Captain's Log

Archive for November, 2018

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Bali – Day 3

Serangan Bay, day three in Bali, Picton Castle halfway around the world.

Sitting at our Warung

The day here at anchor in Serangan comes in with a tropical rain shower – the monsoon change is upon us – followed by clearing and then a fine view of the Mount Agung volcano well to our north, for a while anyway before the haze fills back in. Early morning ferry boats from town headed out to the nearby islands of Nusa Penida and Lombok stream out of the bay and send us modest wakes as a form of a morning wake up greeting. Earlier we heard the faithful called to prayer over far away loudspeakers on this calm morning.

Almost all the signing off crew have headed ashore for some Bali time and their next adventure. Some have gone straight back home to Sweden and Canada. Really? Seems like hanging around in Bali in late November would be a fun idea. Since that is where we are. Plenty of time before Christmas. We wish them all good luck and joy. And we have the new gang aboard now too, getting settled and going through the comprehensive orientation process we require of those just joining. Lots to go over. The new folks are from Nova Scotia, South Africa, Alberta, and Belgium.

There is a big high regional trash dump we can see, like a low flat mountain over the masts of the fish boats and ferries miles far off in the distance. Hardly noticeable, except when the wind is directly in that quarter. Then we notice it just fine. Smells of sweet rotting fruit more than anything else. This morning we moved the Picton Castle a couple hundred yards to the south and re-anchored. In spite of anchoring at the coordinates we were given, it seems that we were in some sort of private anchor spot. Hard to tell. Looked like heaps of room around us but so it goes. It was good to test the recently overhauled anchor windlass under load anyway. No harm. No problem. Better where we are anchored now anyway.

We have four Balinese fellows out on the ship as day workers to knockarust on the quarterdeck taff rails. My goodness they are doing a great and thorough job. Very impressive. They bring their own lunch of difficult to define Balinese foods. Except for the rice. The rice looks just like rice. The rest? Smells good, but not sure what it all is. They are not at all interested in our pizza and macaroni salads. Nope, not a little bit. Yards squared, sails loosed to dry after the rain. White topsides getting white again after a month at sea. Garbage ashore, all 17 bags. And some running around today looking for bits and pieces for this and that. Water filters, chain drives, and odds and ends. And the other two-thirds of our gang off seeing Bali.

The free watches are off at Ubud, Denpasar, Kuta and who knows where else, on tours, taking in temples, festivals, night markets, great food, nice homestays overlooking a rice paddy, maybe shopping for carvings and fabrics, maybe a little nightlife. We will find out when they get back.

Dawson, ship’s boy and my oldest unmarried son, went off with friends to see the amazing temple at Uluwatu today. An elegant and large temple perched high on a cliff over the sea, it is an amazing place to visit. It is also home to a large band of well organised larcenous monkeys. A small group of these rascals will distract you, another one will come bounding up out of nowhere and grab your sunglasses off your head and run away a short distance. To hold them hostage until you offer a suitable ransom, such as a banana, which upon receipt of said banana our simian artful dodger will fling the sunglasses back at you and they will all scamper off swiftly. Cheeky little brutes. Apart from the antics of these furry little devils visiting the temple at Uluwatu is to allow a perceptible wave of serenity to wash over you.

For Dawson yesterday was a visit to the turtle sanctuary nearby where he fed lettuce to turtles he told me, he told me that they were hungry, followed by a visit to a brazenly touristy waterpark where he had as much fun as a little boy can have. Anything to do with water keeps Dawson going. Soon, we must go to the zoo where we must see a Komodo Dragon. I think he will like the elephants and tigers too, but right now its all about Komodo Dragons.

We are also getting ready for a wedding onboard tomorrow afternoon. Much thought going into décor, food, cake, libations and whatever we can think of. Better stop the rust-busting in time to clean up I guess. I am to officiate at this wedding of a sister of one of our crew (and her fiancé, of course). All the weddings I have performed so far are still sticking so I must be doing something right, no?

