Captain's Log

Archive for May, 2007

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Meet the Crew IV

Erin, Deckhand


Erin, a fiercely proud resident of Cape Breton Island, sailed on the fourth world voyage as a trainee and Education Officer, chronicling the ’round the world voyage for teachers, students, home-school families and armchair sailors alike on the popular WorldWise and Mystic Seaport Museum websites. She can’t seem to stay away from the Picton Castle, returning as a volunteer deckhand just a month and a half after the end of the world voyage to finish the 2006 tall ship events and to down-rig the ship in late September. She returned to the Picton Castle in Nevis in early February to assist with the winter training schedule and to participate in the filming of the new CBS series “Pirate Master”. Erin’s personality is ten feet tall, twice her actual height. View her voyage logs at

Jack, Deckhand


Jack sailed as a trainee on the Picton Castle‘s fourth world voyage and stayed on as a deckhand for the first half of the 2006 summer voyage to the Great Lakes. When not developing his seafaring skills aboard our barque, Jack exploits his advanced diving and downhill skiing skills, which he honed while growing up in New Hampshire and Florida. Jack returned to the Picton Castle in Dominica in March, having used his time away from the ship to study and earn his SCUBA diving instructor’s certificate. Much to his mother’s horror and his shipmate’s delight, Jack has formed a large tattoo collection, which he has added to since he was last aboard. The Captain says that we do not encourage all this tattoo business but they do it anyway, and many many crew DO NOT get tattoo…

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Charleston Tall Ships I

It’s Tall Ship time. The Picton Castle came sliding in from Martinique to the sea-buoy and Pilot Station off Charleston right on time to fall in line with the other ships. We were all to make a grand entrance into Charleston Harbour; a parade of Tall Ships majestically making their way into this famous haven. Spectator boats, Coast Guard, tugs, pilot boats, yachts, Charleston to Bermuda racers, helicopters, bands and windsurfers in admiring attendance. It didn’t happen. There was a forest fire in Georgia making enough smoke to reduce visibility to less than ½ mile for hundreds of miles around and burning the eyes to boot. But we got in and alongside, and after clearing in with Customs & Immigration, and having our US Coast Guard inspection (flying colours), we opened the ship up to the public for this Maritime Festival and Tall Ship weekend.

The organizers were expecting 50,000 visitors; 80,000 showed up. So there we were: The Picton Castle, the Barque Taragini (the Indian Navy Sail Training Ship), The Brig Prince William (from England), and the Barque Gloria (the Columbian Naval Sail Training Ship) were all open to the public on the deep-water pier. The Schooners Pride Of Baltimore II, Virginia and the just-launched (and very beautiful) Spirit Of South Carolina were here, too, and showed us all what three magnificent schooners look like.

The gangways were put out, certain areas roped off, training and orientation done for our crew (and excellent volunteer docents) on safe open-ship operations, and a couple of drills, and we opened the ship to the crowds of keen visitors on the dock waiting to get aboard. The crew took turns manning the ship.

The liberty watch wandered the cobblestone streets of this fair “Low Country” southern city soaking up the rich atmosphere of history that permeates the senses hereabouts.

The buzz is in on the street (and wharf) that our ship is the “Pirate Master” ship. We figure that Picton Castle is the hands-down star of the show. The excitement is building! We can’t wait to see the show, on Thursday, May 31, at 8:00 PM (ET) on CBS; check it out!

Picton Castle at Charleston
Ships in haze.
Tall ships line the pier.
View from the royal yard

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Meet The Crew III

Mary Anne, Deckhand

A native of Pictou, NS, Mary Anne joined the Picton Castle in November of 2006 where she signed on as a trainee for the entire winter sailing sail training schedule in the Caribbean. A retired nurse and the daughter of a professional seaman who also sailed extensively in commercial square-riggers out of Nova Scotia, Mary Anne came aboard prepared to learn the ropes of traditional square-rig sailing for herself. She has quickly become a favourite shipmate, caring for us better than we can care for ourselves and continually keeping us laughing with her playful sense of humour. She especially enjoys teasing Donald our cook. Mary Anne has traveled the world and accomplished a long list of adventures and she has decided that her next challenge is to climb a mountain in South America probably by this time next year.

