Captain's Log

Archive for May, 2010

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Sailmaking Continues…

Saturday May 22, 2010

The crew are really embracing this sailmaking project. We’re working on a mainsail for the Carriacou sloop Mermaid, owned for the past 33 years by John Smith. The Mermaid is currently in Panama, so our intention is to have the sail done in time to hand it over to John there. The sail will be made of dacron, a synthetic material, and we’re accustomed to working with cotton canvas, so this sail is a bit different than the sails we usually make. It involves far more machine sewing than we usually do on our own sails (many of our sails are sewn entirely by hand) and the material is much thinner and stiffer.

This afternoon the quarterdeck was full of people working intently on different bits and pieces that will go together to make the sail. The largest group of people were making grommets, using synthetic line twisted together to form small, tight rings that will be sewn into the sail. The sail will need more than 100 grommets, so there was plenty of opportunity to practice. Some of the crew were working on the panels of dacron that were sewn together in Anguilla, cutting along the lines we marked in the second layout. Tabling, the extra material that reinforces the edges of the sail, was also being cut and prepared. Where a seamstress will often iron seams flat before they’re sewn, we prepare pieces for sewing by folding over the right amount and rubbing a seam rubber or a fid (a wooden baton-like tool that tapers to a point at one end) along the fold.

Just before supper, we got the small sewing machine going, sewing corner patches onto the sail. While medical officer Dr. Krista was sewing, Julie, Tiina and Dave were helping to maneuver the rest of the sail around so she could sew the curved line of the corner patch. Some of the other crew were practicing sewing grommets into scraps of dacron. The grommets will be sewn in by hand and, as I mentioned before, working with dacron is new to most of us, so doing a few practice grommets before actually sewing them into the sail is a good idea. This sail will have three reef points, which will allow the sail to be set at less than its full size, so there will be plenty of grommet sewing to do.

Alex practices sewing in a grommet
Clark and Lauren use the seam rubber on the tabling
Dr Krista at the sewing machine

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Sailmaking in Anguilla

Thursday May 27, 2010

After Picton Castle sailed into Anguilla on Monday, the Captain immediately ran into an old friend of his, Captain Kevin Gray who has been working and sailing around the Caribbean for decades. As the two of them were catching up, the idea came about that our crew could help to make a sail for the Mermaid, a Carriacou sloop owned by John Smith, currently stuck in Panama without a mainsail. Kevin got to work right away, ordering materials to fly into Anguilla from Doyles in Barbados. The sail would be made of dacron, a stiff synthetic sail cloth material that which most yachts use today instead of cotton canvas. While we waited for the dacron to arrive on Wednesday evening, we got the big old Singer sewing machine and all its parts assembled on deck and in working order.

First thing Thursday morning, we used the stay tackle to load the big heavy sewing machine into the skiff to take ashore. The sail cloth had arrived Wednesday evening as scheduled, customs had been cooperative “ship supplies in transit”, so the plan was to do the first layout, seam it together and do the second layout all in the same day. In order to lay out a sail, a large, clear, flat space is required. Thanks to Roy and Mandy Bossons of Roy’s Place in Sandy Ground (a very lovely Caribbean grill and pub) we had a perfectly good parking lot in which to lay things out, and a big room in their restaurant patio to do the stiching. The skiff made a beach landing in front of Roy’s to unload the sewing machine and the other required tools – weights, heaving lines, nails, sharp knives, pencils, markers and rulers.

