Captain's Log

Archive for January, 2010

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Scraping and Sanding

It’s definitely winter in Lunenburg. We’ve had several big snowfalls this month, along with some cold temperatures and strong winds. Picton Castle continues to be tied snugly to the wharf at Adams and Knickle. Despite the weather, there are some signs that time is moving along and that it won’t be winter here forever. The Christmas tree that was lashed aloft on the mizzen was taken down this week. Days are getting longer again, with a few minutes of daylight to be seen on either side of our regular working hours.

We took a little break from ship’s work over the holiday season, but have been back at it since the New Year. The first big project to finish was scraping and sanding in the salon. One of the last remaining little bits from Picton Castle‘s role in the Mark Burnett reality television series “Pirate Master” was the dark stain on the wood outside the bunks in the main salon. This had started to wear out a bit during the Atlantic Voyage, but it’s terribly inconvenient to scrape, sand and varnish while people are living there. The handful of crew currently on board are living in the Batcave, the aftermost living quarters and the only living area that is heated. With the salon currently empty, it’s the best time to get work done there. After a week or two of work, the salon is now ready to be varnished, which will happen as soon as the temperature rises enough for the varnish to dry.

The scraping and sanding didn’t end with the salon, there are more wooden things to take care of in the warehouse. Both royal and t’gallant yards were sent down in the fall for overhaul, so they royals are currently laid out on sawhorses to get some attention. The royal and t’gallant yards are wood while the three lower yards on each mast, which are still rigged aloft on the ship, are steel. The old varnish has been completely scraped off, the wood has been sanded smooth and the metal hardware has all been overhauled, primed and painted. Some of the other wooden bits taken off the ship for varnish preparation work in the warehouse include the benches from the aloha deck, the box that houses the steering gear on the quarterdeck and the tops of the veggie lockers on the aloha deck.

All of these projects are being done to get the ship into top shape for the world voyage, our fifth global circumnavigation, which is starting soon. Trainees will be joining the ship in about two and a half months, so winter can’t be that much longer!

Nicksa primes royal hardware
royal yard ready for varnish

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Cesar Picton

We recently came across an article online that ties together Picton Castle‘s recent year-long voyage around the Atlantic Ocean.

You may know that our ship was named for a castle in Wales. Picton Castle was built in the late 13th century and has been home to the Philipps family, who are direct descendants of the original builder. A visit to the Picton Castle while the ship was in port at Milford Haven was a highlight of the voyage. On the Voyage of the Atlantic, the ship also visited Dakar in Senegal, a major port for the exportation of slaves from Africa. Many of the crew on the voyage have powerful memories of visiting Goree Island, the gateway through which slaves were loaded onto ships and carried away from their home.

This article tells the story of one particular boy who was brought from Senegal to Britain by an officer of the British army and given to Sir John Philipps as a gift. Named for the Philipps family castle, Cesar Picton was raised as a servant in the Philipps household. The family was against the slave trade so Cesar was educated and apparently mixed with the family on equal terms. An inheritance from Lady Philipps allowed Cesar to become a merchant, at which he was quite successful. Owning a home in Kingston and property in the country, Cesar died in 1836 at the age of 81.

On the Voyage of the Atlantic, particularly the passage from Africa to the Caribbean, the crew were mindful of the countless ships that had sailed that way before with cargoes of people. While Cesar Picton sailed a slightly different route, this other namesake of the Welsh castle draws together another connection on this voyage.

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