Katie, Deckhand

Katie sailed in the Picton Castle for two weeks in the summer of 2006 from Chicago to Port Huron, with a stop in Beaver Island. Katie is a member of a seasonal sail racing team (she will rejoin them for a short time this summer) and like our shipmate Ben, she had originally signed up to attend Picton Castle‘s Bosun School this winter. When the program was postponed we invited her to sail with us in the Caribbean, and without hesitation she left her home in chilly Chicago to join the ship in Dominica in February. She is adorned with countless eye-catching tattoos and therefore blends in nicely among the crew. To compliment her taste in body art, Katie is quickly honing her seafaring skills and in just these few short months she may have already convinced herself that there may not be life outside of the Picton Castle. When not playing in tar, Katie is a fantastically creative cook and is often nominated to take charge in the galley on Donald’s day off.

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Meet The Crew II

Kelly, Deckhand

A long way from her hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Kelly sailed in the Picton Castle for a week in the summer of 2006 from Port Huron, through the Welland Canal to Toronto. She returned to the ship in November, having signed on as a trainee for the entire winter voyage in the Caribbean. Kelly looks on her Picton Castle experience as training for what she hopes will be a career at sea. Kelly’s nearly complete ditty bag will not be mistaken for anyone else’s as it features an original oil pastel drawing on the canvas.

Bronwen, Deckhand

Bronwen joined the Picton Castle in March on the island of Dominica. Having visited the ship many times, most notably to live aboard for three weeks in Cape Town, South Africa in March 2006, she is a familiar face among our crew. Already a master at the daily routine of life aboard, Bronwen has developed the necessary seafaring skills with ease and grace. Bronwen is a wonderful shipmate because she is willing to learn at every turn, has a killer sense of humour, and always puts the needs of the ship and her crew before her own.

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South Carolina, Here We Come!

Location: 31° 38.8’N / 079° 40.2’W
Water Temp: 24.9°C; Air Temp: 28°C

It has turned out to be a beautiful sunny and hot day aboard the Picton Castle. The 12-4 watch is busy rust-busting and corrosealing the port anchor chain (much to the dismay of the crew trying to sleep directly below in the forecastle) and earlier, our 8-12 watch finished touching up paint jobs here and there. We are preparing for the onslaught of visitors at Charleston, our first port of call in this summer’s tall ship events, and we want to look our best! We are only 50 nm away from our Way Point at the Charleston Harbour Channel entrance. We’ve made great time on this Atlantic passage; we’ve not gone less than 7 knots in the past 48 hours. Unfortunately the winds have not been favourable, so we’ve motored/ motor-sailed the entire time.

Our ordered course is N ½ E and we’ve experienced light airs (Force 0-1; sea like mirror/ small ripples and scales) all morning which looks funny with a 3-4 ft swell on. We experienced a brief weather system that we had been expecting. I guess you could say it stole our wind and with it our hopes of sailing the last day or so to Charleston.

When the 8-12 watch took the deck on the evening of the 14th, a fresh breeze had piped up since we were on deck. The swell was picking up with the wind and before our watch was relieved at 0000 (midnight) we were experiencing force 6-7 breezes (strong breeze- moderate gale—winds 22-33 knots; large waves, seas heaped up, scud from whitecaps, foam streaks downwind), feeling at times like force 8. The swells built to around 6-8 ft before diminishing. There were only two brief squalls that night, less than 5 min each, and the nightly lightning show remained in the distance. Throughout the wind and swell, a bright starlit sky kept the spookiness away.

When the wind and swell began to pick up at the beginning of our watch, Finn (NS), Logan (NS), and John (Virginia), all former World Voyagers, pitched in and helped me to rig the man ropes fore and aft along the length of the windward side of the quarterdeck and both windward and lee sides of the main deck. These are thick lengths of manila line that we use to help us maintain our balance in swelly seas. From time to time a wave would break over the rail, and one had mine and Finn’s name on it while we were lashing the manrope near the salon scuttle. We got soaked straight through and we nearly lost all the strain we had taken up because we were taken in a fit of laughter. We closed hatches and portholes to keep the spray from getting inside the ship, where things were warmer and drier than they were on deck. Lynsey (Ontario), Logan, and Andrea (Ohio) shared the unhappy luck of taking the same wave in all three of their portholes at the same time and there was a procession to the stack house where they hung their sheets and mattresses to dry in the heat rising from the engine room below. We had our forward lookout relocate to the bridge, where it was significantly drier and less of a roller-coaster ride than on the foc’sle head. For ease and safety we had our watches perform ship check in pairs for the remainder of the night. John and I carried the puppies’ house aft to the Aloha Deck so they could sleep somewhere dry and John and Lynsey lashed them soundly to the Starboard veggie locker. They were much happier there than they had been under the forward fife rail where the sea spray got them from time to time. Poor little foxy was seasick and especially thankful. Aside from Foxy, only three or four of our crew were actually seasick well into yesterday (the wind diminished but the swell remained).