Using the dimensions emailed to us by John, we started by measuring out the shape of the sail, which was outlined by heaving lines, hammered into the ground at the corners. Once we were satisfied that the size and shape was correct, we rolled out the dacron in panels, cutting each length just larger than the marks on the ground. Each panel overlapped the previous one by an inch, allowing space for the panels to be sewn together. Once all the panels were cut, they were labeled and carried into the building where the sewing machine was. Starting at the leech, the first two panels were laid out side by side and double sided tape was stuck first to one panel, then the second panel was pressed on top, overlapping the first by an inch. The tape holds the panels together while they are sewn, otherwise the dacron would slip and the seams would be uneven. We rolled both panels up lengthwise, toward each other, then a team of people positioned the rolled material with the seam in the middle behind the sewing machine. Mate Rebecca was in charge of operating the machine and regulating the stitches. Together, the ten or so people carrying the material had to respond to her orders to slow down or speed up, to move to one side or the other. At each panel joining point there are three seams within the one inch space that run the whole length of the sail. By this method we joined all six panels together, rolling the finished panels into a larger roll in order to be able to expose the seam that needed to be stitched while still controlling the rest of the material. Captain Sir Emile Gumbs former master of the famous schooner Warspite looked and approved as to the goings on saying, “This is how we used to make sails for the trading schooners”.

We started at about 0800, all of the panels were seamed together by about 1300. After a short break for lunch, it was time to do the second layout. Unfortunately it was raining lightly at this point, but with the dacron it is less important to keep it dry than if we were working with cotton canvas. We took the seamed-together panels out to the parking lot again and laid them over the original template of lines. Because the panels were cut a little bit longer than the pattern, we had to mark the corners of the sail. Because it was raining, we took the sail back inside and did the rest of the second layout under shelter. There wasn’t enough space to lay out the whole sail at once, so we worked on one side at a time. Laying out each side flat, we took a line and held it tight between the corners that we had marked outside. This created a straight line between the corners. Lining rulers up with the rope, we penciled in the straight line. However, the sides of a sail are rarely straight. For the leech, we worked in a hollow of two inches by finding the middle of our straight line and measuring two inches into the sail. The middle of the rope was held at that spot, then led out to the corners that were previously marked. In order to have the hollow be gradual instead of a sharp angle, the rope was adjusted until it made a nice curve. This was also marked in pencil, then marked over again in permanent marker. The same process was followed for the other three sides of the sail, except that instead of adding hollow, we added roach by measuring the prescribed amount out from the centre of the line on that particular side.

While the second layout was going on, other crew members were breaking down the sewing machine and getting it ready to transport back to the ship. We took one brief photograph in front of Roy’s, then got all of the people and all of the equipment back into the skiff to go back to the ship. The rest of the work on the sail, which will include finishing the edges, adding grommets, adding reef points and roping, will be done on board while the ship is underway as the sail doesn’t have to be laid out flat to do that work. This project will be a quick one as we intend to hand the sail over to John and the mighty and famous cariacou Sloop Mermaid in Panama.

laying out the sail in the parking lot
Logan, Nadja and Rebecca tape the seams
Rebecca sews with help from the team
starting a new seam

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Wednesday May 26, 2010

What a great time we have been having in sweet Anguilla. This tropical island port is a perfect first stop on a long voyage out to the Pacific and around the world – nice and relaxing after a North Atlantic passage. Ashore, nothing for the off-watch to do but swim, snorkel, sit on the beach, listen to reggae music and calypso and meet folks and play dominos. A lot of people from the bay here at Sandy Ground, Anguilla remember Picton Castle from her visit here just over a year ago, and the welcome back for the ship and her crew has been enchantingly warm.

The duty watch have also been having a good time, working on ship projects in the morning, maybe a swim call at lunch break, more projects in the afternoon, then wrapping up in time for another swim call and maybe some time on the rope swing off the fore yard-arm before supper. And we have been practicing in rowing as a team in the long-boat at the end of the days. The first day here the 8-12 watch got lots of rustbusting done, so each day since then we’ve been layering on coats of primer before final painting. Footropes aloft on the yards are getting tarred, the overhead in the breezeway is being painted tropical blue. It has rained briefly each evening during our stay, meaning that we’ve had to dry the cotton canvas sails. We do this by loosing them to let the canvas hang from the yards so the sun can do its work. This also means that we have to stow the sails at the end of the day, which takes a bit of time for one watch, which is one third of the crew, to do. But it is good practice aloft, too.

