Captain's Log

Archive for September, 2018

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Ship Yard in Fiji

Both prudent ship management and logical marine regulation call for ships to be drydocked from time to time and have their hulls inspected and looked after. This is only natural as most vessels are in a somewhat corrosive environment of salt water. Freshwater is different and much kinder to steel, not so much to wood, but that’s another story. And things grow in salt water: weeds, barnacles, coral, all sorts of things. If they grow on your hull, eventually the ship will be barely able to move through the water. All this plant and animal life can clog up engine cooling water intakes too. Meaning no cooling water to the engine or generators and so on. And wood or steel, even fiberglass and ferrocement can corrode or develop undesirable defects over time. So, we haul ships out of the water, inspect them closely, make such repairs or affect maintenance as required and launch them again.

If a vessel is subject to regulatory oversight by a Maritime Administration such as is this ship then it is also required to have the ship’s hull checked over by a qualified, competent third party independent surveyor/inspector. Anyone with an inspected American, Canadian, French, Danish flag (and many more) vessel goes through much the same process. And it is quite an interesting process for those keen on learning more about taking care of boats and ships, as our crew tends to be. Now it was time for Picton Castle to get drydocked and looked after, which we did in the city of Suva in Fiji. Two years ago we drydocked in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada (our home base) at the venerable Lunenburg Foundry, which had such a big role in refitting this ship into a world voyaging barque years ago. And two years before that we had drydocked here in Fiji. All went well four years ago here in rainy Fiji so I was optimistic about slipping again this time.

Last Friday just before noon and after a big big barge got launched, we heaved up the anchor and headed over to the shipyard. Suva is a large harbour with all sorts of vessels including freighters, tugs, and plenty far eastern long-liners fishing for Japan, China and Korea. We quietly made our way to the shipyard bulkhead and got tied up and set up lines to position the ship on the railway cradle. About 1500, the normal cool order of the ship became controlled chaos as we warped Picton Castle to center her over the unseen invisible cradle which we could see was heading into the water to fetch us. With all the lines just so, the cradle went under the ship at high tide, was lashed to the cradle and hauled up. By 1730 the Picton Castle was high and dry.

I was pleasantly pleased to see what good shape the bottom of the ship was in. But on we go. First, a high-pressure fresh water blasting to get rid of any weed and the last layer of bottom paint, now worn out. Captain Hugh Munro from New Zealand, who represents our regulatory body Maritime Cook Islands and the Ministry of Transport, was on hand to conduct the independent survey and inspections. A thorough inspection of the hull below the waterline is first on the list. Any defects to be noted. Check the wear on the zinc anodes, inspect the propeller and shaft. Open and inspect all through-hull fittings. Carry out a comprehensive shell thickness survey. Then get on with the work of getting the ship repainted for another two years in tropical waters. A primer coat of two-part epoxy paint anywhere there is bare steel, followed by a full coat of anti-corrosive paint on top of that and then two coats of anti-fouling paint. Also must paint the draft marks bow and stern, as well as the load line marks amidships.

What else? We fixed a chock damaged under the intense strains of the ‘mules’ of the Panama Canal transit, replaced a plate up on the bow, cleaned off the transducer (for the depth sounder) and replaced some drain bolts. By the end of the day Sunday, a mere two days after coming up, all was almost done. At this point senior staff (all hands are welcome) take a forensic round tour together (sort of like “cross-checking” on airline flights) of the bottom of the ship walking around her on the lift, check every inch, check everything that got done to make sure she is all buttoned up before she goes back into the sea. She looked great. All in all the Suva shipyard had done an outstanding job and in only two days. Very impressive.

The next morning, Monday, we turned to at 0500 and were headed down the ways by 0600. And all anchored by 0700 with a shiny clean hull all checked out and passing muster with flying colours. Now to restore the ship post shipyard (shipyards can be dirty) and to provision, fuel up, get what deck and engine room supplies the ship requires and look to getting back to sea again.

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Day’s Run – 17 September, 2018

Monday morning and we’re back at it full swing. The 4-8 watch set all sails as the sun glowing orange and yellow rose on the eastern horizon. After that, we sent them all to deck. Yes, that is correct. We unbent our sails, depowering our natural form of transportation and fired up the engine. It may seem strange, a tall ship removing all sails, yet there are a few reasons we did this. The first is that the ship will be dry docked for roughly 4 – 5 days and the forecast is rain, by taking down all sails we will not have to worry or care for them when they get wet, which leads to mold and decay. Another reason for taking them down is that this is a sail training ship and by unbending, which then leads to rebending sails, the crew learn a lot more about the rig, how objects work in the rig and they gain a larger appreciation for the vessel in which they’ve chosen to live for months or a year at a time. The more a crew member learns about the ship and the more tasks they get their hands dirty with, the closer they come to understanding this vast world of square rig sailing.

