Captain's Log

Archive for December, 2016

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Bosun School Graduation

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.

Join us in sending congratulations to all of the Bosun School students on successful completion of the course!img_2338

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Hiring Staff Crew for Rendezvous 2017

Picton Castle carries a full complement of 52 people, which includes 40 trainee crew and 12 professional crew. While trainee crew don’t need to have any experience sailing, our professional crew are qualified, certified, knowledgeable mariners with hands-on experience. Because Picton Castle is a training ship they have to not only be excellent seafarers, they also have to be able to teach and lead by example.

We’re now accepting applications for staff crew positions on our Rendezvous 2017 voyage which takes place next summer. We’re looking for mates, engineers and lead seamen.

All applicants must have, at a minimum, STCW Basic Safety Training and at least a year of experience on traditional sailing vessels (preference is given to those with square rig experience). We prefer to hire lead seamen with their AB (USA), Bridge Watch Rating (Canada) or their national equivalent. Mate applicants must have at least a 500 ton oceans license. Mariners of all nationalities are welcome to apply.

To apply, please email your CV and a cover letter that tells us more about you, your experience and why you want to work aboard Picton Castle to

Taking in topmast studdingsail 2

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Snowy Day in Lunenburg

We’re not used to seeing the decks of our mostly tropical-sailing barque covered in snow, but that they are today. It’s not a good day to be working outdoors so Bosun School students are indoors, working on wrapping up a number of projects as they begin their last full week of classes.


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Crossing Yards

Thursday December 8, 2016

What comes down out of the rig must go back up! Bosun School students sent down yards back in September, they have overhauled all the standing rigging attached to the yards, overhauled the yards themselves, and are now crossing the topsail yards again. The first one to go up was the main upper topsail yard, which was crossed this morning. Gabe and Kimba guided it up from the wharf, Anne Laure was aloft to receive it, while Ashling, Liz, Niko, Jason, Aaron and Polina worked the capstan to do the heavy lifting, all under Captain Moreland’s watchful eye.






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Conference Time in Sweden

Captain Moreland and I just got home to Lunenburg from the Sail Training International conference in Halmstad, Sweden.

This is an annual conference, held in various places around the world, for tall ship operators, owners, crew, host ports, and anyone else interested in sail training.  We try to participate, representing Picton Castle, as often as possible.  Halmstad will host the Tall Ships Races this coming summer so the conference was also hosted there, in the Tylosand Hotel, a pretty swanky hotel/resort with a huge modern art collection overlooking a beach on the Kattegat, an extension of the Skagerrak and the North Sea, that’s seven kilometres long. 20161126_143859-reduced20161122_130136-reduced

To get there, we flew to Copenhagen.  Since the Captain and I are both big fans of Copenhagen and we have shipmates and friends living there, we arranged to stay a day or so there to adjust to the time zone change and do some visiting before heading for Halmstad.  I love all things festive and I have to say that the Danes have holiday spirit figured out, especially at this time of year.  We strolled along the canal in Nyhavn, which used to be where all the sailors came ashore and is now a tourist area, and found all sorts of little booths selling warm drinks, snacks, gifts and souvenirs, all under the glow of Christmas lights and garlands. 20161122_155320-reduced

The day before the conference officially began, we attended a meeting of the Ships Council.  The Ships Council is made up of all ships that want to be members and we communicate, both in person and electronically, about issues of importance to sail training.  Within the Ships Council there is a Tall Ships Forum (of which we’re a member) and the Small Ships Forum (for smaller sail training vessels).  While there are some issues that affect all sail training ship operators, there are some that are more common to larger or smaller ships.  All of Thursday was spent as a whole Ships Council, tall ships and small ships together, discussing things like learning from case studies of accidents and near misses, emergency response plans, and marketing to attract trainees. 20161127_101936-reduced

One of the initiatives Sail Training International has undertaken recently is the website  which is designed to help trainees with no sailing experience or prior knowledge of tall ships find out what the experience is all about, then help them choose a ship to sign aboard.  If you’re in Canada, you may have already seen or heard TV or radio advertising sending people to this website.  We’re excited about any initiative that helps to spread the word about what ships like ours do and gets people on board!20161126_153228-reduced

The conference itself began on Friday November 25 with an update on what Sail Training International has done in the past year and what is coming up in the next few years.  After the one general session for everyone, there were a number of sessions offered at the same time so we were able to choose which to attend.  We received more information about next summer’s Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, we met with a variety of ports that we could potentially visit in the future at a series of speed meetings (like speed dating), and we took in a number of other presentations and discussions throughout Friday and Saturday.20161126_165303-reduced

The last official business of the conference was to present awards to various individuals, ships and programs.  A full list of winners is available here [].  We’re particularly proud of Captain Moreland’s old friend and shipmate Captain Jarle Flatebo who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Sail Training.  Captain Flatebo was most recently the master of the Norwegian ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl, but the two met while they both worked on the Danish state training ship Danmark.20161126_171543-reduced

While we certainly learned from the sessions and workshops offered, perhaps the greatest value in attending a conference like this is the opportunity to meet and talk with people who do things similar to us.  Each ship has its own unique operations and challenges, but there are certain common elements.  By discussing what we each do, asking questions and talking about situations, we can learn from one another, share good ideas, share ideas that didn’t quite work out, and combine resources and knowledge.  It was great to see old friends, catch up with them and what they’re working on now, and to meet new people and make new connections.  We look forward to seeing many of these friends and colleagues again this summer as Picton Castle joins an international fleet of tall ships for the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.





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