Captain's Log

Archive for June, 2017

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Day’s Run – 27 June, 2017

By Ship’s Purser: Allison Steele

Today we heaved up anchor at 0830 and headed to meet our pilot to take us through the Canso Strait. The Canso Strait is the waterway that divides mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. The Canso Canal was created between 1951 and 1953 and connects Chedabucto Bay on the Atlantic Ocean to St. George’s Bay on the Northumberland Strait, a sub-basin of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is 27km long and is around 3km wide and can accommodate any vessel that can travel along the St. Lawrence Seaway. There is a lock system that protects the waterway from the tidal difference between the two bodies of water which can reach up to a meter difference. As we make our way closer to Summerside, the weather has become warmer now that shore is in sight the dark green of land makes a nice contrast to the blue of the water. Days are quiet but busy as we prepare for our next Port and the crew puts their new skills into action with working aloft, rigging and rope projects. Rope mats, in particular, seem to be appearing throughout the day as it is a seemingly simple three step skill but in fact, takes quite a bit of time and attention. Once you start though it’s difficult to put it down until it is complete as there is a certain satisfaction to every task we complete. Not only are rope mats decorative, they also help to protect the deck from blocks that rest on top of it. There is always something new and interesting to learn and the crew is eager to get as much as they can from their time on board.

Fiji the Cat, looking after the rope


Noon Position: 43°44′.3N 061°39′.6W

Day’s Run: 83.9NM

Passage: 519.7NM

Voyage: 3576NM

Distance to Port: 142.3NM

Course and Speed: NW 3.5 knots

Wind: Force 1, variable

Weather: Good



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Day’s Run – 25 June, 2017

By: Purser Allison

Sunday Funday! Sunday at sea means a lighter work day for the crew. Although we are still a 24/7 ship and things still need to be cleaned, meals prepared and of course sailing, the crew will often work on their own projects or those of the ship. There was a splicing and whipping workshop for new crew that was also a chance for others to practice. Splicing is the process of weaving a rope back onto itself or to join to another rope. Sometimes it is to attach to another rope to extend the length and other times it is to create an eye. Whippings are to finish an end or secure the ends of a line to keep it from unravelling. Both are used daily on a ship and are important skills to know so it is good to have time to learn and practice. A few of the crew also made rope mats. It is a three step process that is repeated continually and seems simple enough but if you lose track of where you are in the process you have to start over again! Rope mats are both decorative and serve a purpose as they help to protect the deck in places where a block might rest.

Sunday is also the day off for our cook, Donald Church the Magnificent, so a few lucky chosen crew get to experience what it is like to cook for 46 people! It helps us all to appreciate the hard work that goes into keeping a crew fed, full, strong and ready for work!

Donald Church – Cook’s Day Off!

Noon Position: 44°17′.7N 063°14′.4W

Day’s Run: 141.4NM

Passage: 329.6NM

Voyage: 3386NM

Distance to Port: 324.5NM

Course and Speed: ENE 5.9KTs

Wind: W Force 3-4

Weather: Good

Swell Height and Direction: 1-2 feet W

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Day’s Run – 16 June, 2017

By Purser Allison

While anchored at Nahant just outside of Boston, the crew enjoyed a bright sunshiny morning and spiffed up the ship. She is glistening with new paint and varnish and looks beautiful and ready to receive visitors. As the Boston Tall Ship Festival will be a well attended and significant event, the crew was instructed on safety and security. Later in the afternoon, Captain Sikkema gave an informative lecture to a very attentive crew on the different types of rigs on ships, the changes and the role they played throughout history.  The Age of Sail is a fascinating time in history as is understanding the roots of tall ship sailing today.

Noon Position: 42°24.524’N 070°52.207W

Day’s Run: At anchor

Wind: SSE F1

Weather: Good changing to overcast and rainy

Swell height and direction: <1m SExS

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Day’s Run – 15 June 2017

By Allison Steele, purser

Today the crew was busy spiffing the ship up for our visit to Boston. With reggae music in the background, the crew painted, sanded and varnished, repaired ratlines and conducted our monthly inspection of all our safety equipment. Regular inspection not only ensures that it is in good working order but also helps to familiarize the crew with the equipment again. Preparation and prevention are the keys to safety and although emergencies are rare, it is good to know that everyone has a specific tasks and knows where things are and how they work. The crew enjoyed “family dinner” on the hatch this evening followed by a screening of the Irving Johnson film “Around Cape Horn” in the salon. Although the air is cool, the sun is warm and promises to be another glorious sunset.

Noon Position: 42°24.522’N 070°52.108W
Day’s Run: At anchor
Wind: S Force 5
Weather: Good
Swell height and direction: 2m SSE

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Day’s Run – 14 June 2017

By Allison Steele, purser

Today as we made our way closer to Boston we were joined again by some curious marine life. The crew was busy with ship’s work including painting, varnishing and tarring. We also conducted some drills in tacking and wearing the ship to make sure we are snappy for the Parade of Sail on Saturday! After dropping anchor outside of Boston Harbor, we had a stunning sunset and the decks were crowded with everyone snapping pictures including Sail Training International’s official photographer Valery Vasilevskiy who has been with us during this passage. Watch for some of his beautiful photography on our website and Facebook page.