After successfully sending down 18 of 20 sails in 6 hours, a power shower was erected on the main deck for all those who wished to cool off to enjoy. Once the deck was tidied up and tools were neatly put away, a delicious dinner of lamb, green peas, salad and potatoes was served on the main hatch. It’s days like these that bring the entire crew together, working as a team on one visible and tangible project – well done crew.

From: Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Towards: Suva, Fiji
Date: September 17, 2018
Noon Position: 18°27.7′ S x 179°26.3′ W
Course + Speed: W by N (motoring)
Wind direction + Force: NE + 2
Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2m + SE
Weather: Hot, Sunny
Sails Set: All sails were sent down, expect the foretopmast stays’l, the spanker and the gaff tops’l


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Day’s Run – 16 September, 2018

It was a quiet Sunday at Sea for those not cooking away in the warm galley, it was a relaxing, rainy Sunday. Everyone needs that once in a while. Crew members were huddled together over a laptop in the shelter of the salon enjoying entertaining television shows. Yes, we sailors do enjoy a great series or movie from time to time. Especially if it pertains to tall ship sailing or life at sea.

Plans and preparations to arrive in Fiji by Tuesday are beginning to unfold. The ship will be going into dry dock, which entails hauling our 180′ barque out of the salt water and resting it onto a cradle. A rather interesting and unique experience to witness and be part of, according to those who’ve seen it for themselves.

At 1600 Captain held a discussion on Fiji and what the crew has to look forward to, both with the ship and exploring the port. Bollywood films, exploring the museum, shopping at the market, rugby games and of course ice cream! As for the ship’s work while we’re in port, our sailmaker John of Massachusetts, USA will lead a team in laying out sails. We will even pull out our industrial sewing machine to seam together the cloths of canvas. Everyone is looking forward to some good old fashioned R n’ R in Fiji while others are keen to witness the ship in yard, the process that entails and the work that will take place.

From: Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Towards: Suva, Fiji
Date: September 16, 2018
Noon Position: 18°37.3′ S x 177°39.6′ W
Course + Speed: WSW + 4.6 knots
Wind direction + Force:  E’ly + 3 – 4
Swell Height + Direction: 3m + SE by E
Weather: Rain off and on
Day’s Run: 108.2nm
Passage Log: 111.8nm
Distance to Port: 136.7nm
Voyage: 9375.3nm
Sails Set: All square sails, Inner jib, main topmast stays’l


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Day’s Run – 15 September, 2018

And we’re off, sailing for Fiji. It’s always bittersweet leaving port. As the Captain says, “if we hadn’t left one place we would have never arrived at another.” Oh, the glories of traveling. Some places are harder to leave than others, thus far and I believe Tonga will remain one of the hardest ports to leave on many levels. The crew had a spectacular time exploring the island of Vava’u, in the Kingdom of Tonga. It provided us with both adventure and relaxation. The town of Neiafu was welcoming and friendly, our days off were happily spent exploring caves, swimming with whales, sailing, hiking and of course indulging in ice cream and fish ‘n chips. The town is a big sailing hub, attracting sailors from all corners of the world. Our crew made fast friends with both locals and visitors, some even having connections between friends or family back home.

One particular crew member, Vaufia, had a surreal time, as it was her first trip back home since sailing away in the Picton Castle 5 years ago. She has now completed her first circumnavigation. Her family was there on the dock to welcome her home. On our last night in Tonga, we were able to experience a little bit of her world. She and her family invited us in with open arms and threw a tremendous feast, along with dancing and music, where we celebrated the coming together of two families: Vai’s family and her Picton Castle family. It was truly magical to be all under one roof. The following day we made our last provisions at the fantastic Neiafu vegetable market, spent the last of our Tongan pangas on crafts and souvenirs and said our heartbreaking goodbyes. We hoisted the heavy port anchor, hauled on lines, loosed our canvas and set course for Fiji. Once out of the harbor, but still sailing between the islands and as we coiled down lines and were settling back into sea life, a huge humpback whale breached just off the stern on our port side. It was the perfect farewell from Tonga.

