Captain's Log

Archive for August, 2009

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Getting Ready for a Hurricane

Below is the sequence of events, decisions and jobs that we as a ship make and deal with when faced with a hurricane on the way in the Canadian Maritimes.

D. Moreland


As of 1630 UTC – 1400 NFLD Time 2009-08-23 – Burgeo, Newfoundland Canada – light SEly winds fog and light rain – 12 M, up to 26M seas reported at La Have Banks bouy – DM

Hurricane BILL and storm preparations for PICTON CASTLE

On Monday August 17 while at anchor at Cap aux Meules, Magalene Islands we became aware (through communications with our office and NOAA weather fax maps as well as e-mails from fellow mariners) that there was a TS well east of the Caribbean developing into a Hurricane that could possibly become a concern for vessels operating in the NW Atlantic region. We began to examine possibilities, options and issues to do with preparation for such a storm. Informed crew of the possibility of such a storm, and its implications for the ship.

On Tuesday August 18 decided that the best course of action was to find a secure berth in a well protected port.

Began examining the possibilities of putting into Port Hawkesbury, Sydney, Port Aux Basques, Burgeo, St Pierre, Gaultois and Fortune.

On Wednesday August 18 after examining charts and Sailing Directions settled on trying Burgeo in south western Newfoundland first in that if it was unsuitable for any reason then there would still be time to seek alternative shelter prior to predicted arrival of hurricane between 22-24.

On Thursday August 20 sailed into Port Burgeo in thick fog and made contact with locals regarding berth at old fish plant in Short Reach – confirmed our intentions with Port Aux Basques Coast Guard. Fish Plant berth in narrow well protected cove of Short Reach confirmed as both a good heavy weather berth and available so proceeded to that berth and moored.

Monitored BILL’s track and forecasts by way of Atlantic Briefing fax maps, VHF radio forecasts, contact w/staff at office, consultation with local mariners and mariners at sea and along the coast, TV and internet information.

On Saturday August 22 continuing 23, commenced direct ship preparations including

– orientation of situation to crew and updates

– communications with office and ships complement

– securing safe storm berth

– extra mooring lines

– chafe gear

– extra fenders

– swept wharf to remove debris

– extra gaskets on all sails – two blocked some halyards to reduce chafe

– nipping running rigging to reduce chafe

– removal of flags

– extra lashings about ship

– securing of ships boats by hauling them up ashore nearby

– continue to monitor all WX forecasting and reporting sources

– log WX changes and Barometric changes through out period

– consider possible medical implications with Doctor

Procedures during storm

– WT doors, hatches and portholes – remove gangway

– watches

– bracing yards to the wind direction to reduce windage

– emergency evacuation if needed

So all is well and the ship and crew are fine. But the story isn’t over…



Nothing really to report from last night – all is well. There was quite a bit of wind but this is a pretty protected spot so we didn’t see much in the way of surge or swell. The crew are in good spirits, the ship’s fine, all is well. We’re all hands this morning to work on downrigging hurricane precautions – getting extra gaskets and heavy duty chafe gear off, getting heads’l halyards and stay and fish tackles rigged up again. Current weather is warm and sunny, a little bit of wind from the north and the sky is clearing. There’s a weather station here, I’m curious to see what the max wind speed was here last night – will check it out and let you know. Maggie


Plan to get going tomorrow – still 6-8m sea out there today – might spend a night at a nearby island, maybe not – need to start heading SW towards the Burg – ship and crew fine – this will be the true end of the Voyage of the Atlantic here this weekend. Need to get in on Saturday, some flts on Sunday – dm


From: office
Sent: August 25, 2009 1:56 PM
To: ship
Subject: next hurricane in the works

Hi, This shouldn’t affect your passage back to L’burg, but there is a new hurricane brewing just north of the Turks and Caicos. It isn’t a circular storm yet, but NOAA has put the chances of it developing into one in the next 48 hours as high. It turns up on your wx fax maps as ‘gale’ and ‘possible tropical cyclone’, depending on which map you look at. I’ll keep an eye on it. Have you received the recent maps showing the nasty low and cold front going through tomorrow? Lynsey


Lynsey – Yeah, we have seen that new hurricane developing that BILL paved the way for, looks like it will make same track, but we should be in by then. That nasty low from interior Canada looks like it is getting bumped up a bit and is supposed to pass north of Newfoundland, it will still be a foul wind tomorrow evening but probably not too strong if we are off cape Breton and we might anchor up tomorrow night and let the wind veer to west after the front. Sweet sailing right now, just sailed off the dock in Burgeo and are closed hauled on a starboard tack making south true with sunny skies and a nice swell left over.