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Bali – Day 1

Yesterday the Picton Castle steamed into Serangan just to the north of Benoa, the large commercial port on the southern tip of Bali, Indonesia. We had a very good passage the 3,000 miles from Vanuatu. An excellent sailing passage of 1,500 miles from Santo to Cape York, the northernmost tip of Australia, followed by a swift transit of the famous Torres Strait, fair tides every inch of the way, lucky us. I was worried about the prospect of lack of wind on the Indian Ocean side of Cape York but we had many good days of sailing before the wind petered out to nothing and we had to fire up the main engine. It also was not as hot as I expected although it certainly was hot enough, plenty hot, but it could have been worse, a lot worse. But mostly we had smooth seas, gentle breezes and good time under power. We made ample use of all our awnings to keep the beastly sun off us, and it is hard in this part of the world. Something to do with an ozone hole above I have been told. But in due course after passing the Gulf of Carpenteria, passing through the Arafura Sea, Timor Sea and into the Indian Ocean we sailed up to Bali in the haze of volcanos and smoke from fires and made our way into Serangan.

The harbour is well protected, the anchorage seems like good holding. There are all kinds of exotic Balinese fishing craft and ferry boats working from here. Red tile roofs dominate the shoreline. Clearing in was swift and cheerful. The gang keen to get ashore after almost a month at sea. Some family have come to visit their crew members.

My first day is predictably jammed up with getting our Bali visit started. Crew signing off, and on, returning crew, meeting with agents, looking after fuel, food, ship buying and such, Made Alon setting up tours, we are even having a wedding aboard too! Serangan is a bustling seaside village.  The landing is crowded with ferry boat passengers at the ends of the day. Vendors and hawkers all trying to make eye contact to assure us that their cold drink or sweet pineapple or alligator fruit is the best. Plenty of places to get a cold Tebotel or Bintang or a nice nasi goreng meal, low houses many with a charming old Dutch colonial feel to them. And plenty of stone carving about of Barong and other spirits. I like it here a lot and I think will be good for our Picton Castle gang. Not posh and not too touristy, even a bit scruffy, but plenty warung and things to do as well as a good jumping off spot to explore Bali over the next bunch of days. There is a little hotel with a pool nearby, maybe just fine for ship’s boy Dawson who is mad about pools and swimming. The harbour probably not clean enough for pleasant swimming.

View from the hotel

We are getting four local workers to knockarust the rail and waterways on the quarterdeck. Get them restored and ready for paint. Nothing wrong with us chipping paint ourselves but we have much else to do with the crew: rigging, sailmaking, carpentry, etc and still we will have plenty knockarust left over. A steel ship never lacks for a spot of rust busting. The Amazing Donald went ashore as soon as he could yesterday, through the bustling crowds to a market and loaded up on fresh food for a few days. Colourful boats everywhere, brightly painted outriggers, big pinisi ketches, ferry boats back and forth with their own rush hour patterns.

The 2nd Mate Dirk and I went ashore out for a walk on this evening of our first day in Bali. To see what we could see and see about an evening dinner somewhere. After landing at the very busy town dock and a ten-minute walk along the waterfront we came upon a small warung (Bali roadside diner, great food, cheap, where the locals eat) on pilings over the bay. There with a good deal of gesturing and pointing to bowls of this and that in glass display case we were served a fine tasty repast while watching the bright painted outrigger canoe fishing boats bob at anchor nearby, Picton Castle anchored in the far background. Two little girls were playing in the water alongside the sloping stone sea wall looking like it might date back to colonial times. A young woman in lace blouse and sarong with a belt around her waist made from a piece of yellow cloth came along and we watched he set out her offerings on the seawall. It is far more than just setting down the bamboo tray. There is ceremony carried out with dignity in the fading evening light. Later we went and looked at the small, maybe 5” square, palm leaf offering tray to see what was in it. Bits of rice and fruit, an incense stick with smoke spiraling up and even small chocolate candies in their wrappers, a couple cigarettes too. Quite a bit of treasure. Before setting down the offering she had simply swept aside the older dried up offering tray down into the lapping water joining what looked like a few other older such trays from earlier days no doubt. Across the street was a beautiful small residential hotel. $250 a month to stay there. Can’t afford to stay home.