Ship’s work: Today the crew are focusing on gaining back their sea legs and shaking off their shore brains. Picton Castle sails along steadily between 4 – 5 knots, as on duty watches work to keep the ship looking sharp. Our starboard breezeway door was primed, the teak door to the carpenter’s shop was scraped, seizings on the shrouds were painted white. The sailmaker and his team of helpers finished sewing the rope cover on the new royal and seaming on the new t’gallant continued. Overall an excellent day back out on the vast South Pacific Ocean.

From: Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Towards: Suva, Fiji
Date: September 15, 2018
Noon Position: 18°38.7′ S x 175°45.9′ W
Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 3.8 knots
Wind direction + Force: ExS + 4 Swell Height +
Direction: 2m + ESE
Weather: Periods of overcast, light rain and sun
Day’s Run: 98.1nm
Passage Log: 93nm
Distance to Port: 238.1nm
Voyage: 9263.5nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, outer jib, main topmast stays’l, main t’gallant stays’l


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Day’s Run – 7 September, 2018

Those still asleep arose to the smell of pancakes cooking on the stove. You know it’s calm when ship’s cook Donald is making pancakes. All square sails remained set throughout the night. Easy, steady winds and seas helped push us towards our goal of reaching the Kingdom of Tonga by this weekend. Tonga is held dear to our hearts as one of Picton Castle‘s long-time crew members, Vaiufia, hails from the island of Vava’u. This afternoon post power shower, the Captain will host a discussion on the island and all that it has to offer. We are all very excited to get to know and explore Vai’s homeland.

Ship’s work: Lots of painting and sanding on the agenda for today. The starboard breezeway watertight door is being overhauled, scraping and sanding off the old paint. The aloha deck rudder post received a fresh top coat of bright red paint, sprucing up our outdoor dining area. Today’s lunch was chicken sandwiches on freshly made bread, yum! Sunny morning, yet overcast skies and light rain after lunch has caused our sailmaker to pack up and relocate to the salon. Progress on our dory’s new, big and bright jib has been made, all of the strips of double-sided cloth have been cut, the next step is sewing them together. Productive Friday morning. If only the wind would hold, otherwise we’ll motor on to get our girl home.

From: Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands
Towards: Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Date: September 7th, 2018
Noon Position: 18°22.1′ S x 171°35.5’ W
Course + Speed: W + 4.3 knots
Wind direction + Force: NNW + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2m + ENE/ESE
Weather: Overcast, drizzle
Day’s Run: 100nm
Passage Log: 105nm
Distance to Port: 137nm
Voyage: 9003.8nm
Sails Set: All square sails except royals, outer jib, inner jib, fore topmast stays’l, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l, spanker


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Day’s Run – 5 September, 2018

As we sail along comfortably with the easterly South Pacific tradewinds on our quarter, the ship’s work projects get chipped away at. The rudder post on the aloha deck (which connects the rudder under the aloha deck to the worm screw steering gear and helm on the quarterdeck) got well chipped and received plenty of coats of paint. The breezeway handrails, too, received their final coat of paint.

This morning’s sunshine was interrupted by a light shower during lunch, which was served down in the salon. Spaghetti, curried parrot fish and breadfruit salad to fill and satisfy our bellies! The sun is beaming down on deck again and captain has given the order to 3rd mate Corey to loose and set royals.

Preparations for the newest member of our small boat fleet Ann continues; carpenter Carlos, of Mississauga, begins to measure and take the boat’s lines, lays out plans and sorts out materials with the guidance of our Captain. Excitedly our small boat Sea Never Dry is having a new jib made by Connor, of California, under the helpful eye of sailmaker of many years John. This afternoon second mate Dirk of Tasmania via Germany is hosting a lesson on weather. A sailor’s best friend and worst enemy is the weather. Understanding its patterns, reading the predictions and the forecast all assists the crew in becoming better seamen.

