Captain's Log

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Day’s Run – 14 July 2019

Last day of the event at Cleveland and we had the most visitors across our deck: 2500. What a day!

Pilot booked for tomorrow morning 1000.  Some early morning fresh provisioning before departure.

Planning an anchorage at Port Huron.

Captain’s Comments:  As seems to be the theme of this summer’s voyage of tall ship celebrations – our ship and crew have been a part of another wonderful event. These multi-day ship festivals are such massive projects run almost entirely by volunteers. It is a significant effort on each port’s behalf to put these plans into motion, with so many moving parts (and I don’t just mean the ships themselves!). We enjoyed ourselves immensely, Cleveland – thank you to all!

Position: Alongside #30 Cleveland

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Day’s Run – 13 July 2019

Ship’s work:

Yesterday we sent down the spanker as it needs repair, so today we bend on the new spanker to replace it.

Spot painting.

Captain’s Comments: More today than yesterday: 2,425 visitors crossed our decks today.

Position: Alongside #30, Cleveland

Weather: Sunny and cooler with a moderate Northerly breeze. Forecast light winds turning Southeast. Yesterday’s forecast front did not eventuate.

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Day’s Run – 12 July 2019

Ship’s work

Send down spanker for repair

Commence Sea Never Dry repairs. Sea Never Dry is a traditional (yet colourful) dory that has sailed around the world with us many times. A lovely wooden dory built by Lunenburg’s Dory Shop.

Dry sail

Prepare Picton Castle for the public – our first day of an open ship for the tall ship event in Cleveland.

Open 1100-1800, and we had approximately 2000 visitors come across our deck.

Captain’s Comments: Another US Coastguard Inspection, all good.  Inspections take place in every port and we take each and every one very seriously.  Fox 8 news did a live broadcast with David Moss.

Position: Alongside #30 Cleveland

Weather: Hot, humid and sunny with a light Southwesterly breeze. Forecast weak cold front in the evening.

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Day’s Run – 10 July 2019

Today we departed Buffalo. The Pilot came aboard 0915 – a bit earlier than we anticipated but we were ready for him.

1020 and we had cleared Port of Buffalo. The Mates had the crew break into watches.

Ship’s work:

Spot painting.

Captain’s Comments: This will be an easy passage – one night across Lake Erie in calm conditions.

Position: 8 miles N of Cleveland under easy sail

Weather: partly cloudy & warm with a gentle West-Southwesterly. Earlier passage of moderate front with thunderstorm

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Day’s Run – 9 July 2019

Ship’s work:

Complete build and paint box for bladder tank

Continue work on ANN

Oil decks starboard

Several small painting jobs around the ship

Oil blocks

Tar seizings and ratline clove hitches starboard fore

Some tarring on quarter deck


Up & over with all new hands wanting to go aloft.

Continue ship familiarisation

New hands “Meet the captain”


Walk-through abandon ship, all hands


Heaving lines

Basic knots with new hands

Advanced knots with older hands

Captain’s Comments: All hands seem to be enjoying the workshops and their time on the ship. It’s hard work while we travel, it’s hard work at the festivals. Workshops and small jobs are a pleasant break.  Our time in Buffalo is nearly over, and we can’t say enough about the warm welcome this city has shown us. This has been another great event – a sign of things to come this summer. We have all enjoyed our stay here, including all of the thousands of people who came out to meet us.   Thank you Buffalo!

Position: Alongside Riverwalk Buffalo.

Weather: Warm and humid in the afternoon. Light North/Northeasterly winds

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Day’s Run – 8 July 2019

Ship’s work:

Paint buff and black

Oil decks port side

Bend fore T’Gallant

Mend spanker


Walk-through fire drill

Sail drills

Captain’s Comments:  Familiarisation of new hands continues. Having bid farewell to the other ships who were in Buffalo with us, the crew is happy to take a quiet day without the bustle of an event, but still close to the conveniences of shore life.  Pilots advised of Wednesday departure.

Position: Alongside Riverwalk, Buffalo

Weather: Sunny and warm with light and variable winds. Forecast steady

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The Welland Canal

Captain’s Log – The Welland Canal

One of our Facebook followers asked a few weeks ago when we were talking about the ports we’ll visit this summer in the Great Lakes, what we do about getting around Niagara Falls.  Going up or downriver there is certainly not an option.  As one of the Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls is an impressive sight, but definitely not navigable.  Here’s the easy answer: the Welland Canal. 

Running from Port Weller on Lake Ontario to Port Colborne on Lake Erie, the Welland Canal runs parallel to the Niagara River, to the west.  It’s made up of a series of eight locks that lift ships by a total of 9.1 metres between the two lakes.  The Welland Canal makes ship traffic between the two lakes possible, and indeed between the Atlantic Ocean and the inner reaches of the Great Lakes. 