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Day’s Run – 19 November, 2018

Indian Ocean Bound for Bali, south of Sumbawa, west of Sumba

After another evening of half the crew sleeping soundly on the hatch, Monday morning started with a hot sunrise on our backs as the crew sipped their morning coffee on the aloha deck. After breakfast our avid fisherman Colin spent his morning untangling his rather large fishing line, on-lookers admired his patience and perseverance. Rigger Abbey, with the assistance of James, changed out the fore lower topsail sheets. This required each of them splicing the ends of the new line onto the sheets cleats, applying two whippings and reeving them through the blocks that are attached to chains. Annie and Dawson spent the morning enjoying a rousing game of ‘Go Fish’, until he decided it was time to assist carpenter Carlos with puttying the open seams on the quarterdeck he had just caulked. Sailmaker John is one seam away from completing all of the seaming on the spanker, this is the last step before its second layout, which will hopefully take place in Bali. The scullery team, Mandy, David and Rhyanne, had their hands full deep cleaning veggie lockers and freezers, but with the help of the Beach Boys they’ve been thoroughly enjoying their day. We’re full steam ahead as we near the home stretch for Bali, arriving in Indonesia will mark the end of the second leg and pretty much halfway around this world.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been at sea for 7 months!

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Monday, November 19, 2018

Noon Position: 09°47.6′ S – 117°21.3′ E

Course + Speed: NW by W + 7.1 kts

Wind direction + Force: Westerly + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2m + Westerly

Weather: Hot

Day’s Run: 169.6 nm

Passage Log: 3175.5 nm

Distance to Port: 140 nm

Voyage: 13545.1 nm

Sails Set: None, motoring


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Day’s Run – 18 November, 2018

Sunday at Sea, there is a calm feeling in the atmosphere. Despite the heat, crew members are enjoying their relaxing day after this morning’s up and stow; always a nice start to the day: to climb freshly out of bed and keep climbing up through the rigging, laying out onto the yard and busting up a sail. It resembles a morning workout, getting the heart pumping and blood moving. Once all square sails were securely stowed to their yards, crew enjoyed a delicious breakfast put out by today’s galley cooking team, Stephanie, Jack and James. Later in the day, the Danish Clipper opened for business, cleaning up our male shipmates’ mops and making them presentable for port. A self-respecting sailor works hard on the ship, has dirt under their fingernails, tar up and down their forearms and a shirt so stained it’s unrecognizable. But once in port cleans up, dresses appropriately and presents themselves to the charms of shore with class.

As it’s already mid-November and Bali will be our last port of call before the holiday, the Christmas Council met today to discuss the events. Christmas music, baking, secret Santa, chocolate egg hunt, and a Christmas brunch are all on the agenda for the celebration at sea! The ship has the Hippy Happy Divy Divy Christmas tree and ornaments collected over the years.

As this afternoon carries on, shipmates continue the final touches on their ditty bags, work on their rope mats, playing games in the salon and catching up on their reading. And six-year-old Dawson went on a ship-wide treasure hunt to find the long lost buried candy. Happy Sunday at Sea from the Indian Ocean!

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Sunday, November 18, 2018

Noon Position: 10°56.0′ S – 120°00.0′ E

Course + Speed: NW by N + 8.1 kts

Wind direction + Force: W’ly + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + SW’ly

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 187.9 nm

Passage Log: 3005.2 nm

Distance to Port: 315 nm

Voyage: 13379.6 nm

Sails Set: None, motoring


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Day’s Run – 17 November, 2018

In the Timor Sea: to our north is the Island of Timor, to our southeast is Australia about 250 miles away, and as we enter the Indian Ocean Bali is only 460 miles away now.

In some nice hot tropical hot weather but we hear it’s snowing and sleeting and hailing back in Lunenburg. Last evening our 10x 12′ cargo hatch hosted a  few sleeping bodies. All sleeping peacefully under the large collection of bright stars and the cool evening air blowing over them as they caught some shut-eye. Even the aloha deck bench was packed with three crew members sleeping heading to feet, as if they were having a sleepover at a friend’s house and passed out on the couch. It’s nice to sleep on deck in nice weather.