Once the crew became accustomed to the new routine and moving safely about the decks, there was still the problem of trying to keep pots of water and food on the stove. We have fiddles to hold pots in place, but that does nothing to stop the liquid contents from sloshing straight out of the pot. I managed to get hot water and coffee ready for the oncoming night watches, but Donald had a rougher go of it the next day (May 15th). We had hot homemade beans and pasta for lunch and for dinner last night a lovely pot of soup with whole wheat and cornflower dumplings and brownies. Nothing too fancy, but we ate well despite Donald’s galley swaying out from under him every few minutes.

Sleeping in any sort of real swell can be difficult. I was one of the lucky ones because I live in the port after cabin and the ship was braced up sharp on a starboard tack, which meant that in the swells, I was being pushed deep into my bunk, and was even pressed against the bulwarks. Those who sleep on the starboard side have spent much of the past two nights with their feet or knees braced up against the lee boards to keep themselves nestled in their racks. Katie (Chicago), who sleeps in a thwart-ships bunk in the foc’sle, claims she slept with most of her weight resting on her feet as if she were standing. Yesterday and even today some crew were still groggy from interrupted sleep.

There is lots of excitement aboard surrounding our arrival in Charleston. The engineers are cleaning the engine room from top to bottom. Taking full advantage of our shipmates’ cleaning out bunks and sea chests, they’ve requested donations of old work clothes for engine room rags. We’ve also had the crew sign the declaration form in the Chart House. This is a form that indicates to US Customs the types of personal belongings each crew member has in their possession. A number of the crew had their hair cut on Sunday so they would look neat and tidy in port or if they expect to be reunited with family and friends. This evening the Captain has organized one last “End of Passage” Marlinspike party. I have no idea if he expects this one to top last Sunday’s Marlinspike which featured dancing on the cargo hatch well into the 8-12 night watch! The puppies will get a bath tomorrow and Chibley has been primping and preening for weeks. The ship looks pretty good inside and out and we’re ready to show off her newly blackened hull. Mostly we’re excited for fresh fruit and vegetables, Southern hospitality and fried chicken! South Carolina, here we come!

Louie and Foxy have joined us on Picton Castle
Picton Castle en route to Charleston

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East of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas

Bound from: Sandy Cay, BVIs, towards Charleston, SC

Between the hours of 1800-1900 (6-7 PM) last evening the Picton Castle motored past her way point, San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. This is interesting for two reasons: First, the “way point” is a position on a chart that the navigator chooses to steer towards while planning a route bound from one place towards another. There can be several way points throughout a passage; it is not always an island as in this case, but the way point is usually in relation to a bearing, such as off a point of land or some other distinctive feature. Routing is fascinating, and I look forward to the workshops that are hosted aboard the ship. Second, San Salvador Island is what most historians agree is the first western land mass that Christopher Columbus discovered in his era of exploration. I do not know nearly enough about San Salvador’s historical record other than that piece of trivia, but it leaves an impression to pass so close to where history was made.

The sky the past two nights has been lit up all around us by electrical storms 30 or more nautical miles away. They are too far away to hear the thunder or the crack of lightning, but the light show is tremendous! To the West there was chain lightning tearing a path through the towering cumulous clouds, its white hot fire reaching up into the atmosphere and not down, as I am accustomed to seeing over land. There were a few bolts, however, that fiercely stabbed towards the sea. To the North there was a different storm altogether. The clouds were towering cumulous with moderate vertical extent, but instead of violent white streaks and explosions of light, the lightning rolled horizontally through the cloud making its way from one end to the other. The cloud’s shape was clearly defined by shifting colours of golden yellow and pink that in the dark of night gives the illusion of watching it through the lens of a very old movie camera.

