Captain's Log

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Day’s Run 12 February 2019

As of this writing, the Picton Castle is six miles south of Cape Agulhas, the most southern tip of Africa. Many assume this southern tip is the Cape of Good Hope, but it ain’t so; Cape Agulhas has that claim. Nothing between us and Antarctica but increasingly cold ocean. And fish and whales and ships…
Beautiful sunny day here. We were surrounded by small dolphin for a spell this morning. Then, later on, we saw a huge massive swarm of them fishing together. A number of fishing trawlers about. And plenty of ships over 1,000 feet long headed for Singapore or Brazil passing us both ways. The gang is excited about getting into Cape Town, and barring the unforeseen we will get into port tomorrow to tie up at Berth “A” at Duncan Basin, not far from the V&A Waterfront which is evidently full of Navy ships right now.

The Cape of Good Hope is about 70 miles ahead to the northwest. An interesting place to visit with all the wild zebras, ostrich and baboons. As well as the crashing surf of the South Atlantic Ocean.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 12, 2019

Noon Position: 34-56’S x 019° 56’E

Course + Speed: WNW at 3 knots

Wind direction + Force: light Southerlies

Swell Height + Direction: small southerly swell

Weather: fair and clear

Day’s Run: 172 nautical miles

Distance to Port: about 130 nautical miles

Voyage: 19,895 nautical miles

Sails Set: all plain sail

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Day’s Run 11 February 2019

Steaming along here making westing about 60 nautical miles south of Knysna, RSA (Republic of South Africa) which is on the bottom of South Africa and has great oysters. Not much wind but plenty ships round the “Cape of Storms” sailing east and west. And huge ones too. Plenty of bulk carriers and tankers over 1,000 feet long (300 meters+). Been damp all night but not bad. Making good time even if it is using up fuel.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 11, 2019

Noon Position: 35-03’S x 023° 16’E

Course + Speed: west at 7 knots

Wind direction + Force: light easterlies

Swell Height + Direction: small southerly swell

Weather: cool, overcast, good visibility

Day’s Run: 237 nautical miles, yep, that’s right folks

Distance to Port: about 320 miles

Voyage: 19,723 miles

Sails Set: none

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Day’s Run – 10 February 2019

Making some time here in this Agulhas Current. Making 11 knots. That’s some fast for this ol’ barko. Lots of ships to be seen headed for the Cape or away. Huge 1,200 foot long tankers with almost 200 foot beams. You could set this ship on deck athwartships and no bits would hang over the sides. We have seen albatross, sharks and whales still. Seas and sky are gray. Swells are less but remain confused. In a few hours when due south of Cape Recife we will lose this current and slow down plenty. We shall enjoy it while it lasts. In international news, ship’s boy Dawson lost his first tooth. A fine chicken curry today for lunch made by Ted and his gang.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Sun Feb 10, 2019

Noon Position: 33-49’S x 027° 32’E

Course + Speed: 250 T at 11 knots

Wind direction + Force: SW at Force 5

Swell Height + Direction: moderate SW 2-4 metre swell

Weather: cool, overcast, rainy, visibility under 5 miles

Day’s Run: 220 nautical miles

Distance to Port: about 500 nautical miles

Voyage: 19,247 miles

Sails Set: lower topsails, fore topmast staysail, main topmast staysail, spanker, main engine

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Day’s Run – 9 February 2019

Closed with coast of South Africa about midnight. Winds went from 25 to 30 knots out of the north to 10 to 20 knots out of the south west around about the same time in short order. Got into some lumpy seas. Hove to. About 0800 this morning got going again, conditions moderated near the coast about 8 nautical miles off. Braced back and forth. A good sailor gang we have to do all that. We have seen sharks today and whales and a big oil-rig ship called GPO AMETHYST  bound for the Gulf of Mexico, she got some kinda massive rig in her. Now down the coast looking to a happy rounding. It smells like Donald is cooking steaks.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Sat Feb 9, 2019

Noon Position: 31-07’S x 030° 16’E

Course + Speed: 220 T at 8.5 knots

Wind direction + Force: light SEly’s

Swell Height + Direction: large 2-5 metre swell, no white caps

Weather: hot, overcast

Day’s Run: 140 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 880 nautical miles

Voyage: 19,227 nautical miles

Sails Set: none

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Blowin’ Hard

Here we are about 60 nautical miles off the coast of South Africa near Durban. Picton Castle is under shortened sail and it’s blowing hard. Sheets are some taut. Not quite a gale but 30 knots and more sustained wind than we have seen in our flying fish sailing over the last nine months since casting off from the French Quarter in New Lawrence (this is six-year-old Dawson for New Orleans). Mostly soft tradewinds we have had, sometime fresh trades but not 30 knots worth.