This morning, after ship’s cook Donald’s famous Grenadian meat donut breakfast, the Southern Belle rigging team of Abbey, Rhyanne and Annie, along with Dustin, sent down the starboard main upper topsail foot rope. Once it was on deck the women inspected its condition and went to work replacing old, worn out seizings and chafe gear.

The 8-12 watch is lead this week by Brittni, as she got a chance to experience what it’s like working as a lead seaman. As the saying goes “if you want to get the job done right, get a Picton Castle girl”. The 8-12 watch cleaned the semi dory and gave her a soapy scrub. The semi dory is our spare skiff, we will be launching both the skiff and dory once we arrive to be used for provisioning as well as coxswain practice.

Our sailmaking team continued work on the outer jib. The carpenters, sheltered from the sun’s violent rays, worked on the quarterdeck removing old caulking, with the added help from Dawson! The mid-day power shower is a delight, everyone is grateful to cool off after a busy morning.

This afternoon crew are keeping themselves busy by working on their personal projects; Mandy is finishing her home-made knife, Rhyanne is sanding down her ditty bag bottom and Anders has taken apart his accordion in hopes to repair it after an unfortunate incident where it was caught in the rain. The crew will take it easy now until Monday morning when we begin preparing to anchor in Bali!

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2018

Noon Position: 11°35.2′ S – 123°08′ E

Course + Speed: W 3/4 N + 8kts

Wind direction + Force: ESE + 1

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SW’ly

Weather: Hot

Day’s Run: 196.3 nm

Passage Log: 2811.9 nm

Distance to Port: 505 nm

Voyage: 13181.3 nm

Sails Set:  None, motoring

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Day’s Run – 16 November, 2018

This morning the crew awoke to a gorgeous bright orange sunrise on the port quarter, filling the sky above it with every colour in the rainbow. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration was a grand feast, as tradition would have it we overfilled our stomachs with turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries and to top it off chocolate ice cream and pumpkin pie! Delicious. Everyone was full to the brim when the call came “fish on!”

A few people sauntered aft to witness what was being reeled in, once it was known that a shark was on the line everyone came to have a look. When the shark was about 4 meters from the ship he let go, revealing the head of a tuna on our hook! The shark had eaten the entire body! Meanwhile, a second line was being hauled in, revealing it had a baby shark on the end of its bait! We hauled the little guy up, safely removed the hook and tossed him back into the sea.

This morning as groggy crew members sipped their morning coffee, slowly beginning to wake up, Colin of Nova Scotia was busy reeling in and sending out line, two bites on the rod but nothing hauled in yet this morning. After breakfast, our avid fisherman had an assistant, six-year-old Dawson, also of Nova Scotia, who was advising Colin which lure to use. The two made a great team choosing which bait to fasten on the line and casting them over the side.

As Dawson was busy awaiting a fish bite, the riggers, Abbey of North Carolina and Rhyanne of South Carolina, unbent the outer jib for it to be sent in and repaired. Once the jib was out of their hands and into the sailmakers’, the all-star women rigging team brought down the fish tackle, a large hook that is used to haul up the port side fisherman anchor, in order to redo the serving below the three-part block. Annie, of Ontario, added a serving to the fore upper topsail downhaul wire and replaced the port upper topsail inner buntline block.

With the outer jib spread out on the hatch under the protection of the awning, the sailmakers, John of Massachusetts, Clara of Denmark, and chief mate Erin of Bermuda, inspected the canvas sail and began the process of applying a few patches. It is an old sail but there is life in it yet.

The carpenters, Carlos of Ontario and Mandy of Colorado, have continued to take over the quarterdeck, reefing out old caulking around the deck planks, bumping down the old but good oakum and paying the seams with putty. Niko of Colorado, was given the splendid job of grinding the capstan that was taken apart at the beginning of this week, giving it a thorough rust bust/paint removal. The 8-12 watch osphoed the propane tanks, cleaning them and prepping them for the 12-4 watch to paint them. And Stephanie, of Victoria, gave the coffee station back aft on the Aloha deck its first coat of forest green paint.