See you soon back in Lunenburg


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Sailing to Lunenburg

After Hurricane Bill passed through Burgeo, the captain decided to wait an extra day in port before getting underway again. Swells were still reported to be big outside and we could see waves crashing at the end of the cove, so we would let the seas settle a bit. In the morning, all hands worked to downrig the extra gear put in place for the hurricane. All the extra gaskets came off the sail, extra hawsers in, extra chafe gear off and rerigging some of the hayards. The starboard watch took the deck in the afternoon, and the port watch enjoyed one more afternoon exploring Burgeo.

On Tuesday morning it was time to get underway and sail for Lunenburg. We had a bright clear morning with modest west winds. With an audience of people from Burgeo, we sailed off the dock. First we used the main lower tops’ls with the yards squared to push the ship in astern and away from the wharf, then set a heads’l to help to turn the bow around. Once we were turned, we set more sail and slipped quietly through the channel in Short Reach and away from Burgeo.

We sailed during the day on Tuesday, then took in sails at dusk and turned on the main engine. Keeping an eye on the weather, we wanted to get across the Cabot Strait to the coast of Cape Breton Island so that we could anchor on Wednesday night when a low pressure system with a good bit of wind was due to pass through. We continued under motor on Wednesday, with some lumpy seas (and some of the crew not feeling very well) until we reached Morien Bay in Cape Breton where we anchored for the night. The wind was up to Force 8, but the port anchor dug in and held well with two shots of chain out.

Thursday morning’s wake-up came early, with all hands called at 0530 to get underway by 0600. The wind had laid down overnight and changed direction. The crew heaved up the port anchor and got it properly stowed, and we were underway again, bound for Lunenburg.

Because we’re always watching the weather, we knew about Tropical Storm Danny, brewing off the Bahamas and headed for Cape Hatteras and forecast to head in the direction of Nova Scotia on the weekend. The latest predictions have it making landfall just east of Yarmouth late Saturday evening, on a path up the middle of Nova Scotia. This means strong SE winds for Lunenburg, which can cause a lot of swell in the harbour.

Danny, this latest tropical storm, has us wanting to be tied up safely in port again, so we’re paddling hard to get to Lunenburg on Friday night or Saturday morning. We’d like to be in and securely tied up well before we start to feel the effects of this pesky Danny.

While we all have weather on our minds, Lunenburg also marks the completion of a voyage and a homecoming. Having this summer sailed around Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, to Newfoundland this sailing into Lunenburg marks the true finale of this 20,000 mile Voyage of the Atlantic. As we motor-sail up the coast, thoughts of the crew turn towards flights home and returning to regular life, or, for some, a fall season in Lunenburg filled with evenings at the Grand Banker, warm fires in the woodstove at the Dory Shop and Wednesday night small boat races while working on down-rigging the ship.

leaving Burgeo under sail, photo by Ollie Campbell (25)
leaving Burgeo under sail, photo by Ollie Campbell (45)
leaving Burgeo under sail, photo by Ollie Campbell (7)

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Picton Castle had an extended stay in Burgeo, Newfoundland thanks to Hurricane Bill. Not a problem, Burgeo is a great place. We arrived on Thursday and got tied up securely at the wharf at the old fish plant at the head of a long land-locked cove called Short Reach, to a good solid dock with cement on top, a wooden face and big solid steel cleats heavily bolted into concrete. It was important to us to find somewhere secure to tie up the ship during the hurricane. Burgeo offered all of the elements we were looking for including a good dock big enough and with water deep enough that was also available for us to use, a very protected harbour with little chance of swell coming in from the open ocean and, as a big plus, an interesting place to visit to distract ourselves occasionally from the weather.

There were a few other options for ports of refuge that we had looked into, but the place that seemed most likely was Burgeo and it was closest. Even so, we arrived early enough that if the wharf was unsuitable or was full because other vessels were tied up there we would have enough time to carry on to one of the other ports on our list and get moored there. As it happened, apart from a few small boats, we are the only vessel at this wharf and we’ve found it a very good place to be.