Picture it: You are standing on the highest deck of a slow-moving ship as it slips through the water heading NW. You are leaning against the port taff-rail with your arms folded and even your ankles are crossed as you brace yourself against the gentle swell. Venus is the only source of real light because even the bright stars are too far away. Your gaze towards the horizon is interrupted by the brilliant light explosions of a not-too-distant electrical storm, but a storm distant enough that you can enjoy it. For ten, twenty, even thirty minutes you watch the storm that shows no sign of letting up and continually elicits “oohs” and “aahs” from your shipmates who are watching with you. Something then catches your eye that you did not notice before because your gaze was focused so intently upward. At first you believe it is the reflection of the lightning on the water’s surface, but when the next flash comes there is no reflection, so you watch the water more carefully to see if it happens again. The next vivid light display is suddenly echoed on the water’s surface, but a second too late to have been a reflection. It dawns on you now that it is the random blaze and sparkle of yellow, pink and blue-hued phosphorescence that has been churned up in the ship’s wake that has caught your eye. Alert, you watch the syncopation of flashing lights above and below and imagine they are playing variations of one another’s tune. Amused and a bit stunned by the effect of this display you have images of Mickey Mouse in a wizard’s costume conducting the waves and lightning to crashing classical music á la Disney’s “Fantasia.” You are still thinking about it when you turn in for bed.

Today the air is significantly lighter, so much so between breakfast and lunch that our weather log reads “light air” rather than the direction and force. The sea is not like the mirror of a flat calm, but there are just tiny breeze ripples like those you would expect to see on a lake. We are motoring along at 6.2 knots, and the compass course is NW ½ N. The sky is hazy and bright and the thermometer reads about 32°C. Walking barefoot on the freshly oiled decks is for daredevils only—there are no heroes in fire walking. Even Chibley does the hot-potato trot with all four paws when she scoots from one living space to the next trying to avoid the puppies and find a cool spot to sleep (usually Johanna’s bunk).

It is a Sunday at sea. That means there is no ship’s work but the watches still take their turn being alert and on deck, carrying on with the same helm and lookout rotations. Trainee David (from Texas) cannot stand being idle, so he took on the task of polishing the brass on the ship’s binnacle. He scrubbed that brass for four hours straight starting with Vim cleaner and following up with Brasso, a polishing agent. Not entirely satisfied with the nearly perfect results, he’s going to give it another go before we reach Charleston.

David also gave me an hour long knife-sharpening seminar after lunch today. I’ve kept my knife sharp enough, but I find I have to sharpen it more than I would like, and I don’t like to make time to sharpen it. This reluctance to keep my blade in top shape is a source of private shame for me. A sailor without a knife is generally useless, and a sailor with a dull knife is just as bad. David took charge and had me demonstrate the technique I’ve been using these past two years and he immediately pointed out that I was using too much pressure and my angle was too high, among other heinous scars I’d left on my otherwise sturdy blade. Throughout the next hour David showed me how to file my knife and to slowly graduate from a rough stone to a smoother one. When we reached the stage where we tried to shave patches of our arms with the blade, he led me below to the Main Salon, where he lives with 14 other people. He opened up his shaving kit and pulled out two more sharpening stones. David uses a straight razor to shave, not “those cheap disposable things.” He allowed me to run my hand along the smooth, almost polished looking surfaces of his razor stones and went to work honing the edge of my already sharp knife. I was tickled to get this special treatment, and he was as excited to share his knowledge with me as I was to be his student. We finished the seminar with laughter as we plucked hairs from our heads and swiped at them with the blades of my knife and his straight razor. His razor won every time, but he claims my knife is sharp enough to perform heart surgery. I’ll have to ask Doc Jeremy (our Medical Officer and a retired heart surgeon) what he thinks about that.

This afternoon there is a “Big, Big, Big! Water fight” taking place on deck. The watch has gone around closing watertight doors and dogging shut portholes. The last I saw was Jack (deckhand from Florida / New Hampshire) leading out our starboard fire hose. This is going to be a big water fight. When everything gets dried up and put away it will soon be time for our Sunday Marlinspike party. Many of those aboard the ship at this time have never heard of our Marlinspikes, but they’ve been informed to dress appropriately for tonight’s theme: “Goodbye, Tropics! Hello Charleston!” I expect the excitement will continue well into the night. Nadja (deckhand, Spain) has been working all afternoon to compile all the right music onto her iPod, and rumour has it we should be able to see Florida (or at least the glow of lights) maybe even as early as sometime tonight. I’ll check the chart to see when we are parallel to Jack’s house. For the life of me I cannot imagine why more people do not go to sea.