On Tuesday, July 2nd, Picton Castle passed through the Welland Canal going upbound.  But the Welland Canal adventure began for us the night before.  On the evening of Monday, July 1st, Canada Day, after finishing with public deck tours at the Redpath Toronto Waterfront Festival, the crew got right to work making the ship ready.  To go through the locks, we need to make the ship skinnier than she usually is.  Everything needs to be inboard of the width of the hull, nothing can stick out beyond or else it risks getting scraped up the cement walls of the lock chambers.  The crew brought the boats onto the hatch, cockbilled the course yards (meaning to brace them as sharply as possible while horizontal, then drop one end and raise the other to get the yard further in), braced the rest of the yards up as sharp as possible, and swung the davits in parallel with the hull. 

With preparations done, it was time to get some sleep before casting off from Toronto at 0400 on Tuesday morning.  The plan was to make our way across Lake Ontario under motor to arrive in Port Weller for 0800 and start our transit up the Welland Canal from there.  Traffic in the Welland Canal was busy and there seemed to be a shortage of line handlers so we had a bit of a wait before we could start our climb up.  By mid-day, we had the approval to go ahead. 

Entering each lock chamber felt a bit surreal for the crew.  One of them showed me a photo he had sent home to his family showing his view of the Welland Canal – the photos just showed a cement wall. At each lock, Picton Castle motored slowly and carefully into the chamber, with cement walls about 30 metres high on each side and a big steel door ahead.  Kind of like motoring into a cave with no roof.  From there, we got a bow line and a stern line up to the top of the lock and secured ashore.  The steel door behind us closed to seal the lock chamber, making it like a bathtub, then when it was all secure, the lock began to fill with water, raising Picton Castle. 

As a spectator, it’s almost eerie to see the ship rise and reveal herself.  At the lowest water level, those on land could only see the t’gallant and royal yards.  As the water filled the lock chambers, more of the ship was slowly revealed – tops’l and course yards, then the top of the engine exhaust stack, the charthouse, then the quarterdeck and the foc’sle head, then finally the main deck and the hull. 

We were expecting the transit of the Welland Canal to take us about 12 hours, and that was a good estimate.  After a long and interesting day with all hands standing by, we finished late at night and went to anchor just off Port Colborne. This is the last time we’ll need to go through locks on this voyage until we come back to the Welland Canal in late August on our way downbound.     

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Day’s Run – 7 July 2019

Open to public 1100-1700, and 2460 crossed the deck. Another busy day!

Set up sailmaker’s bench ashore and repaired fore T’Gallant. 

Work on the wooden boat ANN continues: One more plank shaped, continue to close old fastening holes. Mark Baxter, our ship’s carpenter, is working hard and doing a great job.

Workshop: Lashings

Captain’s Comments: All new trainees have now joined for Leg 3, Buffalo to Cleveland to Bay City.  Commenced familiarisation with new hands, and Buffalo’s tall ship festival has come to an end. We will stay until Wednesday.

Position: Alongside Riverwalk, Buffalo

Weather: Partly cloudy and cooler than Saturday.

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Day’s Run – 6 July 2019

Open to public 1100-1700 and 2365 visitors got a tour of the ship.

We hosted another reception aboard Picton Castle this evening from 1900 to 2100. By all reports, it seems to have gone very well. 

Captains’ Dinner at Buffalo Yacht Club and Captain Lorenzen was the guest speaker. Cook Donald took some well-deserved time off and spent the night in a hotel.

Workshop: Yes! We managed to fit in a workshop today: Sending a t’gallant aloft (theory).

Captain’s Comments: Fiji was picked up blocks away from the ship and dropped off at the SPCA. Her tag only says FIJI and PICTON CASTLE, so the Vet at the SPCA googled Picton Castle and connected the dots. Fiji is back and made the local papers.   The plan is to depart Buffalo Wednesday.

Position: Alongside Riverwalk, Buffalo

Weather: Rain clearing; hot and muggy at first, cooling off.

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Day’s Run – 5 July 2019

It’s our first open-ship day of the event in Buffalo. Open to public from 1100 to 1700 with lots of long queues of people wanting to come to see the ship. In all, 2023 came across our deck today.

Fairy lights in the rigging for tonight’s Reception 1900 to 2200, mostly the guests stayed ashore with occasional deck tours.

Captain’s Comments: These open ship days are a lot of work and there is no time for workshops or ship’s work.

Position: Alongside Riverwalk, Buffalo.

Weather: Hot and humid, partly cloudy and calm   

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