By getting in and secured here early enough, the crew have also had a chance to explore and check out the fine town of Burgeo. Burgeo is connected to other towns along the south shore by ferry and also has a road that goes inland and connects to the Trans Canada Highway, 150km away. The fish plant here was abandoned in the 1990s, but there is still a part of it being used by a company processing fish meal. Burgeo seems like a self-sustaining community with its own school, town hall, fire department, post office, museum, hardware stores, pharmacy and grocery store. The majority of the adults we have met here have lived in Burgeo most or all of their lives. The museum was nice and very interestingly showed photographs of small schooners from Denmark and England in the harbour, here on some trade.

The crew have sampled the meals at the three different restaurants in town, made friends with Kenny, who owns the Sea View Lounge, played darts and pool at the Sea View Lounge, visited the museum, walked down to the ferry docks, enjoyed the beaches at the nearby Sand Banks Provincial Park (and did laundry at the coin laundromat there) and walked to the top of the lookout in town. We’ve also been exploring the natural beauty of the area. The landscape is pretty rugged around here, rocky hills covered with spruce, pine and thick under brush. The starboard watch made an expedition in the skiff on Friday, motoring around to check out all the little rocky islands and tiny coves in the area. The town itself is even set among a bunch of meandering small coves. On Saturday the port watch also made an expedition, this one mostly on foot and in the fog to climb a nearby mountain. A few of the crew have rented cars and driven the two and a half hours to Stephenville, the next closest major town by road. It used to be the site of a very large US Air Force base established in the Second World War that closed in the 1960’s, so driving into town past the old airfield and hangars was interesting.

Our 15-foot, built-on-deck, wooden boat MR BONES has made a few sailing trips here in Burgeo. All of the port watch took turns going out for about an hour and a half on Friday. With her two sails, a main and a jib, MR BONES sails quite well and goes to windward very well – her sculling oar is like power steering. After a nice day of enjoying Burgeo in perfect summer weather, without the slightest hint evident that an enormous storm was heading our way, the crew of the Picton Castle set about getting our ship ready for Hurricane Bill off by Bermuda but already promising to be a rough one.

Alex and Donald add chafe gear
getting out extra hawsers
leaving Burgeo under sail
Nadja re-rigs the stay tackle
Susie sailing in MR BONES

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Sailing to Newfoundland

Picton Castle sailed off the hook from our roadstead anchorage at Iles de la Madeleine on Tuesday morning, meaning that we got underway under sail alone, without the use of the engine. We sailed away from the archipelago in light wind, turning and bracing the yards as the wind varied, and carried on under sail through the night.

The ship receives weather forecasts in a few different ways. One is on the weather fax, which prints out large ocean NOAA weather charts. We also get text-only forecasts through our NavTex and by satellite email through Inmarsat-C. Our office ashore can also send the ship weather information by email. This is all in addition to VHF radio weather reports and forecasts

We first saw Hurricane Bill, which was then Tropical Storm Bill east of the Caribbean, on the weather fax while we were in Iles de la Madeleine and have been tracking that bad boy since. It seems to be fairly big and strong and fast, so we’ve been monitoring it closely. As Bill has developed, we have been looking at options for safe harbours on the south shore of Newfoundland so we can tie the ship up and wait for the weather to pass. Hurricanes can be tricky to predict with any real accuracy in the long-term (as can any weather), so while there are all kinds of forecasts, the truth is that nobody knows exactly which way Bill will go and how strong it will be when it gets there. But it looks strong and like it is coming close. Wherever it goes, we can be fairly sure that we’ll feel some effects in strong winds and big seas. In order to keep the ship and the crew safe, we altered course from ports further east on the south coast of Newfoundland to head towards Burgeo, a well-protected harbour with a solid dock we can tie up to. We’re not expecting the effects of Bill here until Sunday or Monday, but by heading here sooner, we can be sure that there’s a safe place to put the ship and time to get the ship well secured and prepared for this sort of destructive weather.