Evening at sea
Water fight!

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The Best of Both Worlds

Bound from: Sandy Cay, BVIs; Towards: Charleston, SC

Location: 21° 52.906’N / 71° 19.996’W

This afternoon the Picton Castle is cruising along at a comfortable 7.2 knots of speed. The breeze is a gentle force 3 and the swells are coming from ESE at a height no greater than 2-3 ft. We are braced on a slight port tack and are heading almost directly downwind; our course is NW and the wind is coming from ESE. Square-riggers do not do a great job of sailing dead downwind so we are combining our sails with the main engine to make up what would be lost time if we remained under sail alone. We really have no perspective of how fast we are going or what sort of distance we are covering unless you are responsible for plotting the ship’s position each hour. From deck it looks and feels like we are cutting through the ocean at a nice clip, but we’ve been overtaken by enormous cruise ships twice in the past three days. They travel at rates of speed somewhere around 15-20 knots.

The other night we had a cruise ship overtake us on our starboard side and they remained at a distance of about a mile. We casually acknowledged them amongst ourselves while we ate our dinner on the Aloha Deck, and as they blew past us at a rate of speed that is nothing short of remarkable for a vessel as awkward and mammoth as a cruise ship, I couldn’t help but feel dwarfed and somehow inferior because we were going as fast as we could, and that was no match. I felt myself getting annoyed and when my little internal rant had passed, Donald (our cook from Grenada) pointed out the hundreds of camera flashes that were erupting from all levels of the cruise ship’s decks that faced us. It felt a little bit like we were rare exotic animals and it was feeding time at the zoo, but on the other hand maybe it just implied that not just the Picton Castle crew think that we are the coolest ship … but their ship has chips and goes at warp speed.

So here we are merrily rolling along, happy as clams at low tide in our barque. Around 10 AM we sailed past Grand Turks Island (UK) and now we are just NE of Caicos Islands (UK). Northwest of us lie the Bahamas. It is getting to be summer now and even though we are in the North Atlantic, it was 36°C in the chart house by noon today. Everyone’s sunscreen basically melted off and promptly ran directly into their eyes. By some miracle a few rain clouds rolled in and blotted out the white hot sun and blue reflective sky and it rained long enough for everyone to recover to their former pre-meltdown selves. Night is cool enough to need a shirt with sleeves and I feel more refreshed and energized when I turn in for bed at midnight than I do after having slept all night and then work until noon.

I had the 10-11AM trick on helm this morning and while I was concentrating on getting the ship back on my ordered course, I did not notice Captain Moreland approach until he was standing before me. He pointed to a streak in the sky and asked me what I thought it was. I guessed it was the air stream left behind from a jet that must have flown over. “Erin, have you ever seen a jet leave a trail that large?” No, I hadn’t. He gestured to some far-away land a few points off the port bow. “That is Cape Canaveral,” he said, tracing his finger in the air along the path the aircraft had made. “A rocket launch?” I asked, “When did that happen?” Captain shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sometime this morning.” Then he walked forward and got Bosun Lynsey to come away from whatever chore had brought her into the chart house and he showed her the rocket’s trail. It was the highlight of my morning: here I was, standing at the helm of a square-rigged ship that is as traditional and authentic as a ship 100 years her senior, steering a course that led us directly under the trail of a rocket’s path into outer space. It’s pretty surreal when you think about it.

Despite the heat our crew happily went about checking off the projects that appeared on Bosun Lynsey’s list of ship’s work for today. Before their watch, Katie and Nadja were crowded together over the starboard aft table in the main salon. Katie (Chicago) was showing Nadja (Spain) how to use the ship’s sewing machine so that Nadja could take in a new batik dress that she had bought in Dominica. Natasha (Alberta), Brownwen (NS) and I (NS) were sharing a bag of letter stencils and were busy labelling things on the ship that had recently received a fresh coat of paint. I labeled the paint slops barrel and Brownwen stenciled a warning inside the bow of the skiff indicating its max capacity is 10 persons. When our watch was stood down for lunch, Natasha had just begun stenciling the ship’s name and port of registration on the Monomoy. Katie and Jack (Florida) were busy preparing to paint a second coat of buff on the main mast. As Jack rigged the bosun’s chair on a gantline, Katie perched herself on a craneline to reach some spots while she had time to spare. The puppies were busy burying their bones underneath coils that had been capsized on deck for sail handling. They really enjoy having the ship for a playground. They chase one another up and down the decks on the swells and then they collapse in the most random places to take a nap. They’ve learned Chibley is the boss, but she doesn’t care much for two-month-old puppies. She has been spending these hot days napping in breezy dark places. We thought the heat had caused her to lose her appetite, but on ship check someone caught her in the hold eating the puppies’ food out of a bag that she had torn open.