The currency in Anguilla is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, or EC for short. On the $10EC bill, there is a picture of a schooner called the Warspite, which was the last of Anguilla’s wooden schooners. Warspite was used to transport people and goods between islands in the Caribbean, including moving salt from Anguilla’s salt ponds to Trinidad. Unfortunately, Warspite was destroyed in a hurricane in 1984. We were very pleased to meet Sir Emile Gumbs in Anguilla, former Master of the Warspite and have him aboard. Our Captain remembers the Warspite well when he was a kid and the schooner was trading regularly to St. Thomas and Roadtown, Tortola. He says she was the prettiest and best sailing working schooner in the Caribbean when he was young.

We finally caught up with shipmate Deb, who sailed on the Atlantic Voyage, Wednesday evening. She now lives in Anguilla and, together with her partner Laurie, owns the Carriacou sloop Tradition. We thought we would miss seeing them as they were in Canada when we arrived, but they returned home just in time. Deb was telling us all about her latest adventures, including five weeks in Carriacou while Tradition was hauled out of the water for maintenance.

Next Monday is Anguilla Day, the biggest holiday of the year in Anguilla. Round the island boat races, carnival in the streets, Sandy Ground filled with people and music, even a reggae festival. We won’t be able to stay to celebrate this year, but perhaps we’ll be back for Anguilla Day next year…

Michael, Logan and Meredith relax on the beach at Sandy Ground
PICTON CASTLE at anchor in Anguilla
WARSPITE on the 10 EC bill

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Arrival in Anguilla

0730 – beautiful warm sultry tropical Caribbean morning – winds have backed into the ESE and blow steady and fresh, sky has plenty blue in it, still some squall clouds about – shoals of tiny flying fish shoot across the seas surface from time to time. One has graciously landed aboard overnight for Chibleys breakfast – we are coming up on Anguilla, our first land fall.

The 8-12 watch first spotted Anguilla this morning, but by about 1100 all hands were awake and looking out over the rail at land as we approached. Shortly after noon (ship’s time, which was 1100 local Anguilla time), we dropped the starboard anchor in about five fathoms of water in Road Bay, Anguilla’s main anchorage. The Captain, mate Rebecca, medical officer Dr. Krista and I went ashore to clear the ship in through immigration and customs, which went smoothly, the nice ladies at Customs/Immigration remembered us from our last – they even smiled when they mentioned this! Their office is right on the beach up from the small boat dock and it was air conditioned, not a bad feature today as it is unusually hot, sun beating down through a high haze and reflecting sharply back up from the creamy beach sand – also, the sun is virtually overhead. Back at the ship, after an all-hands swim call, the 8-12 took the watch for the day, leaving the other two watches free to go ashore and check out the island.

As it happens, today is WhitMonday, a national holiday. Next Monday is Anguilla Day, the biggest national holiday of them all. On both these days, there are races for local boats, each lovingly built and sailed by different owners and communities around the island. These 18 or so boats look sleek and smooth on the outside like fiberglass does, but they’re actually made of wood. And they are big, 35-40 and 45’ long evolved from the old time fishing sail boats they used to have. The sails on these boats are huge for the size of the hull, the boom extending far beyond the transom and the main sheet attached to the boom only about a third of the way along. And they’re packed with people – a few folks to handle lines (they only have a main and a jib, so there are just a handful of lines), a helmsman and a bunch of people as ballast/bailers. Depending on the strength of the wind they might have 20 crew. The race started and ended in Road Bay, so we were able to watch. I saw them on the horizon returning to finish the race, turned my back for just a few minutes and they had already crossed – these boats are fast. Designed, built, crewed and skippered by Anguillans, this may by one of the largest match regattas in the western hemisphere – it certainly is fun and exciting to be in amongst. By the way, The Sloop Real Deal won by a mile this time…

Where it’s a holiday and there’s a big boat race going on, Sandy Ground village is packed with people. We make regularly scheduled runs with our skiff from the ship to shore, and the skiff coxswains have to be very careful approaching the dinghy dock because of all the swimmers, children and adults, in the area. A good way to strike up a conversation with anyone from Anguilla is to ask them which boat is the best – apparently Anguillans feel the same way about these boats that many North Americans feel about their favourite NHL, NBA or NFL team.