We took in all sail and started motoring Wednesday afternoon and through the night when the wind went light and visibility was poor because of drizzle and fog. We came to the approaches to Burgeo early Thursday morning, then headed in and anchored at Burgeo Port. We launched the skiff and Paul, Alex and Nadja went ashore to seek some local knowledge and take some soundings at the dock. The docks at the centre of town are either too shallow or are used frequently by the ferry, so we motored around to the back of town where there’s an abandoned fish plant with a good solid dock that we tied up to. The dock is at the end of an inlet called Short Reach, the whole area is well protected and will be a good place to ride out Hurricane Bill. Over the next few days we’ll make preparations by adding heavy duty chafe gear to all our dock lines and add a few more lines, we’ll put extra gaskets on the sails to keep them firmly stowed and check everything on deck to make sure it’s lashed down securely.

In the meantime, today is sunny and warm (I was not anticipating wearing shorts in Newfoundland, but I am) and a bunch of the crew are off on an expedition in the skiff to explore some of the small islands that surround us here. MR BONES has been launched and the rig and sails are just being set up, so some of the crew will have her sailing after lunch. We have been welcomed extremely warmly by the people of Burgeo who seem to be as excited to see the ship as we are to see them.

Ferry GALIPOLI through the fog at Burgeo Port
Ollie prepares MR BONES to sail
PICTON CASTLE alongside at fish plant in Burgeo

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Iles de la Madeleine

Picton Castle’s visit to Iles de la Madeleine has been fantastic and the crew have fallen in love with these islands in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. With a year-round population of about 13,000 people, these islands can almost triple in population in the summer to about 35,000 people. They’re part of Quebec and many visitors come from the mainland of Quebec, but an increasing amount of tourists are coming from farther away. This comes as no surprise to us – how could anyone resist the natural scenic beauty of the place and the friendly warmth of the people who live here?

The first island we spotted on the horizon was Ile d’Entree, or Entry Island in English, with high cliff faces topped by rolling hills with no trees. As we sailed closer, we could see the lighthouse and a few neat homes, with cows grazing on the hills beyond. Entry Island is the only inhabited island that is not connected to any of the other islands by land. It’s also one of two English settlements in the otherwise very French Iles de la Madeleine and has a population of 100 during summer and 80 during winter. All of the other islands are connected by long, narrow, flat sand spits.

We anchored just off Cap Aux Meules, the main commercial centre of the islands and the port where the ferry comes in from PEI and Montreal. There are two parts of the harbour there, one that is bigger for the large ocean-going ferries to dock in along with bigger fishing vessels, then a smaller harbour that is full of lobster fishing boats and pleasure craft. Fishing in the number one industry in the Islands, the harbour at Cap Aux Meules is home to 80 fishing vessels alone. In all of the harbours on all of the islands, there are hundreds of vessels for fishing.

Tourism is the second biggest industry in Iles de la Madeleine, but we found the people to be more than just ordinarily friendly. We all tried our best to communicate with our broken French (except for Cat, whose first language is French), in most cases people jumped in and helped us out in English. By just sitting on a patio with a cold drink or striking up a conversation on the wharf, it was easy to make friends. Manon, from the local radio station, explained to me that people from the Islands are naturally curious, which I recognize as a trait in many small communities, and are particularly curious about things that have to do with boats and the sea, which makes sense because those elements are such a part of daily life. It was amazing to be at a beach on the opposite side of the islands from where the ship was anchored and start a conversation with someone who knew immediately what I was talking about when I said I sail on Picton Castle.

There seem to be a lot of young people in Iles de la Madeleine, and lots of things to do to keep them engaged and occupied. Our crew took in a few different live music shows, all of which received great reviews. Beaches are beautiful, long ribbons of white sand stretching for kilometres at a time. In some of the low areas between islands, salt water lagoons are formed and they are ideal spots for kiteboarding and windsurfing with lots of wind but less waves than the open ocean. With caves to explore, trails to hike, there are all sorts of beautiful sights to see. Many of the Islands’ residents are artists and craftspeople, there are little studios everywhere. Dining out on the Islands is also fantastic with great restaurants, well-stocked little grocery stores and outstanding bakeries and delis that would be found in big cosmopolitan cities.

Donald, Buddy and I made friends with a local excursion boat driver named Michel who offered to show us around the islands one day. We drove from one end of the archipelago to the other, stopping several times along the way to eat, drink, walk on beaches, take photos and generally enjoy the day. La Grave was one of the most interesting places we stopped, the original settlement on the Islands. While it doesn’t appear that very many people live there now, the old buildings have been turned into restaurants and shops. The buildings are all made of wood with wood shingles on the outside walls, all are quite small and fairly close together along the water. One of the buildings now houses a restaurant with live music – they have instruments there and on nights when no performers are scheduled to play, restaurant patrons are welcome to take the stage. We also saw artists’ studios where jewellery and sand sculptures are made, a cheese house, a place that makes Bagosse (the local home made alcohol), interesting churches and lots and lots of fishing boats.