Wake ups are happening now for a rope work and splicing workshop to take place on the main hatch in ten minutes. So it’s off with this computer and back to traditional seafaring! We’ve got the best of both worlds!

Erin and the rocket trail
Katie aloft
May 11 rocket trail
Natasha stencils

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Meet The Crew I

The Picton Castle crew is an exciting lot, joining us from all over Canada, USA, Grenada, and Dominica! Their talents and areas of expertise in their “other lives” (when they are not sailing) are just as varied as the places they call home. This winter the Picton Castle assembled an all-star team of mostly former world voyagers and otherwise experienced crew for our role in the upcoming CBS television series PIRATE MASTER (airing Thursday nights at 8:00 PM starting May 31). Read on through this series of logs and meet the crew who currently call this square rigger home:

Stephanie, Deckhand

Stephanie joined the Picton Castle in early January 2007 at the island of Grenada. She signed on as a trainee and except for a brief trip home to her native Virginia in March Stephanie has remained aboard and has worked her way up to the role of Deckhand. She learned her lines quickly and she continues to enhance her seamanship skills every day. Stephanie is the queen of rust-busting and Sudoku puzzles, and when off watch, she can often be found on the Aloha Deck working away in her daily Sudoku calendar.

Ben, Deckhand

Ben joined the Picton Castle in Dominica in early February. He originally signed up for the Picton Castle’s Bosun School, but when the program was rescheduled we invited him to sail with us in the Caribbean. Ben, who has previously sailed in the Schooners Harvey Gamage, Spirit of Massachusetts, Lettie G. Howard and the English Brig Prince William, has quickly become a favorite among our crew. His work ethic, seamanship skills, and quick wit keep us on our toes and in stitches. A native of Kansas City, Ben is an emphatic football fan, a gifted and published writer, and a mentor to troubled youth. This summer he is joining the team at Ocean Classroom on the Schooner Harvey Gamage to assist in their summer sailing programs and fall down-rig schedule. We fully expect to see him with us again very soon.

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Cat Tales

She’s circled the globe three times and continues to be one of the most recognized members of our crew. She’s Ms Chibley Bits, the Picton Castle‘s cat, and she’s just written her first book.

Of course, Chibs needed a little help—keyboards being rather cumbersome for her six-toed paws—so Mineville, Nova Scotia resident Ruth Wells kindly came to her assistance.

A sailor herself, Ruth first met Chibley in 2004, though she’d been introduced to her ship and reputation a full four years earlier.

It was during the giant Tall Ships 2000 celebration at Halifax and Ruth had just returned home from touring the visiting ships, including the Picton Castle. “I was telling my daughter, a 911 dispatcher, about being aboard the Picton Castle and she said ‘that’s the one that had the cat go missing.’”

In fact, several of Halifax’s finest had been dispatched to look for Chibley, who had gone AWOL following the Parade of Sail. Crew members, previously anxious to get underway for the ship’s home port of Lunenburg, refused to sail until she was found.

Of course, Chibley eventually turned up—she simply wasn’t finished with matters ashore. The media had a heyday.

As for Ruth, she was “fascinated to learn of a shipboard cat. Everyone we knew lost them overboard.” That’s why the Wells’ had a rabbit aboard their sailboat. She decided this feline had a story to tell.

Ruth spent a couple of years writing this first book, Chibley: the Cat Who Went to Sea. A second tale is already in the works.

Ruth and the book’s illustrator, Doug McCabe, will both be on hand at the Picton Castle Sea Chest, 132 Montague Street, Lunenburg, this Saturday, May 12, from 2-4 p.m.

While unable to attend personally, Chibley—currently bound for Charleston aboard the Picton Castle—will be offering special paw-o-graphs for $2 with all proceeds going toward the purchase of educational materials to be distributed to needy schools during future voyages.