New Palmerston Boat – ANN

From: Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands
Towards: Vava’u, Tonga
Date: September 5, 2018
Noon Position: 18°18.1’S x 167°40.6′ W
Course + Speed: SSW + 6.1 knots
Wind direction + Force: E + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2.5m + ENE/SE
Weather: bright, sunny
Day’s Run: 145nm
Passage Log: 147nm
Distance to Port: 356nm
Voyage: 8773.7nm
Sails Set: All square sails (expect the mains’l), main topmast stays’l, inner jib


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Palmerston Atoll – staying ashore

The Picton Castle sailed the 270 nautical miles from Rarotonga to Palmerston Atoll, both in the Cook Islands, in record time. A roller coaster passage with some hurting stomachs. But all went calm as we slid into the placid lee of the reefs on the west side of the island and the sun came out strong with a bright blue sky to frame it. The islanders in their workboats expertly helped me spot the best anchor place for letting go and soon they were alongside the ship with halloos and hugs all around, Edward, Bob, Bill, Arthur, and a few others all came out to greet us. And brought cool fresh drinking coconuts straight out of the chilly bin. Ambrosia! Nothing better in the world for a drink than a cool drinking nut, juice dribbling down your chin.

No time to dilly-dally, we must discharge our Palmerston cargo. The weather might change and we might have to heave up and skedaddle. The cargo is precious to the islanders with supply ships so infrequent. Not much to unload this time as they did just have a supply boat but still enough to fill a couple 20-foot aluminum workboats. A drum of petrol, many personal packets and all sorts of odds and ends. Rigged the yard and stay tackles to off-load the gear into the boats alongside. Then off through the pass a couple hundred yards away into the dreamy turquoise lagoon they sped, to return for the crew. Our gang then piled over the rail into the boats with their backpacks, raced in through the pass in the reef and put their feet ashore in the creamy bright white sand of Palmerston Atoll. Before being picked by families for the duration of our stay – and trading in and out with the other watches – we were brought to a covered seating area and treated to a sweet welcome of song and prayer. Then off to our new homes hiding under the palm trees and to legendary hospitality.

It’s all pretty finest kind ‘old school’ island living on Palmerston – the way it should be. You might sleep in a bedroom porch-like affair or you might sleep in a cool tin-roof covered spot on the beach. Or maybe in a fishnet hammock. Anyway, you will sleep just fine, including, if you will, a late night stroll down to the lagoon late of a night to take in the sky bursting with stars with the booming of the surf on the reef a pounding metronome in the background. Early in the next morning, the sun does what it always does – it lightens the eastern sky. The roosters do their thing and the island begins to stir. Maybe we start the day with a fresh coconut. Breakfast is on the table under the awning in the trees outside the house. No slackers in the trencher department, the table is covered with fried eggs, toast, pawpaw, beans, bananas, Nescafe, tea and cool drink and even Cheerios (a big hit with our #1 son) and home-made yogurt.

What to do now? Take your pick. There are few rules – just be a decent sort. A swim in the lagoon with the black-tip sharks maybe. Perhaps fishing is the order of the day. Fishing is a major occupation for all at Palmerston. Parrotfish being the prime species, but others too. Wahoo, tuna, barracuda, yellowfin, snapper as well. One gang went off to Toms Island, a motu to the east of Home Island to hunt the wily coconut crab. These guys are tough, they open coconuts. There is a big feast planned so much fishing must be done. From the ship come big bowls of pasta and potato salad. And Donald is drafted to cook up his famous DFC (enough for 80 people over a coconut husk fire), Donald Fried Chicken, now legendary in the Cook Islands. We all meet at the village center near some big cement water tanks. An all-hands feast with all the islanders. Lots of swimming in the beautiful lagoon. Bonfires with guitars and ukuleles at night on the beach. And off to bed after a walk barefoot through the soft sand of Palmerston, the booming surf never ending

More fishing the next day. Our freezers will be full with parrot fish when sail.

Gathering Coconuts


Parrot Fish – Annie




Day’s Catch


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Day’s Run – 4 September, 2018

Bound from Palmerston Atoll towards Tonga

It’s September already! Those who joined the ship in New Orleans can’t believe how fast their time onboard has gone and those who have been on since the winter in Lunenburg, well, they consider the ship home. For the crew that hail from north of the equator, September marks a new beginning, a time when a fresh school year starts. As we sail into Leg 2 of this voyage the crew members are growing more and more as seamen, and with new hands onboard the old crew can help them through learning the ropes. We have lots of teachers now.

Yesterday we sailed off the hook from Palmerston Atoll meaning we lifted the anchor, loosed and set sails and sailed due west for Tonga without turning on the engine. Palmerston is made up of five very small islands. Home Island, as the locals refer to it, is the only populated piece of land. The island is low, no more than ten feet high, 900m wide, it takes a total of 15 minutes to walk the circumference.. unless you stop and chat with the families that inhabit the sandy island, as they’ll invite you in for copious amounts of food, tea and coffee and of course coconuts. At that rate, it takes all day to walk the island, especially with an overstuffed belly.