When the ship is anchored, we make scheduled runs in the skiff to transport people between the ship and the shore. The skiff run was a fairly long one here, so it was a good chance to do some small boat handling instruction and practice. Our 15 foot Grenadian boat that we built onboard last winter, MR BONES, was launched again here, this time with a new sailing rig and two new sails. The sails are made out of green and orange tarps, sewn together where they could be and stuck together in other places with contact cement. The wind was good for sailing and MR BONES sailed well, shooting off to windward.

After a one day delay in sailing to wait for favourable winds, Picton Castle sailed from Iles de la Madeleine this morning, bound for Newfoundland and the French islands of St Pierre & Miquelon, not far away.

at anchor just off Cap Aux Meules
Dave and Cat stow headsails
Entry Island over the braces
fishing boats in harbour at Cap Aux Meules
hiking through sand dunes to the best beach

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Summerside to Iles de la Madeleine

Picton Castle sailed from Summerside, PEI last Tuesday, bound for Iles de la Madeleine. Twelve new crew members joined us in Summerside and they were all oriented to the ship and began their instruction in safety procedures and the sails and rigging while at anchor. We did two drills on Tuesday, one simulating a man overboard where we deployed gear, launched and recovered the rescue boat, the other simulating a fire in the rag bin where we ran out and charged the fire hoses. We sailed off the hook in Summerside, then out the channel and into the Northumberland Strait.

The wind was more favourable for us to head east in the Strait (we could have gone west around PEI), passing under the Confederation Bridge once again. We passed through the centre span under sail late Tuesday afternoon, then headed to anchor on the PEI coast just on the other side of the bridge. Wednesday morning we continued sailing east in the Northumberland Strait, turning on the main engine for a few hours to help push us along in the light wind. We anchored again that evening, on the Nova Scotia side of the Northumberland Strait.

Thursday brought the first overnight sail for our new crew. We broke into watches shortly after heaving up the anchor and started sailing around the east end of PEI. By Thursday evening, we could see the lights of Souris in north eastern PEI, then we sailed out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, out of sight of land, towards Iles de la Madeleine.

Being at sea for a few days means that the crew can fall into a comfortable rhythm of watches and ship’s work. On this passage, the pin rails on the foc’sle head were scraped, sanded and varnished, the breezeway overhead was painted, rust was chipped from the starboard bulwarks on the well deck, ratlines were replaced, the mizzen shrouds were tarred, and blocks were oiled on deck and aloft. Sailmaker David was working on a sail he laid out in Summerside for MR BONES, our Grenadian boat built on board this past winter. MR BONES was on the hatch to get the final bits of a sailing rig installed, so when the sail was finished we set up the rig in the boat on the hatch to test it out. The mainsail looked great, so David also put together a jib, made of the same green and orange tarp material. This was a busy passage for the sailmaker as David also put the finishing touches on a new main royal, which would be bent on while at anchor.

Friday was a great sailing day as we approached Iles de la Madeleine. We spotted Entry Island, the most south-eastern island in the archipelago first, then sailed past it and into the Baie de Plaisance (which translates to English as Pleasure Bay) and toward the island and town of Cap Aux Meules (which translates to English as Wheel Cape, as in a cheese wheel, not sure why that’s its name) where we would anchor.

Hayley learns to replace ratline
Jackie chipping rust
Marie sands the pin rail
new sail and rig for MR BONES
NickSA tars the mizzen

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Summerside, Part 2

Summerside was hardly all work and no play. Each crew member had a couple of days off to explore the town and the beautiful countryside of Prince Edward Island. A group of our crew had tickets to a big concert on the day the ship sailed in, so they drove across the Confederation Bridge (which we had just sailed under the day before) to see AC/DC in Moncton, New Brunswick. From all reports, the concert was outstanding. More than 90,000 people attended. Wow!