The on watch have been working on some rust busting and painting projects, many of which are hard to do while the ship is underway. The white stripe at the top of the ladder to the quarterdeck was repainted, the rail around the ladder from the quarterdeck to the breezeway has been rustbusted and primed and the new hardwood floor in the charthouse has been treated. Under chief mate Michael’s direction, the on watch launched the long-boat and went rowing in this tropical bay. Just before supper the swing rope was rigged from the fore yardarm, which will surely bring hours of entertainment during swim calls.

While a stop in Anguilla was unplanned, it is certainly welcome. We anticipate being here until Thursday afternoon, so each watch will be on duty for one day and have two days off. If today is any indication, there’s lots of relaxing, exploring and unwinding to be done.

Anguilla beaches
Dan on the swing rope
REAL DEAL racing in Anguilla
The Picton Castle Anchored in Anguilla

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Anguilla Bound

Captain’s Log – Anguilla Bound

Sunday May 23. 2010

Yesterday morning the Captain posted this notice on the door to the main salon scuttle (where all important notices for Picton Castle crew are posted):

“Announcing –

In order to put some sand between our toes and have a little fun ashore

And after an excellent but none the less strenuous North Atlantic Passage to the tropics

And due to the expectation of poor and even contrary winds for the next few days in the Caribbean Sea Basin about the time the Picton Castle should be entering said sea

We are putting in to the island of Anguilla for a couple days

One watch on, two watches free, small boat handling, tropical anchor watches, etc

ETA Monday May 24, 2010 – AM”

Our intention on this passage was to go directly from Lunenburg to Panama, but stopping at a Caribbean island is never really a bad idea. We’ve had about as good a passage in the North Atlantic as one could ask for and I think the crew would all be just as happy to continue on for the remaining 1000nm to Panama, but once the announcement was made, this pleasant surprise seemed to put a smile on everyone’s faces and a spring in their step.

The announcement was posted at 1115 and by lunch time, it was the talk of the ship. The Lonely Planet guide book for the Caribbean Islands was in high demand, and anyone who has been to Anguilla before was quizzed completely. It makes me smile to know that regardless of the individuals aboard, the first things I’m always asked about are laundry, internet and bank machines. The Captain will hold a muster later today to fill everyone in on local culture and customs, what to do (greet everyone before doing business with them) and not do (don’t wear your bathing suit in town, spearfishing is illegal) to get along with the people who live there, and suggestions for places to go and things to see and do.

Part of the beauty of Anguilla is that there isn’t a lot to do besides relax on white sand beaches, maybe go scuba diving (Anguilla has some great wreck dives) and enjoy the numerous beachfront restaurants and beach bar-shacks (the kind to make Jimmy Buffet envious), many with live music. Picton Castle was most recently in Anguilla in March 2009, when our visit coincided with the Moonsplash Reggae Festival, an annual event hosted by renowned Anguillan reggae musician Bankie Banx at his restaurant/bar/live music venue the Dune Preserve. The place was packed when we were there last, and fantastic around the clock live music, but the multi-level almost treehouse-style wooden structure, roofed in many places by old boats, would be worth checking out again.

While we’re anchored off Sandy Ground at Road Bay, Anguilla, once the site of schooner and smuggling sloop building, each watch will have a day on duty on board the ship and two days off to explore the island. There will be plenty of opportunity to practice small boat handling as there will be regularly scheduled skiff runs back and forth between the ship and the dock. There are always projects to be done that are saved for times when the ship is not underway, and each crew member will stand their first night watch at anchor in the tropics.

At 0645 the winds came ahead after a squall from the south so we fired up the main engine to continue to push us on towards Anguilla. This off weather is all to do with the gales of the low east of the Bahamas twirlling out there causing mischief. The squalls we have been experiencing for the past two days have continued today, bringing with them rain and shifting wind. Lookouts are getting plenty of practice with spotting squalls on the horizon and helmsmen are becoming good at falling off quickly once the officer of the watch gives them the order.

