Captain's Log

Archive for June, 2015

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Day’s Run – June 25, 2015

From dawn till dusk today was the crew working on getting the ship into top shape during the morning then pulled together wonderfully to take part in the Parade of Sails at approx 13:30. We had the distinction of being one of the only ships to actually set all sails during the parade. Coming alongside the docks on the Philly side we had a crowd of people watching our every move. I can only imagine how many photos were taken of the lot of us. Once the last sail was stowed we went directly into set up mode for the reception being held on board from 7-10pm. Port watch was on for the night and they did a wonderful job making sure our guests were safe while aboard. The party was a rounding success despite the pesky rain.

SHIP’S WORK: Spot painted seizings and t’gallant rail; ospho bulwarks midships

Sea stowing sails

NOON POSITION: 39°56.5’N /076°08.2’W
DAYS RUN: 29.2 nm
COURSE AND SPEED: 6.25kts, PPO (Per Pilots Order)
WIND: Southwest, 3
WEATHER: Sunny day, barometer 1021 millibars, visibility good
SAILS SET: All sails

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Day’s Run – June 24, 2015

DATE: June 24, 2015

REMARKS: With a pilot on board by 11:30 pm last night we hauled anchor just after midnight and began the journey towards Philadelphia/Camden, travelling through the Upper Cheasapeak Bay, C&D Canal and Delaware river. There were plenty of boat and buoys to be seen so a lookout was posted throughout the day. Unfortunately we did have to motor the whole way but this also allowed us more time to get the ship looking great for the festival this weekend. Just prior to dinner we dropped anchor again with Philly on one side and Camden on the other where we have an interesting view of the tall ships and military vessels that have arrived so far. A little more TLC tomorrow and the ship will be ready for being open to the public during the festival.

SHIP’S WORK: Cleaning quarterdeck and mizzen mast; painting mizzen mast; spot paint ceasings, quarterdeck rail & edges, foc’sl edges; replace port upper and lower brace and brace penants.


NOON POSITION: 39°39.3’N /075°32.6’W
COURSE AND SPEED: PPO (Per Pilots Order)
WEATHER: Sunny day, barometer 1021 millibars, visibility good
SAILS SET: Headsails and spanker

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Day’s Run – June 23, 2015

Unexpectedly we spent another day anchored in Annapolis today.
Starboard watch hopped the skiff to shore after breakfast while Port watch got busy with a few projects the Bosun had lined up. What I learned is that doing fine, detailed painting close to the waterline while in the skiff, on a day with a steady stream of swells and wakes is an interesting endeavour. The truly exciting part of the day though was shortly after dinner, when the darkening sky overtook our anchored position. Wow did that wind and rain come up fast! The crew as one jumped into action, responding quickly to each command issued by the Captain. Our second anchor was dropped and the yards braced to a sharp tack to help us from dragging too far. An hour later the storm had blown itself out, leaving behind a lightning show off the port side and a stunning, blazing orange sunset on the other.

SHIP’S WORK: Shifted mains’l to Course E; spot painted black and white.

Fast stowing due to incoming storm

NOON POSITION: 38°58.7’N /076°28.2’W
WEATHER: Sunny day, barometer 1018 millibars, visibility good

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Day’s Run – June 22, 2015

REMARKS: Coming into Annapolis we were escorted by all kinds of marine craft. Some stayed with us for a while, some came by for a quick look then motored off at top speed. We’ve a busy week ahead so the Captain kept the projects to a minimum and gave each watch some time ashore.

SHIP’S WORK: Painted skiff topsides & transom; painted bowsprit shrouds; fibreglass transom; spot painted t’gallant, midships topsides and port bulwarks.

Yeah I'm looking at you

NOON POSITION: 38°58.7’N /076°28.2’W
WEATHER: Sunny day, barometer 1019 millibars, visibility good
SAILS SET: Coming into Annapolis we had all sails set

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Day’s Run – June 21, 2015

DATE: June 21, 2015
REMARKS: The crew worked hard and fast today, raising the skiff and Sea Never Dry back onto the ship first, then hauling up both port and starboard anchors all by 10:00 am. We are now under full sail on our way to Annapolis. Rounding Point Lookout gave us plenty of sail handling today too. As we will not arrive until tomorrow morning, after lunch we went back to sea watches with Starboard taking 12-6 and Port 6-12.

SHIP’S WORK: Sunday = Funday!