Low Tide Golf Tournament

On Saturday night, the off-watch was invited to Ron Casey’s house for the 22nd annual Sand Bar golf tournament. Every year, Ron waits for a day in August when the tide is out for a long time and sets up an eight hole golf course on the sand below the high tide mark. All the equipment needed to play was provided, including clubs, balls, tees and score cards. Some of the holes were quite challenging with water hazards and obstructions from seaweed, rocks, tall grass, ridges in the sand and jellyfish. The unusual terrain of the course meant that luck was required almost as much as skill in order to get a good score. Maria won two prizes, one for top female golfer and one for coming from the farthest distance away (she’s from South Africa). The golf game was followed by a huge BBQ and corn and mussel boil, along with a bonfire. All of our crew who attended the sand bar golf were also “Spudded In”, making us honorary Prince Edward Islanders. We were each given a potato to kiss, then we had to hop across the lawn in a potato sack, kiss the potato again and drink a shot of rum if you were old enough. Official certificates were issued at the end of the ceremony and we could have our pictures taken with a guy in a potato suit.

Yacht Club

The Silver Fox Yacht Club was our base of operations ashore. They were great about letting us relax, do laundry, take showers, lay out a sail and use their dock for skiff runs. One of the club members, Dick, had some of our crew out to sail his 35′ sloop for small vessel handling training and practice. This Yacht Club facility is pretty unusual, even unique because it’s a combination yacht club and curling club, the only one of its kind in Canada. The two seasonal uses seem to balance each other out well, with a full marina of boats in the summer and a very active curling program in the winter.

New Crew and Drills

In Summerside, we ended the second leg of this summer’s voyage around the Maritimes and began the third leg. We said goodbye to five crew members and welcomed twelve new ones on Monday. There are a few familiar faces joining us again, including Ollie from the fourth world circumnavigation, Grady and Judy from the summer of 2006, and Allison, Hayley and John who have been with us on a few different summer voyages. We also have some new folks who have never been aboard before. As people arrived on Monday, they all received orientation tours. On Tuesday morning, before we sailed from Summerside, we did a review of safety procedures and safety training for the whole crew, followed by a man overboard drill where we launched and recovered the boat and a fire drill where we ran out and charged the hoses.

We got underway late Tuesday morning, sailing off the hook and out of Summerside harbour. We’re bound for the Magdalen Islands, or Les Iles de la Madeleine as they’re called in French, which are in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and part of the province of Quebec. Then onward towards Newfoundland…

Anne and Allison practice donning life jackets with Marie
Donald rescues his golf ball from a water hazard
Lewis, Nate, Maria and Julie get Spudded In

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Summerside, Part 1

Picton Castle sailed in to the inner harbour and the anchorage at Summerside on Thursday and dropped the anchor, all under sail alone. As the crew furled sail, Ron Casey, the Executive Director of Downtown Summerside and host for our visit, came out to meet the ship along with his team in period costume representing some of Summerside’s historic figures. The crew were welcomed warmly by these characters and we were all given burlap potato sacks filled with all sorts of tourist information and small gifts from the Island. Ron is truly one of the most enthusiastic and welcoming people we know and Summerside is lucky to have him. Every town should have a Ron Casey.

Mr. Bones

Exciting projects were planned for days on board at anchor in Summerside. On the passage from Pugwash, we sent Mr. Bones, our small wooden Grenadian boat built mostly aboard, down from the galley house to the hatch for a paint job and to have a sailing rig installed. Mr. Bones was launched in Summerside and many of the crew went rowing. Sailmaker Dave spent a day ashore at the Silver Fox Yacht Club laying out a sail for Mr. Bones, which will be made out of green and orange tarps.

Rigging the Spanker Gaff

The gaff for the spanker, the aftermost sail, was sent down for an overhaul in Summerside. The on-watch brought the gaff down to deck on Friday and moved it forward to the well-deck so they could work on it. The whole spar was scraped, sanded, stained and varnished, the metal and rope hardware was overhauled and replaced as necessary. The rigging that attaches to the gaff was also brought down to be inspected and tarred. All hands were on board on Tuesday to send the gaff back up before we left Summerside. It was hauled up at the inboard end using a block and heavy samson braid until that end, the goose-neck, could be secured to the mast. The gaff vangs and span were then secured to the end of the gaff and the outboard end was hauled up and the span was shackled on and the vangs made fast in order to put the gaff back into its usual place. Lifting heavy spars is a great exercise in seamanship that crew members don’t often get to practice at sea, so sending the gaff down and back up was a good rigging for our crew and an interesting project for them to be a part of.

