Thursday, June 28th, 2012
By Kate “Bob” Addison
June 22, 2012
It’s Friday morning and there’s an air of quiet industry here aboard Picton Castle, at anchor off Old Harbour, Block Island. We sailed in yesterday, dropped the hook just before midday.
We sailed up the lee (east) side of Block Island in the early morning sun and light westerly breezes. As the morning wore on more small sportfishing boats came out to their favorite spots just off the island, just in time for us to sail through them! Styling we were, tacking the ship and sailing onto the hook with just Siri’s watch plus idlers, no more than ten at the lines – Donald looking after the foresheets just as the cook would have done in a commercial sailing ship back when ships like ours were commonplace. Let go the lee sheet, haul away the weather! The sheets are right by the galley of course, and Donald is terribly talented. The ship would have had about the same crew as just one watch in those days too: the big salon full of cargo not bunks for trainee crew, so it’s nice that we’re getting good enough to sail her well, just as they would have done.
We looked very pretty there in the sunshine, squares set to the royals as we skirted the island to make our anchorage. People out fishing from small boats seemed very surprised to see us, maybe because we’re so quiet slipping along under sail, look up from your fishing rod and bam! Square rigger! White sails held aloft in a great pyramid, crew bustling around – climbing up things and hauling on lines. It’s almost like they don’t get ships sailing up to anchor much in these parts anymore. We sailed right up to the breakwater at the harbour’s entrance.
But it’s all in a day’s work aboard Picton Castle. And now, here at anchor, all hands are doing ship’s work in the mornings, one watch peeling off to stretch their legs ashore each afternoon. It’s good conditions to practice driving the skiff for the runs ashore too. Lots of projects going on: Drea and Siri are up on the quarterdeck mending the old foresail; Niko, Alex and Gabe in the Monomoy cleaning and prepping for painting; Aase and Elisabeth giving the decks a nice drink of oil – a matched pair of Danish sailor-girls working away in each breezeway. Sam is varnishing the sailmaking benches up on the foc’sle head. Donald cooking something delicious in his galley, with his team of assistants cleaning and sorting Tupperware in the scullery. Captain and I are busily tapping away at computers in the office.
In fact the only soul aboard not busy with something is young ship’s cat George. Sprawled out in the office, head lolling and paws akimbo. His life is one of luxurious idleness. The only sign he’s still alive is the furry tiger belly rising and falling and the occasional whisker twitch as he takes relaxing to the extreme.