Dinner during Port watch 21 june

TOWARDS: Annapolis, MD
NOON POSITION: 38°02.1’N /076°22.5’W
COURSE AND SPEED: Southeast, Course made good 120° true, 4.4 knots
WIND: Force 1, northwest
WEATHER: Sunny day, barometer 1015 millibars, visibility good
SAILS SET: At noon we had all sails set.

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Day’s Run – 20 June, 2015

DATE: June 20, 2015

REMARKS: The ship is looking absolutely beautiful. With the topsides and the waterline freshly painted she looks like a brand new ship. The excitement yesterday was again later in the evening when we had the remnants of a tropical storm blow through. For about 30 minutes the wind whipped by and the rain poured down in what can only be termed as a

SHIP’S WORK: Painted the waterline; shifted the foresail.

Siri singing in the rain on helm

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Day’s Run: June 19, 2015

DATE: June 19, 2015

REMARKS: With a birthday both yesterday and today it seemed like a perfect time for the first Marlin Spike of the summer voyage! Oddly enough this also corresponded with Sweden’s Midsummer celebration which we rung in with pints of beautiful strawberries.

SHIP’S WORK: Painted all the topsides; painted chains in the headrig; Cleared in and out of Maryland.

Topher 19 june

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Captain’s Log – Lunenburg, NS to Cape Charles, VA

Written by Ashley Mulock

We’ve been at anchor for two nights now at the mouth of the York River on Chesapeake Bay, enough time to reflect back on the journey that brought us here. Sailing in under clear blue skies and a cool breeze it hardly seems real that only two days ago we were dashing about the ship in full foully (foul weather) gear, shivering with cold every time we stopped moving for any length of time. Instead, we now stand free of sopping wet clothes sailing through the engineering marvel that is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It’s a little surreal being on a ship that operates as it would have 100 years ago at the same time as passing by a bridge that goes on as far as the eye can see and then having it convert to a tunnel and disappear under the water over which we sail.

A little further down the Bay we spied the tall ship the Eagle in the middle of training maneuvers. Seeing this gives us a window into understanding what people experience when the PICTON CASTLE sails into a port. We are almost as in awe of the sight as everyone else. Not twenty minutes later the L’Hermione passed alongside us, both crews enthusiastically waving away. Imagine our starts of surprise when they fired two rounds of their ceremonial canons right across from us! Flashes of every pirate show or movie ever seen whips across the mind’s eye in the split second it takes the brain to process the showmanship of the maneuver. Talk about getting the heart pumping in a hurry. Already the voyage exceeds the expectations of what we might see and do while aboard.
When we left Lunenburg two weeks ago (has it only been two weeks?!) we were a mixed bag of seasoned professionals, experienced amateurs and full on greenhorns of all ages and nationalities. As we pulled away from the dock and headed out to sea we were all finally faced with the reality of living and working with a multitude of different personalities all colliding together in a fairly small environment. Somehow, in the coming weeks, we are to form a cohesive, functioning unit. Amazingly, test number one came the very day we set sail under a barrage of hail and a wind that chilled to the bone. Yet we all pulled together, helping wherever we could and bid adieu to Canada. When the day was done and I looked around at my fellow shipmates there was nary a frown to be seen. There was excitement, anticipation, a little bit of exhaustion and perhaps a tiny amount trepidation as to what exactly we all signed up for.

What did we all sign up for anyway? Personally, I wanted an adventure. An experience that was bigger than any given individual, where the people aboard come together innumerable times every day to make things happen on the ship. Not a single sail can be set by one person alone just as the daily chores go by a lot faster when there are a team of people set to tackle them instead of a lone soul. As we sailed out of the Lunenburg harbor, and indeed for the next 4-5 days of cold and wet Canadian spring sailing, the shipmates care for and dependence on each other was immediately apparent. Whether it was Donald whipping up batch after batch of hot chocolate to help keep us warm, to runners of hot tea towels/beverages to shipmates on helm or lookout, to the sharing of warm clothes as more and more of our gear failed to dry out, everyone pulled together as a crew. “A clam sea did never a good sailor make” – my Dad told me this before I signed onto the PICTON CASTLE and it has proven true as we stared down the inclement weather and came out the other end a more responsive and knowledgeable crew.

One of the most important things we do while aboard is drill for emergencies. Right from the getgo, before we even took the mooring lines off the dock, we were practicing the man overboard, fire and abandon ship drills. Indeed, over the past fourteen days we have drilled one or more of these emergency procedures every three to four days. We’ve also gone through how to set up the safety nets and lines to clip into should the weather and sea turn really rough. This practice, which is so important for our overall knowledge, helps us to become increasingly confident and efficient with the tasks we’ve been assigned to complete during an emergency. The end goal, of course, is that should something happen while underway our training will take over and the situation will be responded to with the best of our abilities.