When we sailed into Palmerston on August 30th, two boats came out to greet us, we loaded their cargo into the boats that we transported from Rarotonga and half of the crew was whisked off to the island. When they reached the beautiful white sandy shore, the islander families each plucked a group of sailors and lead them to their homes. Upon arrival, our crew was offered a mountain of food; breadfruit, parrot fish, fried chicken, rice, stir-fry, juice, tea, coffee and of course ice cream. Arriving at Palmerston was like arriving home after a long year away at university. We were cared for as if we were one of their own. Our crew were eager to understand the islanders’ way of life and to help out as they could. Our engineer, Deyan, worked to fix a few outboards, ATVs and solar panels for the locals. Our doctor, Tomas of Argentina, assisted the island’s nurse Shelia (from Papua New Guinea) with patients, and the Captain donated some of our medical supplies. Other crew members were able to go crab hunting and fishing, as well as help with gathering coconuts – we’re all addicted to coconuts and have a healthy amount to feast on onboard.

Leaving Palmerston tugged at our heartstrings. After spending five intimate days living with the islanders, they gave us an unforgettable farewell with traditional South Pacific songs, wished us a safe journey and offered us to return. We do not leave empty-handed. On a previous voyage the islanders gave the Captain two wrecked small old wooden boats, Karl and Sydney, which he and the crew restored to perfect working order and they now happily reside in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. This time around, a small boat by the name Ann was looking worse for wear (falling apart) and again the islanders entrusted this last small boat, first launched February 26th, 1957, to our captain and crew. The project of restoring the old girl will be a fantastic education on boat building. Boat building at sea will be the added challenge. The Captain says ‘if you want to learn boat building one way is to rebuild a boat that was well built to begin with’. He says that this boat will be an interesting job for us.

Ship’s work: First day back at sea, the crew shakes off their shore brain and regains their sea legs. The carpenters discussed plans with the Captain on how to restore Ann and photo document her fine craftsmanship which they hope to replicate. The rudder shaft on the aloha deck received its 7th coat of primer, the breezeway handrails were scuffed and primed as well as the breezeway overhead was spot painted to keep its tropical blue paint looking fresh. This morning our sailmaker, John of Massachusetts, who is celebrating his birthday today, was seaming away on the new t’gallant sail, along with the help of Sue of England and Chief Mate Erin of Bermuda. All in all it’s been a pleasant day back at sea and we’re looking forward to a few days away from land.

From: Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands
Towards: Vava’u, Tonga
Date: September 4th, 2018
Noon Position: 18°10.4 S’ x 165°07.8′ W Course + Speed: W by S Wind direction + Force: ESE + 5 Swell Height + Direction: 3m + E by S
Weather: Sunny, slight overcast
Day’s Run: 110 nm
Passage Log: 112.5 nm
Distance to Port: 505 nm
Voyage: 8626.8 nm
Sails Set: main upper and lower tops’l, main t’gallant, foresail, fore upper and lower tops’l, fore t’gallant, outer jib, main topmast stays’l


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Palmerston Atoll – Home Island

Barque Picton Castle at Palmerston Atoll 18-03.7S / 163-11.5W – Home Island

We had a boisterous but swift passage the 270 miles from Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands northwest to Palmerston Atoll, also in the Cook Islands. Only 43 hours at sea and it could have been shorter but we reduced sail and slowed down to avoid arriving when it was still dark of night. Strong winds drew us along at 8 knots at times but strong winds also mean heavy seas. A bit rough on our new joiners, maybe even a bit of a shock. The old hands have had thousands of miles to get used to large ocean swells. And it was rough enough for us too. But it was a great passage anyway. We hove into sight of the low atoll only a few miles away in the mist, early in the AM as we sailed along at 6.5 knots under lower topsails and a couple of fore n’ aft sails to steady the ship some. Of course, reducing sail to slow down also means that we bounce around more. Nothing to be done about it. We must set the anchor in good high light.