With today being Sunday, Donald has the day off and there are, once again, guest chefs in the galley. Davey, Meredith and Michael put together chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs and really yummy fruit salad for breakfast, then warm sandwiches with cheese and bacon on homemade bread for lunch – cheese and bacon, two of the four food groups… I haven’t yet wandered up to the galley to snoop on supper…

Lauren, Julie and Rebecca take up on braces

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Captain’s Log – Blustery

Saturday May 22, 2010

The Captain held a muster on the quarterdeck before supper yesterday to talk about our North Atlantic passage, south to the West Indies and Caribbean Sea from Nova Scotia. Using a white board, he illustrated our track so far, all has gone according to the passage plan we talked about in Lunenburg. The Picton Castle sailed a big S-curve out of Lunenburg that had us heading to the south west upon leaving Nova Scotia, then south, and south east crossing the Gulf Stream, then coming more east around Bermuda before heading due south again and south west as we aim for the Anegada Passage into the Caribbean Sea. While we’re about 1600nm from Lunenburg on a straight course, we’ve actually sailed about 1800nm or maybe more, given the curve of our route. Probably close to 2,000 miles by the time we are in the Caribbean Sea. Why sail such a curvy route if it’s going to add more distance? Well, the route we’ve taken has allowed us to take most advantage of the prevailing wind and weather conditions, allowing us in a sailing ship to make the most of them. Schooners and trading barks have been taking routes like this from New England and Nova Scotia bound for the Caribbean for hundreds of years.

We’re in fresh trade winds now, the consistent tropical winds that will carry us most of the way around the world. The trades are not as consistent in our current location as they usually are, given a low pressure system over the Bahamas that is having an effect and stirring up gales over there. As a result, we’re experiencing some bouncier swell, a partly overcast sky, occasional squalls and winds well south of east. The watches are getting practice with snappy sail handling, taking in outer jib, spanker, royals and sometimes t’gallants as squalls approach, and helmsmen are learning to fall off quickly in wind shifts.

From the Anegada Passage, our chosen route between the islands of the Lesser Antilles to the Caribbean Sea, where we’ll have the Virgin Islands on our starboard side and Anguilla and St. Martin on our port side, the passage to Panama will be another 1000nm. By that point, we hope to be in more conventional easterly trade winds, beyond the effects of the pesky low hovering off the Bahamas.

While sailing into the Caribbean Sea will mark a milestone, yesterday marked another milestone – our official entry into the tropics! We passed below 23 and a half degrees north, and we’ll stay in the tropics until we leave the Indian Ocean, sailing south around the Cape of Good Hope. It certainly feels tropical – crew are in t-shirts and shorts, and there’s lots of speculation about when the wind and swell might moderate enough for us to have our first swim call.

Captain shows our route
Siri singing in the rain on helm

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Sailin’ Along

Midday – May 20, 2010 – – 25-39n / 058-37w – – winds ESE – about 15 knots

Looks like we are in the famous easterly trade-winds. These winds that blow from the west coast of Africa from Senegal across the Atlantic finding their way to the wind swept and sun kissed isles of the West Indies. The Picton Castle is sailing along braced up sharp on the port tack, our good crew steering south with these trade winds on the port beam – all sail that is bent aloft on yard or stay is set and drawing – sky is a burning blue, seas are small with the occasional white cap but it is mostly just blue, royal blue, silver blue, turquoise blue maybe. All hands in shorts and short sleeve shirts (and hats and sun-glasses and SPF 2,000 goop) – the gang is filling in the deck log now – Time, compass course, course made good, log distance for the hour, wind force, wind direction, swell height, swell direction, visibility, barometer, weather in general and anything else of significance. The hard one really is true wind direction. And Latitude and longitude and any course changes, sail changes etc. This requires a good deal of observation and analysis to get it right. But that is the whole point, to learn to accurately observe and analyze conditions and then record them. Small jobs are getting done, painting here and there, little rigging jobs, cleaning odd corners, whippings on lines, end for ending lines for even wear, dishes-always dishes to do, galley and scullery to clean and clean again, folks up on the well deck making some new baggywrinkle. Name of the ship getting painted on the boats. Take your trick at the wheel, keep the Picton Castle on course, steering South by West or as we annotate, SxW, keep a good look out, one of the fundamentals of seafaring and good seamanship. Yes, that is all going on by each and everyone here in this small barque under full sail making her way into these tropics. First flying fish have been spied swooping to winward.

