Friday, December 16th, 2016
After three months of studying and hands-on practice in Lunenburg, the Bosun School students officially graduated last night.
Picton Castle’s Bosun School is designed for young mariners who want to gain skills to add to their resumes and advance their careers. We have found, in receiving applications from some professional mariners to work aboard Picton Castle, that despite having significant sea time their skill levels are below what we might expect. By taking time to focus on developing these skills in an environment ashore without the natural distractions of sailing the ship, students can see a project through from start to finish and learn the entire process.
Not only do they observe and learn through lecture and demonstrations, they learn primarily through hands-on practice. Using the example of wire splicing, Captain Moreland did a brief introductory lecture, then a demonstration. From there, students made two or three splices of their own, under the supervision of Bosun Gabe. After that, the Captain did a second, more in-depth lesson on wire splicing that they were able to absorb more easily because they had some context of doing the work themselves. Since then, they’ve done many more splices, some on practice wires and some in actual practical applications where their splices will be used aboard Picton Castle.
This session of the Bosun School had a major focus on rigging. Bosun School students sent yards down back in September when the school began and they worked on overhauling them through October and November, taking off all the standing rigging and blocks, inspecting and repairing or replacing portions as necessary, and overhauling the yards themselves. Some of Picton Castle’s yards are steel (the course yards, lower topsail yards and upper topsail yards) so students learned how to deal with rust, removing it and putting coatings on to prevent rust and seal the steel. Some of Picton Castle’s yards are wooden (the t’gallant yards and royal yards) so students have done some work with wood preparation and varnishing (on a few other projects like deck boxes as well).
Sailmaking has been one of the other main areas of study at this Bosun School. Students have learned a variety of repair methods depending on what’s called for in each situation. Some repairs need to be quick and not-so-pretty, others need to be meticulously well done when there is time and space to do it. Students also worked on sail construction projects, laying out a new outer jib, seaming it together, then adding the tabling, corner patches, grommets, roping and all other finishing. By being part of constructing a sail from start to finish, they have a greater understanding of all of the components of a sail, how they work together and how and why to look after them.
This past week, as we have been wrapping up a number of projects, students have been meeting individually with Captain Moreland for career counselling sessions. They’ve been talking about short-term plans as well as longer term plans. At the graduation ceremony last night, each student received a certificate of completion that outlines the skills they’ve practised that they’ll be able to use when they apply for jobs in the future.