A New Topgallant Sail

Bending on the new main t’gallant was the third big project in Summerside. This sail was sewn entirely by hand on board Picton Castle during our recent Voyage of the Atlantic. Bending on a brand new sail is like putting on a brand new outfit, kind of a special occasion and everyone comments on how great it looks. This was the first time this sail had ever been bent on, so the canvas was clean and white and stiff. The sail was first set and used to sail out of Summerside. Sailmaker Dave is just days away from completing a new royal, so perhaps we’ll get to bend that one on soon as well.

Alex steadies the gaff while rigging is attached
Captain Moreland and Ron Casey
launching MR BONES in Summerside

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Chibley’s Log, 2nd edition


Editor’s note: Here we offer Chibley’s second set of log entries. To be sure, this is not her second log as these clearly represent three separate log entries, although we cannot say with precision exactly to which days she is actually referring. We suppose that does not matter.


It was hot today, hot all day, hot, hot, hot! Except for me, I was cool. I snoozed in the shade after I slept in the warm light. I like them, shade and light. It’s nice to be hot. It’s nice to be cool. When it was dark I went into the big guy’s room and took a snooze on some deliciously smelly old clothes. Mushed ‘em all around until they were just right and then I napped. All the peeps should have such a nice pile of nice smelling old clothes to nap on. In the young peeps’ home they have lots of smelly clothes but they don’t always smell so nice. And there’s lots of black gooey sticky stuff on their clothes. Not so nice to sleep on for me. They seem to like it. Oh well. I purred for awhile. Later I had some food from a bowl and some water too. It was good. Took a look around, everything was okay. Some of the peeps wanted to pass their front hands down my nice fur. Seems a shame they don’t have so much of their own fur. I wonder why ? Their no fur having skin is nice for rubbing down my beautiful fur so it’s not so bad, really.

Editor’s note: In this log entry, Chibley reveals that she enjoys both warm and cool. In the interests of free speech we have not edited out her somewhat untoward comment about the pile of dirty laundry in the captain’s cabin . She is innocent of evil intent, we believe, at least in this isolated case.


It was windy today and my home leaned over. Sometimes it does that. Small bits of water, the salty kind, spits over the edge of my home and makes me a little bit wet. Sometimes it makes the peeps really wet. They make all sorts of funny noises when that happens. Peeps are funny. One of the peeps up-chucked and I thought how nice that was for them. Up-chucking always makes me feel good. The peeps must like it when that happens. Ate some food from a bowl.

Editor’s note: Apparently there was a great deal of hilarious squealing when a dash of spray took those standing amidships by surprise. Here, also, Chibley shares her feline satisfaction with that feline homeopathic purgative.


Cold today so I went to one of my warm places to snooze. I have many, many fine places to snooze at my home. Mostly the peeps snooze in the same spots all the time, not always though. Sometimes they snooze in other spots. The peeps are messing with new ropes today. They smell nice. And the peep who makes all the sails put some nice soft sails out for me to relax on. He is a nice peep, always doing nice things like that for me. I don’t up-chuck on his nice sails though, seems a bad thing so I don’t do that. Ate some food from a bowl and had some water too. My friend who makes the food for the peeps gave me some wonderful yummy things.

Editor’s note: In this entry Chibley reveals a high level of discernment and points to her understanding that somehow people are just la ittle bit different than cats.

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Pugwash to Summerside

The distance from Pugwash, Nova Scotia to Summerside, Prince Edward Island is only about 40 nautical miles. Picton Castle sailed from Pugwash on Sunday morning, following Fair Jeanne, Roseway, Mist of Avalon and Pride of Baltimore II out of the harbour at high tide into a sunny and very calm day. Pugwash was the final port of Tall Ships Nova Scotia 2009 and all the vessels were going our separate ways.

Picton Castle was bound for Summerside, on the other side of the Northumberland Strait. We had four days to make this 40nm passage, so our original plan was to sail around Prince Edward Island. We thought it would be a good objective for a four day sail at about 270 miles all the way around, but that would require wind. When we left Pugwash on Sunday, there was next to no wind, so our plan had to change. We motored east until we reached the North Shore of Malagash Point around noon, then anchored. So no problem, the next plan was good too, sail in the Northumberland during the day light hours and anchor at night and do plenty of maneuvers like tacking.