And then we have our off-watch gang. We see a few people spread out on the green canvas cargo hatch cover midships with books, knitting, making sheaths for knife and spike, napping, maybe with little music boxes with wires snaking towards the ears for some private music, pretty sweet. The temperature is perfect, the seas small, wind fresh and balmy, ship almost steering herself, Lunenburg is a thousand miles astern, many many sea miles ahead…and islands…no doubt thoughts of home too.

Chow onboard – Lunch – well, we had roast turkey yesterday so obviously we had turkey soup or maybe you might call it stew today and for supper – – drum roll…Adams & Knickle Scallops fresh off the F/V Chocklecap, Freedom 99 or Cachalot landed right in Lunenburg fresh from Georges Banks! And basmati rice, olive salad and chocolate cake.

Liam on lookout
Sophie paints letters on the boat

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Making Southing

Until this point, the ship’s log has been kept by the watch officers while the ship is underway. Starting today, trainees are filling in a rough log after their turn on helm. They’re learning that we record our position every hour, on the hour, and that we also make hourly notes on true wind direction and force, swell height and swell direction, barometric pressure, visibility and weather including clouds. Of course they all have to learn how to make all these assessments. They have a bit of experience from doing this on night watches in Lunenburg, but now that we are at sea there is much more keep an eye and now they get to learn how it’s all properly observed and recorded.

This is our second full day of motoring consistently southward. Some wind has picked up, but it’s from the direction we want to go. According to the forecast, it is supposed to back towards the east, making it much more useable for us. We continue to check in with Herb of Southbound II for his weather forecast broadcast daily on the single side band radio for vessels at sea in the North Atlantic, the weather fax consistently spits out drawings of North Atlantic wind and wave and surface forecasts and we’re getting weather by email as well. Somewhere around 25-26 north latitude we should pick up some tradewinds. With all the other vessels we heard Captain Tom Gallant in the mighty Schooner Avenger north of Bermuda bound for Lunenburg too.

Chibley seems to be back to her usual cool indifference, stalking around the deck and experimenting with naps in different bunks. We had a small bird as a passenger for most of yesterday afternoon, flying around the ship and landing on the transom to rest between flights. Chibley was unaware of our feathered passenger, which is just as well. She is pretty hard on small birds.

Donald made one of his specialties for breakfast – meat doughnuts – these are Grenadian/West Indian specialty. They are called “bakes”. You may wonder how meat and doughnuts go together, but it’s like a jelly filled doughnut, except the jelly is corned beef. There were cheese doughnuts for the vegetarians, and this morning the doughnuts were accompanied by oatmeal and sliced cantaloupe. Lunch featured one of my favourite Donald soups, rich with beans, potatoes and squash, along with homemade bread, pasta salad and leftover pasta with tomato sauce. Apart from headwinds the weather is fine and seas aren’t big either. So everything is good.

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High Pressure Near Bermuda

Captain’s Log – High Pressure near Bermuda

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Maggie Ostler

Around 2000 last night the nice NW sailing wind we were experiencing gave up altogether; so we took in and furled all sail and fired up the main engine to push on southward. We’re sitting under a high pressure system with little wind currently and little prospect of wind coming in the near future, so we’re making tracks for where the wind is. This is typical of the area around Bermuda.