Had a few musters to get the idea across that 30 knots sustained is a lot different than 15 to 20. When it blows like this as crew you need to think differently. In addition to extra lashings here and there, double griped this and that, a seaman has to walk differently, look aloft differently, pay attention differently. And stack dirty dishes in the scullery differently. Or not, and just let them capsize and come crashing down. We practised rigged all our “keep ’em aboard” nets. Rigged up the deck grablines. Practised closing all water tight apertures like portholes and skylights and watertight doors. The full gamut. Had to talk about steering. It can be hard steering in these conditions, but steer well we must. Now to get heavy winds experience, well, that’s happening right now, today.

The Mates, Erin, Dirk, and Corey, are doing an outstanding job of chasing down the small details that make for things to be mo’ bettah: cleared freeing ports, getting a gasket off a lower topsail sheet, shutting watertight doors in plenty of time, steering to get the feel of the ship.

And all that said, it is quite a beautiful day out here along the coast of Africa, sailing a great ship bound for the Cape of Good Hope and beyond.

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Day’s Run – 8 February 2019

Blowing pretty hard. We are 65 nautical miles off the coast. Under shortened sail. Expect it to blow a bit more before it lays down, maybe a bit over 30 knots. The gang is well briefed. Port and starboard watertight doors are shut on the cabin trunk. Everything pretty well snugged down. Double gaskets on t’gallants and royals and so on. Pretty day though, sunny with blue skies. Still have flying fish soaring about. Closing with coast of South Africa.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 8th, 2019

Noon Position: 29-49’S x 032° 33’E

Course + Speed: 240 T at 7.5 knots

Wind direction + Force: NNEly at Force 6-7

Swell Height + Direction: 2-4 metre swell, white caps everywhere, spray and foam

Weather: fair and partly cloudy

Day’s Run: 140 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 880 nautical miles

Sails Set: upper topsails, fore sail, fore topmast stays’l, main topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 7 February 2019

Set sail yesterday afternoon with wind making up out of the South with promises to back and fair. Seas a bit lumpy. Extra lashings going on here and there. Closing with the coast near Durban about 200 miles to the west. Supposed to blow strong out of the NE tomorrow. Cloudy. All good. Portholes getting closed.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 7th, 2019

Noon Position: 29-04’S x 035° 02’E

Course + Speed: 265 T at 6.7 knots

Wind direction + Force: SSEly at Force 5-6

Swell Height + Direction: small SW swell

Weather: cloudy

Day’s Run: 105 miles

Distance to Port: 1000 miles

Sails Set: headsails, main topmast stays’l, topsails, t’gallants, courses

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Day’s Run – 6 February 2019

Making good time under power. Wind has filled in some from the SW, so we have fore and aft sails set. Wind might come back enough to set squares later, we will see. Meantime, no dilly-dallying on our way to the Cape.
Workshop today will be “ship types and how to identify them”. We saw almost no ships across the South Pacific but we are seeing plenty of ships now: tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, container ships, long-line fishing boats. We will see more ships when we get close to the coast, so this is a good time for this. Dirk will lead this session.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Wed Feb 6th, 2019

Noon Position: 29-42’S x 036° 36’E

Course + Speed: 275 T at 7 knots

Wind direction + Force: SWly at Force 4

Swell Height + Direction: small SW swell

Weather: sunny and clear

Day’s Run: 165 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 1100 nautical miles

Voyage: 18,877 nautical miles

Sails Set: heads’ls, main topmast stays’l, t’gallant stays’l, spanker

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Day’s Run – 5 February 2019

The day came in calm so we fired up the main engine. Early we had 3-knot fair current despite the calm. No seas to speak of. Sunny and clear. Tammy and John making sails on the hatch. A new spanker and a new t’gallant almost done. Getting our spare spar timber out of where it has been lashed in the scuppers since Lunenburg. Need to dry it out after many months of frequent saltwater baths. Olde time sailing ships always carried timbers for spare spars. A good idea too.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 5th, 2019

Noon Position: 28-54’S x 039° 54’E

Course + Speed: 260 T at 7 knots

Wind direction + Force: SEly at Force 1

Swell Height + Direction: small swell, calm seas

Weather: sunny and clear

Day’s Run: 120 miles

Distance to Port: 1265 miles

Voyage: 18,582 miles

Sails Set: none

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Day’s Run – 4 February 2019

Nice sailing day at sea. Almost halfway across the Mozambique Channel. We had to send down the main royal yard. It cracked while bracing. The Mate led the gang of Jack and Anders aloft in a fine piece of seamanship getting that yard down the proper way. We are going to make a new one out of our spare timbers. Later we had a group discussion on our passage planning and weather we are expecting.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Monday Feb 4th, 2019

Noon Position: 28-06’S x 042° 06.4’E

Course + Speed: W x N + 5 kts

Wind direction + Force: SEly + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2-3m + S by W

Weather: sunny and clear

Day’s Run: 120 miles

Distance to Port: 1265 miles

Voyage: 18,582 miles

Sails Set: all sail except spanker, main royal, fore topmast stays’l and flying jib

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