Palmerston Atoll was first discovered and named by Captain James Cook in 1774. The only Cook Island that the famous explorer ever saw or visited. Later the Frigate PANDORA in hot pursuit of Fletcher and the boys on the BOUNTY stopped by here some years later and actually found a spanker gaff belonging to the fated ship. I  guess it was labeled somehow. Must have been carved into. Palmerston was uninhabited then and remained so until William Marsters of England, a sailing ship mariner and ship’s carpenter, decided to set up housekeeping there in 1863. I do not have any idea why this atoll would remain uninhabited while so many others boasted large populations but so it is. A much longer story full of the romance of the South Seas, he settled there with three wives who came from Tongareva. Akakingaro, Tepou and Matavia and William settled here planted palms, harvested copra and produced 21 children in the later 19th century. The fringe reef has about six readily inhabitable motus but these are enjoyed on coconut crab hunting expeditions and camping. Everyone lives on “Home Island” with about 60 folks normally in full-time residence, only 40 just now with some folks off island. And there are 15 kids in the lovely school here. School kind of comes to a halt when the Picton Castle shows up. Instant summer holidays, days at the beach for all. The entire atoll is just under 7 miles long at its broadest north and south and Home Island is less than 1,000 yards wide and more or less roundish. But set in the SW corner of the atoll for best weather protection. There are a few passes in the reef on the lee side where small boats can get in and out in lots of current. These we got to experience many times. Good local knowledge and expert boat handling required.

It is quite amazing to feel the lumpy seas just vanish as we sailed into the lee and calm of the fringe reefs of Palmerston. From 12 to 15 foot seas to maybe one-foot seas and no swell at all in the matter of a quarter mile. As we slid into the lee and settled down we talked to the islanders on the radio. As they have done so well in the past they come out in their boats to help spot and set the anchor where it will hold the best. This does mean, however, steering the ship right up close to the reef to drop the hook. It is very very tempting for a deepwater mariner to want anchor further off, but it won’t work. You have to anchor on the ledge and let the winds hold you off the reef. And the ship needs to remain well-manned to up anchor and get away from the island quickly if conditions call for it. Scary stuff getting so close to the coral reef, if I did not know we could do this safely, and more, that it was the only way to anchor, I would not dream of it. So with the anchor down in 30 feet holding hard, the stern in 80 feet and two ship lengths astern maybe 1,000 feet deep and on to 3,000, we got sorted for four days of amazing windswept atoll life at Palmerston Atoll deep in the South Pacific.



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Pacific Tradewinds

Our barque is rolling down the sea-miles in fresh southeast tradewinds deep in the South Pacific. We are bound for Palmerston Atoll in the Cook Islands. The ship is some 150 nautical miles northwest of Rarotonga and about 700 nautical miles a bit south of due west from Tahiti. The Picton Castle is sailing along strong. Yards are braced just off square on the starboard tack. We are under t’gallants with the winds astern at almost 25 knots, sometimes more. No mainsail is set in order to allow the strong winds to flow to the foremast and help with the steering, pulling the ship along instead of pushing her.

Today calls for the best helmsmanship. Large whitecapped blue seas roll up astern and lift the ship’s counter just as she was designed to do these many years ago for fishing in the North Sea, English Channel and the dreaded winter North Atlantic. Many a winter gale and worse has this ship sailed through without effect when fishing out of Wales and in the Second World War. Now it’s a delight to take these bright blue (and warm) seas under our stern as we cross this South Pacific Ocean under sail. Currently, Kirsten has the big teak wheel and doing a fine job of keeping the ship on course.

The low bright white clouds pass overheard swiftly, chasing us, then passing us, saying ‘c’mon you old windjammer, it’s about time you were with us’. Seas and foam gurgle in through the scuppers as the ship gently rolls and dips into a swell. The cats stay aft, no wet paws for them. From time to time the breeze picks up some and the rigging moans like a deep reed instrument fading to naught soon after as the winds lay down again. The rush of the seas alongside, like a white noise, calming and exciting at the same time. Our six-year-old ship’s boy revels in playing in these sunny warm south seas scuppers of his world, soaked as soaked can get, as he is closely watched by shipmates.

Grab lines are rigged on the main deck in the rolling, sailmaking continues ahead on the quarterdeck as a new topgallant sail shapes up. The ambrosia of tarred hemp is about as well as ratline renewal on the mizzen shrouds is underway by our French rigger Anne-Laure. The look-out forward has nothing to report besides flying fish launching themselves into the winds from the sea to fly out of our way. And fly they do. Fish that fly. Whales were about yesterday, their spouts frothy and clear against the blue of the sea. We should make landfall at dawn tomorrow. And anchor in the lee of this atoll off a calm boat pass through the reef leading into a lagoon. The steady tradewinds will hold us off the reef then too.

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