Sunday was declared Sunday Funday. We often take Sundays off from doing ship’s work while we’re at sea. Sunday Funday also has the added fun of swimming, rope swinging and generally relaxing together. The rope swing was rigged from the fore yard, crew took turns swinging out from the cathead and plunging into the ocean. The water was warm by Nova Scotian standards at 21 degrees Celsius and even those crew members who are used to swimming only in the tropics declared that the water temperature was decent enough to dive in. Inflatable pool toys were dragged out of the foc’sle and blown up. Most hands spent a good part of the afternoon floating about.

After a peaceful night at anchor, we got underway the next morning and sailed slowly for Summerside. First the gang scrambled up the rigging and loosed all sail, then they hove up the anchor and got underway under sail without using the engine. The wind was light, so our top speed was about three knots. We sailed out into the Northumberland Strait, then had to tack the ship in the afternoon to head back towards the Nova Scotia shore to anchor for the night. Tacking is a great exercise for the crew because it requires coordinated efforts and snappy sail handling. The helmsman first puts the helm hard over to turn the ship into the wind, then the heads’l sheets are let loose to take the pressure off the bow while the ship starts to turn. The spanker is hauled amidships, sometimes heads’ls are taken in and the clews on the courses get hauled up. The main topmast stays’l is passed to the new tack, main yards are braced around to the new tack and finally the fore yards come around and heads’l sheets are passed to the new tack as well. All of these movements need to happen quickly at just the right moment to get the ship to turn properly. To really get a feel for it, we tacked three times in a row with the crew taking different jobs each time. .

Monday night we anchored off Cape Cliff, about 8nm to the west of where we had been anchored the night before. On Tuesday we continued the routine of heaving up the anchor in the morning, getting underway, sailing out into the Northumberland Strait towards PEI then turning back to Nova Scotia and ending up just a bit closer to Summerside than we were the night before.

Day sailing has meant that we can be more productive with workshops and ship’s work because we have the full crew on deck all day. During Tall Ships events it can be difficult to get to the maintenance projects that take more time, or create mess or noise, because we have to keep the ship looking her best at all times. This passage has allowed us to chip, prime and paint different spots, to tar the rig, to get some painting projects done and to get Mr. Bones, the boat that we partly built, from a set of Grenadian frames and finished on board during the Voyage of the Atlantic, onto the cargo hatch for a fresh paint job and to be fitted with a sailing rig.

In addition to tacking practice, other workshops have been taking place on this passage. We’ve been cleaning up from ship’s work around 4pm, then holding workshops before supper. On Tuesday, Chief Mate Michael taught the crew about weather maps and how to read and analyze them, followed by a lesson and hands on practice with the lead line, which we use to take soundings to measure the depth of the water.

The wind was quite light on Tuesday, pushing the ship along, under full sail, at less than two knots, sometimes even slower. When the wind had almost died completely after lunch, we had another swim call. After bracing the yards on opposite tacks to stop the ship from moving forward at all (heaving-to), we put out a life ring, set lookouts and all the other things we do for an at sea swim call and the crew jumped into the water. We didn’t rig the rope swing, but jumping into the water from the bowsprit is just as much of a thrill and equally entertaining to watch.

Tuesday night we anchored off Heather Beach, about two and a half nautical miles away from Pugwash. Wednesday morning we heaved up the anchor again and continued on towards Summerside. The wind was stronger on Wednesday than it had been for the rest of the week, so we had a great sail. Shortly after lunch, Picton Castle passed under the centre span of the Confederation Bridge under sail alone. The Confederation Bridge links Prince Edward Island to the mainland, a very long bridge that was built in the 1990s. It’s amazing to be underneath it and see how thin and long it really is. After we passed under the bridge, the wind picked up a bit more and we were flying along at about 8 knots, a real thrill, especially for those crew members who have only been aboard a few weeks and who will be leaving us in Summerside.

We anchored once again on Wednesday night, across the Northumberland Strait from Summerside so that we would be close enough to get into port early in the day on Thursday. We sailed off the hook, then made our way across the Strait. As we approached Summerside, we sailed into the channel, bracing the yards as we needed to turn the ship to keep our course, and then dropped the anchor in Summerside harbour under full sail.

David, Lewis, Jackie and Sasha jump
Maria, Julie, Rachel and Andrea sand MR BONES
Meredith steers us under the bridge
Mike explains weather maps
Susie chips rust

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