Noon Position: 42°27.4’N 070°38.2W
Day’s Run: 40.2nm
Passage: 724.5nm
Distance Remaining: 10.5 nm
Wind: NE Force 3
Weather: Good
Swell height and direction:

photo by Valery Vasilevskiy

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Captain’s Log – Fish On!!


Fish On!!!

The best words shouted while at sea! On our sail to Bermuda or on any other passage, we like to drag a few lines in hopes of catching the elusive Mahi Mahi or any great fish we can lure aboard. Personally, my favourite rig is a 10-12′ bungee cord with 150lb test monofilament and the appropriate brightly coloured lure. With two lines out and two fish on we had no less than five Mahi Mahi (Dorado) on the stern. We got our fish in quickly and tossed the lines back out but were unable to lure the others aboard.

We thanked our catch and sent them off to the Ship’s Cook to be prepared for dinner for a very grateful crew.



Written by Trainee Heather Ritchie

Heather Ritchie


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Day’s Run – 13 June, 2017

By: Purser Allison

A beautiful day turning much warmer in the afternoon, the crew was joined by many curious marine animals. We saw no small amount of sharks, bottlenose dolphins. The crew also had full man overboard drill complete with a launching the rescue boat to retrieve our MOB practice buoy Lenny. Preparing and launching the boat quickly and safely takes practice and we seem to have it down pat with a time of two minutes from alarm to launching and two minutes to retrieval. Every second counts in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and the crew came together and successfully rescued our buoy… Lenny was relieved to be back on board.

Noon Position:  42°09.3’N 069°55.4W

Day’s Run: 118nm

Passage: 661.5nm

Course and speed: N1\2E

Wind: WNW Force 3

Weather: Good

Swell height and direction: <1m SSW

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Day’s Run – 12 June, 2017

By Purser Allison

We are approaching the Boston Harbour Shipping Lanes and have seen quite a bit of activity not just with vessels but with marine life. We were fortunate to see whales today that were quite curious about our comparatively small ship that they came to visit.

Captain Sikkema held workshops on ratline splices, ratlines and additional splicing. It’s much cooler today as we get further into North Atlantic waters and the crew had to dig for sweaters and blankets. The sun, however, is shining brightly and we no longer stand in the shadows to protect us from the heat but search out the sun for its warmth. Especially ship’s cat Fiji.

Noon position: 40°30.30N  068°36.6W

Day’s Run: 111nm

Passage: 540.5 NM

Distance Run: 159.5nm

Course and speed: NWx1\2N 4kts

Wind: WSW Force 4

Weather: fair

Swell height and direction: <1m WSW

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Captain’s Log – Bermuda Tall Ship Event

The City of Hamilton, Capital of Bermuda is nestled into the surrounding harbour, where we, the beautiful black PICTON CASTLE was at anchor. Not like a typical city that comes to mind, our view from the ship consisted of colourful buildings, none taller than three or four stories high, two clock towers and maybe a handful of churches. It was a beautiful sight waking up to the numerous tall ships in port, some three ships deep off the pier. Hamilton is, aside from America’s Cup, a rather peaceful city, the locals are tremendously friendly and easy to talk to whether it be asking for directions or discussing the local culture.

I was lucky to be able to join a few of the Picton crew in the Tall Ship Crew Parade that concluded in the park where the organisers held a ceremony to distribute awards. We won Best Crew! Although I had only been with the PICTON CASTLE for two days, it seemed fitting. We ARE the best crew, more than that we are a family. As the committee cleared the pavilion to make way for the DJ, our marching legs became dancing legs and oh how we danced! Swapping costumes, snapping photos and laughing as the sun went down. The music became louder and so the dancing continued even the less agile joined in with the impressive sit-dancing skills. We were, impressively, the last crew remaining and danced the final song with the local Town Crier.

Eventually, we all made our way back to the PICTON CASTLE. “To the black pirate ship”, we pointed to a lovely couple that motored us out into the dark starry bay.

As I tucked into my bunk at the stern of the ship, laid my head on my pillow I smiled to myself. I was home.




Written by Annie Featherstone, Trainee on board PICTON CASTLE

Annie Featherstone

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Day’s Run – 11 June, 2017

By Purser Allison

Sunday Funday but the ship’s work is never done. Today we had two workshops; the first of which was bending on headsails after which crew used their new skills to bend on the flying jib. Captain Sikkema also conducted a workshop on splicing and whipping. Each crew member learned how to make an eye splice with 2 different kind of tapers, finishing off with whippings, a skill which is used daily on the ship. During night watch, Mates conducted a chart house orientation to allow crew to understand the different pieces of navigation equipment and what they are used for.

Bound from: St. Georges/Hamilton, Bermuda

Towards: Boston, MA

Noon Position:  39°20.2N 066°39.1W

Day’s Run: 79nm

Passage Distance Run:  265nm

Distance Remaining: 428nm

Course and Speed:  NWxW  3.1nm

Wind: 3kn SWxS

Weather: Good

Swell height + Direction: <1m SW


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