Our hot, busy morning was saved by a noon power shower, cooling everyone off and giving us a break from the heat. As we motor sail towards Bali, the ocean water looks as calm as glass, crew members have spotted many jellyfish and sea snakes swimming past the ship, making the temptations of a swim call far less appealing.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Friday, November 16, 2018

Noon Position: 11°32.6′ S – 126°20.2′ E

Course + Speed: W by N + 7.2 kts

Wind direction + Force: Calm

Swell Height + Direction: 1m

Weather: hot hot

Day’s Run: 170.2 nm

Passage Log: 2614.4 nm

Distance to Port: 700 nm

Voyage: 12983.8 nm

Sails Set: inner jib, fore topmast staysail, main t’gallant staysail, main topmast staysail, mizzen topmast staysail

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Day’s Run – 15 November, 2018

Breezy morning on deck as the winds picked up on our beam. As crew munched down on this morning’s breakfast of porridge and eggs, grey skies rolled towards us. At 0830 the rain poured, nobody complained, it was a refreshing start to the day after an evening of hot, humid air. This sent every department into cleaning and inventory mode. The 8-12 watch slacked wet gear to ensure that the manila lines wouldn’t strain under tension. The riggers took a break from climbing aloft and dug down below the salon into the sole, organizing and taking inventory of the ship’s rigging supplies.

Once the rain cleared, the carpenters hauled out tools to be cleaned up, they have spent the afternoon sprucing them up on the hatch. Clara was able to add stitching to the new t’gallant. And six-year-old Dawson reeled in a fish! A “baby tuna” as he calls it.

One of the biggest jobs today is preparing for our Thanksgiving Feast tonight! Celebrating the American traditional meal of family gathering around the dining room table, in our case the salon, overstuffing themselves with turkey and pie and arguing over who snores the loudest. It’s fitting that we are celebrating a holiday that is traditionally spent with family, because whether we like it or not that’s what we are.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Thursday, November 14, 2018

Noon Position: 10°52.6′ S – 129°16.5′ E

Course + Speed: W + 8 kts

Wind direction + Force: ENE + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly

Weather: Sunny, hot

Day’s Run: 187.3 nm

Passage Log: 2442.4 nm

Distance to Port: 860 nm

Voyage: 12811.8 nm

Sails Set: Inner and outer jib

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Day’s Run – 14 November, 2018

Off Coburn Penninsula

Hot, hot, hot again today, we’ve been lucky that once the evening rolls around and the sun retires for the night, things cool off and crew are able to get a good night’s rest. As soon as breakfast rolls around the following day we are lathering on sunblock and awnings are rigged up in order to protect us from the sun’s violent rays.

Today we have almost every deck covered by a tarp or awning, it looks as though we have little fortresses all around our ship; the main deck awning, the bridge awning, helm awning, and the quarterdeck, aloha deck and foc’sl head all are blanketed with protection in order for crew members to work in the comforts of the shade.

Despite the heat, the crew continues to work, keeping the ship up. On the main mast, the tangs that hold the mizzen stay are being rust busted as well as the starboard fore shrouds. The foresail sheet sheave in the bulwarks was overhauled and reinstalled. The sheer pole on the starboard side of the mainmast was re-lashed in place.

The carpenters, Carlos of Ontario and Mandy of Colorado, work on installing a new plank in the quarterdeck and caulking it by hammering the oakum around the plank. This is the traditional method of caulking a ship’s deck. Sailmakers, John of Massachusetts and Clara of Denmark, are busy applying window patches to the royal, this sail dates back to the ship’s third world voyage! Brittni works away at completing the three-step pilot ladder while Corey scraped and primed the coffee station. Busy morning on board, what’s keeping us all going throughout the afternoon is the Captain’s idea of having a mid-day power shower! The fire hose will be rigged up on port side, work will be put on pause and everyone will enjoy a refreshing cool down.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Noon Position: 10°35.4′ S – 132°26.3′ E

