of the crew. This voyage depends on the passion and dedication of the crew to the ship and to each other.
All applicants should be in good health. We will require a note from your doctor that assures us of that and says you are able to do moderate to strenuous physical activity. A valid passport is essential. All applicants will be subject to a personal interview before being accepted.
Prices for the voyage 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.
Become a crew member. Sail the Cook Islands. Experience tropical paradise. June, July & August 2013.Read More >
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