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Underway for Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Location: 16° 38.196′ N / 62° 52.135′ W (about parallel to Montserrat, UK)
Ordered Course: N x W

Yesterday was nothing short of a flurry of activity aboard the barque Picton Castle! Over a 24-hour period, our crew was joined by (lucky) 13 new trainees who are aboard for this three-week passage bound for adventure and ultimately for Charleston, South Carolina. At anchor in St. Pierre, Martinique, the crew spent a wickedly hot day (it is summer now in the Caribbean and it is hot!) rust-busting, priming, painting, preparing the ship for sea and allowing the new trainees to become familiar with their surroundings (and get a little sunburned). The workday came to an appropriate end around 1645 (4:45 PM) when the Captain announced a swim call. Virtually all hands appeared on deck in their suits and were over the rail the instant the ladders and life rings were made fast.

At 1715 (5:15 PM) Captain Moreland called a muster amidships and introduced the professional crew to the new trainees before going over some details about the upcoming passages and places we will visit. When all questions had been answered, the Captain gave the order, “Hands to hoist the skiff!” The new trainees caught on quickly and fell in line behind the professional crew as they scrambled to the boat falls on the starboard side of the Quarterdeck. Those who were wandering about lost and confused were quickly rounded up and given a task. Next the yards were braced up sharp on a starboard tack and by 1740 the engineers had fired up the main engine and First Mate Mikkel oversaw the crew on the foc’s’l head as they heaved up the starboard anchor. Within ten minutes the Picton Castle was underway once again and bound for Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands! Though JVD is Captain Moreland’s favourite British virgin Island, several of our ship’s crew have visited the island several times before and are eager to get back to Foxy’s Tamarind Calypso Bar and Ivan’s “Stress Free” beach. For those among us who have never had the pleasure of meeting our friends on Jost or of truly “living the island life,” they are in for a treat! Foxy sings calypso with plenty of political and social commentary jabs, and, of course, the Piña Coladas and Jamaican Red Stripe go down pretty well while swinging in a rope hammock strung between two palms next to the turquoise water’s edge!

Once we were underway, the heads’ls, main topmast stays’l, spanker, and the lower tops’ls were set and dinner was served. Almost immediately after dinner was finished, the crew broke into sea watches. When Bosun Lynsey’s 4-8 Watch took the deck, the members of the other watches trickled below to nap or rested on the main hatch amidships until bouts of sea sickness subsided.

The crew passed the night with a beautiful, bright moon overhead to light the things on deck that typically lurk in the shadows waiting to stub an unsuspecting toe. The trainees learned to keep a good lookout and experienced their first trick on helm. The weather was warm with only 1/8 cumulus cloud cover to steer by and a gentle breeze filled our sails to help speed us along through the low 1-2 foot swell. At one point, the ship was making as many as 10 knots of speed when motoring with some sails set! We were screaming along but the motion was so regular and gentle that it was difficult to guess the speed without looking at the GPS. Regardless of the low swell there were still a number of green hands seasick. The wind and swell have piped up more today and the green hands who were not sick last night are a little green in the face today.

We are making great time and rumour has it we may arrive at Jost as early as tomorrow! In the meantime, the watches began their first official day of ship’s work at sea with a good deck wash at 6 AM. The 8-12 Watch turned-to on domestics (cleaning living spaces and heads) and then continued with yesterday’s projects: sealing, priming and painting rails, and scraping the decks to prepare for a much-needed coat of linseed oil mixed with kerosene. Oiling the decks is an important part of ship’s maintenance because it protects the wood from the wear and tear of foot traffic and also from the extremes of sea water and the damaging rays of the sun. The infamous Galley Duty roster has been posted, and one person from each watch has been appointed daily to assist Chief Cook Donald (Grenada) with meal preparations and clean-up.

Lunch is finished now and the decks are quiet as members of 2nd Mate Rebecca’s 12-4 Watch go silently about their work. The other watches are below now catching up on lost sleep or frantically studying their Crew Manuals so they can figure out that funny seafaring language we speak on deck. This afternoon we will continue the safety orientation that has been ongoing since early yesterday, and we will likely run through a complete set of Fire and Man Overboard drills to make sure that everyone is familiar with the equipment, the locations of the safety gear, and the procedures that we follow.

Main topmast-stays l
Port forward from amidships

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