Motoring like this isn’t so bad – the sun is still shining, the sky is blue with occasional light puffs of clouds and the water becomes a more vibrant turquoise blue by the day. It is good weather to get work done and laundry taken care of. There is the constant thrum and gentle vibration of the mighty B&W Alpha and a lack of white canvas overhead, but we’re doing okay. We’re hoping to see the first signs of trade winds in about 300nm, the sweet consistent winds that will carry us around the world.

There’s a gentle adjustment to warmer weather happening, the temperature rising by a few degrees daily. At 1300 the thermometer in the charthouse reports that it’s 24 degrees Celsius. We’re seeing more bare arms and legs as the crew don t-shirts, tank tops and shorts, shoes are disappearing but wisely folks are starting to wear hats and make sunscreen application part of their daily routine. The sea is also about 24 degrees Celsius (78 degrees F), not so bad.

Chibley was not seen on deck at all this morning, I think she’s still suffering embarrassment from yesterday. In celebration of Norwegian national day, Nadja made Chibley a t-shirt that says “I love Norwegian fish” on the back. For those of you who know her, getting Chibley to even wear her collar can be a challenge, so the t-shirt really made her cranky. From the time Nadja dressed her before the parade until about 2030 when Julie found her hiding in a corner of the companionway and removed the offending clothing, Chibley disappeared from view entirely. I don’t think she’s over it yet. She was squawking at the Captain about this in his cabin last night.

Donald continues to work miracles in the galley. This morning’s breakfast was scrambled eggs, whole wheat rolls, oatmeal and sliced cantaloupe. Donald even carved a fancy sunburst into one cantaloupe rind and the word “love” into another. Good presentation makes yummy things taste even better. Lunch was giant hamburgers on fresh baked whole wheat buns with cranberries, and a bit of veggie pizza for the non-meat-eaters. For supper is a big huge roast, with broccoli, potatoes and more whole wheat rolls.

Georgie and Via on the upper tops l brace
Leonard on the fore brace

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Norwegian National Day

Captain’s Log

Monday May 17, 2010

Maggie Ostler

Another beautiful day in our little barque. Before supper yesterday the Captain held a muster on the quarterdeck to explain the weather outlook to all hands, breaking the news that the wind was likely to die out, requiring us to fire up the mighty Burmeister & Wain Alpha diesel engine and push south for two or three days until we can find the wind again. The wind has held on through today, between Force 3 and 4, keeping us sailing along between 3 and 5 knots per hour.

With it being Monday, it’s time for ship’s work to begin again. Under the direction of bosun WT, there were a number of different projects underway today. Liam, Shawn, Katie and Michael were all working on the long boat at different points, sanding, then tacking down and painting. Fred was greasing turnbuckles, Niko and Nadia were helping chief mate Michael replace a serving on the standing end of a halyard pennant. The ash capstan bars were being scraped, the caulking around the galley house roof was being overhauled, and the skylight on the quarterdeck was being rust-busted and primed.

Throughout the day, anticipation was high for the Norwegian National Day celebrations which started at 1700. Everyone dressed in red, blue and white, (in our flag book there are 42 countries with red, white and blue as their national colors) and under the direction of our two Norwegian crew, Siri and Johanna, there was a parade around the deck, from the well deck to the quarterdeck, past the viewing stand with the Captain, mate, cook and engineer, past the helm, and back down to the cargo hatch amidships. The 4 to 8 watch were all dressed like Norwegian ski jumpers and presented their ski jumping dance, the 12 to 4 watch were dressed to showcase all things Norwegian (including the king and queen, the midnight sun, and the Edward Munch painting of the Scream) and the 8 to 12 watch sang a song about their favourite parts of Norway. Following the presentations, there was a traditional Norwegian potato-on-a-spoon race that also involved an element of trivia about Norway. Donald presented the typical Norwegian national day dinner, hot dogs and potato salad – yep, that’s what Siri said is traditional.

The crew have set the bar quite high for celebrating special occasions. We have lots of opportunities to celebrate – with an international crew representing nine different countries, there will be plenty of occasions.

8 to 12 loves Norway
Foc sle won the grand prize!
Norwegian Ski Jumping Team aka the 4 to 8 watch

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