As to this end we also had a go at putting on the survival suits. These suits are designed to keep us warm and dry for a time if for whatever reason we end up in the water. They seal us in from the tips of our toes (rubber boots), to our wrists, hands and head (snug neoprene hood plus wrist cuffs and attached mitts to put on last) and are packed full of insulation to help a body stay warm. When the order was given to suit up it was a mass of awkwardness and laughter. Imagine twenty-two people trying to sort out all at once whether or not to kick off existing shoes, hauling the whole suit up and then zipping up so close and snug to the neck that for a few minutes it looked like the entire crew had spotted an actual flying pig and were craning about to get a better view. The laughter really kicked in as we all began to take the suit off and quickly realized that hands slide through tight neoprene better in one direction than the other. Even me, who has fairly small wrists, was envisioning how I was going to go about for the next eight weeks wearing a huge orange one piece survival suit because I was literally stuck inside. Fortunately this kind hilarity not only breeds photographs but helps forge stronger bonds amongst the crew and we had each other free once again in relatively good time. All humour aside though, knowing exactly how to don the survival suits quickly can save our lives so gaining the firsthand experience of trying them on prepares us for a worst case scenario.

The other main stream of knowledge that we have been increasing by giant leaps is that of sail handling. Since our departure from Lunenburg the wind has proven to be as elusive as it is gentle. We have been frequently setting sails, bracing yards and adjusting angels to harness even the slightest power the wind can give us. Inside of two weeks I have watched as our new trainees have gone from the deer in the headlights look to one of inquisitive competence. They ask questions when they need to and are always open to someone with more experience helping them to learn the safe way of doing things. Additionally it helps that if it’s noticed that the crew needs to be refreshed on setting or bringing in a particular sail then we will practice on and off for a few days until our skills improve. This has hugely impacted our ability to confidently hear, understand and respond correctly to the sail handling orders that are given. To the layman it may look chaotic but in actuality what people are watching when they see us dashing about the deck or hauling on lines is the result of hours of practice and a dependence on each other to get the job done.

To me this is what the PICTON CASTLE really offers. It is so much more than learning how to sail – albeit on a really cool ship. Here, I am offered the chance to be a part of way of life where every persons contributions matter. The collective whole wants each person to learn as much as they can and become as good as they can because it is safer for the ship and for each other that way. As such, a question asked of anyone aboard is always treated with respect and answered right away. We all want to do better and so we all help each other. Living and working on a tall ship breeds friends and it breeds them fast. What I have found here in only two weeks are people who I will consider friends for the rest of my life. I have found a family of sorts – a family where going off and doing unusual things is the norm instead of the bizarre. On top of that just look at what we get to do and where we get to spend our time. There is nothing quite like the sunrise view from the royal yard while underway. The ocean stretches out in every direction; the glow of the sun as its rays streak across the sky and kiss your face; the ship far below, so tiny as you are so high up. Then one by one your shipmates appear from their bunks to great the new day, with you.

DSCN6285 reduced

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Day’s Run – June 17, 2015

REMARKS: This morning the whole crew worked together on switching out the skiff we’ve been using for the one housed on top of the galley. Port watch then broke off to do some small boat sailing in the Bay while Starboard watch got busy on the ship’s work for the day. At 1630 the Captain led a workshop on how to properly do a serving. He demonstrated first, talking through all of the steps, then each of those who had never done one lined up with someone with experience and we took a turn. Learn by watching and learn by doing – the best combinations for memory retention.

SHIP’S WORK: Tarring royal footropes, t’gallant & main topmast shrouds,; rust converted foc’sl shower porthole; prepared main capstay to go aloft & served lower section; spot painted quarter deck rail; prepared skiff for painting.

Serving Lesson

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Day’s Run – June 16, 2015

DATE: June 16, 2015
REMARKS: Since we are staying here at Ingram Bay for a couple of days we launched the Mautamuy so the watches can take turns doing some small boat sailing. Today was Starboard’s turn. Port watch listened to tunes while we worked and is looking forward to a night in town. The Captain lead a short lesson on how to properly sea stow the sails with the Chief Mate and Bosun doing a demonstration for us all to watch. And now it’s
time for our first swim call!

SHIP’S WORK: Linseed oil on lower shrouds; tarred the rigging below the heads’ls; worked on course E suncloth; wire brushed mizzen stay.


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