Course + Speed: W 1/2 N + 4.9 kts

Wind direction + Force: ESE + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly

Weather: HOT

Day’s Run: 116.5 nm

Passage Log: 2,254.1 nm

Distance to Port: 1050 nm

Voyage: 12623.5 nm

Sails Set: lower topsails, upper topsails, t’gallants, fore topmast staysail

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Day’s Run – 12 November, 2018

It’s a beautiful sailing day onboard, heading west, almost dead downwind, braced square with all square sails set. Picton Castle looks like a majestic ship straight out of a film. Hmm, Picton Castle is a majestic ship!

Bacon for breakfast! It’s always a good start to the week when the sweet aromas of bacon waft through the ship as you climb out of your bunk. This week we have three new daymen working under our skilled crew. Joining the sailmaking department is, Clara of Denmark, who stitched away on the new spanker canvas on the main deck, while John and Kimba worked on the quarterdeck finishing off the new main topmast staysail. The carpenter this week, Mandy of Colorado, is learning her way around the carpenter shop, gaining knowledge on the ship’s various tools and helping Carlos fit the new planks on the quarterdeck. Lastly, helping rigger Abbey this week is Rhyanne of South Carolina. This morning Abbey showed Rhyanne the ins and outs of basic rigging, giving a tour of the tar locker, which is where the rigging tools and supplies are kept, and reviewing knots. After which the rigging team set themselves up to send down the starboard fore upper topsail foot rope. Once the temporary foot rope was rigged they gathered the foot rope, nipped it together in a circle and sent it down to the deck in a controlled manner.

While aloft the riggers spotted a large snake swimming along the starboard side of the ship! Rather exciting and amazing to see Mother Nature’s wildlife first hand. Once down on deck, the team rigged up the foot rope on the well deck by fastening it to the shrouds & ladders and hauling it tight in order to work on it. Abbey demonstrated how to serve the wire to Rhyanne as Dustin and Annie performed patch servings throughout. A foot rope is made up of 1/2″ wire, then wrapped in parceling and served, meaning to cover the parcelled wire in marline. This protects the wire which in turn increases its useful working life.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Monday, November 12, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31.1’S x 136°14/6’E
Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 3.3 kts
Wind direction + Force: E by N + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2m + E by N
Weather: Sunny, blue skies
Day’s Run: 79.3 nm
Passage Log: 2027.9 nm
Distance to Port: 1270 nm
Voyage: 12397.3 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner and outer jibs, main topmast stays’l, mizzen stays’l

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Day’s Run – 11 November, 2018

Sunday at Sea! There is always a sense of calm when waking to sunny, calm seas and winds on Sunday morning. Even though the ship’s routine is the same, same wake-up times and same meal times, Sundays have an air of peacefulness about them. With no projects being opened up, no sails laid out on the deck and no riggers gearing up to head aloft, crew members take time to catch up on their personal projects.

It was an active morning on the hatch, with the awning strung up and shipmates gathering underneath to seam or grommet their ditty bags, enjoy their book and chit-chat. Dawson had a series of clothespins snapped together and it was his snake. The well deck was filled with shipmates doing laundry and woodworking, crew members have been busy carving their own bowls, cups, spoons and stools!

Lead seaman Abbey got up this morning and performed her rig check. Every lead seaman has an area or two of the ship that they maintain. Each of the masts are distributed among the lead seamen as well as areas such as the tar locker, carpenter’s shop, paint locker, tween decks, and carpenter’s and paint stores. This ensures items are organized, supplies are stocked up and waste is kept to a minimum. This afternoon the Captain will hold a discussion on Bali, educating the crew on the ins & outs and dos & don’ts of the country. This will increase our excitement about our first port since leaving the South Pacific!

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31’2 S – 137°34.8′ E
Course + Speed: W b N 1/2 N + 3.4 kts
Wind direction + Force: ENE + 3-4
Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly
Weather: Sunny
Day’s Run: 81.5 nm
Passage Log: 82.2 nm
Distance to Port: 1350 nm
Voyage: 12317.5 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

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