Captain's Log

Archive for December, 2018

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Day’s Run – 29 December, 2018

Last night the black Indian Ocean sky was radiantly littered with bright, twinkling stars and planets. When these nights arise, the night watches entertain themselves by learning new constellations. As we sail around this globe our night skies are constantly changing and new constellations are coming into our line of sight. It’ll be a sad day when we have to say goodbye to the Southern Cross which has been with us since before we crossed into the Southern Hemisphere nearly seven months ago.

The seas are small with 3-5 foot swell, the sun is hot and there’s a steady breeze blowing across the deck. Carpenter Carlos takes a break from wood working, as it is Saturday after all, which means greasing day! Carrying out a longstanding wind ship tradition for Saturday, he greases or oils all door hinges, freeing ports and the nooks and crannies on the windlass, keeping our ship well oiled and greased, keeps her running smoothly.

Today the residents of the forepeak, also known as the brocave, have been given the task of cleaning out the entirety of the compartment. Being full of boys one can imagine what it has devolved into over the last month or so, a task most parents of teenage boys can relate to as being much needed. Taking care of the space you live in is  important, especially in a ship where you’re co-habitating in a compartment with a close group of 4-8 persons, plus the other 30 or so on board the vessel.

In the rigging, Tyler spent the morning greasing the main topmast while James added a patch serving on the main shrouds by the lower topsail yard where the yard chafes against the shrouds. Liz chipped away on her personal project of completing her second ditty bag, cutting out a bottom to nail onto the canvas from maria wood she was given on Pitcairn Island. Six year old ship’s boy Dawson draws a scary lobster monster, inspired by the very small, loonie size (for those Canadian), Portuguese Man of War, a jellyfish like creature, that Nic unintentionally scooped up with the sea bucket while he was filling the sea sink! The sea creature was safely returned back to it’s natural habitat without harming any of our crew members or the jelly fish.

All in all it’s been a lovely Saturday morning on board. Astoundingly we’ve gone 140 nautical miles in the last 24 hours under stuns’ls still, topping out last night at 7 knots. The current is in our favour and in no time we will be sailing into the new year.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Saturday December 29th

Noon Position: 17°05.8’S x 079°37.4’E

Course + Speed: W 3/4 N + 6.1′

Wind direction + Force: SExS + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1.5m + SExS

Weather: Hot, Sunny

Day’s Run: 146.1 nm

Passage Log: 2430.4 nm

Distance to Port: 934 nm

Voyage: 16201.2 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 28 December, 2018

Smaller seas, lighter winds and cooler air on board Picton Castle today, which made for a lovely day at sea. This morning the 4-8 watch and those who were on deck got the stuns’ls prepped and set them again. They had been taken in last night for a squall.

The work day is laid out by the bosun, Anders, and the mate, Erin. Anne-Laure continued her work in seizing on ratlines. Dustin laid out to the head rig and replaced old gaskets with new ones and ensured all shackles have mousing wire securing them. Our medical officer Jen, of Nova Scotia, fashioned a new laundry line – very important to have sturdy laundry lines and plenty of them. With 37 people on board doing laundry from time to time, good to have. James, of Rhode Island, worked on splicing new main t’gallant sheets to their cleats that live on the main mast. Third mate Corey finished up the last of the new man ropes that will be cow hitched to the line between the davits above the monomoy and skiff.  Ted and Sue laid in with sailmaker John, working away at the new spanker. Productive day to finish the week off!

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards:Rodrigues

Date: Friday December 28th, 2018

Noon Position: 16°41.6′ S x 082°07.4′ E

Course + Speed: WxN + 4.7

Wind direction + Force: SSE + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SSE

Weather: Cloudy, yet bright

Day’s Run: 111.2 nm

Passage Log: 2284.1 nm

Distance to Port: 1080 nm

Voyage: 16054.9 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Another Day Under Stuns’ls

December 27, 2018 – Indian Ocean – noon position approximately 16-14 South / 083-58 – on passage from Bali towards Rodrigues and Reunion Islands

The Picton Castle gang is having a pretty classic studding sail sea passage across this broad southern Indian Ocean. ESE winds blow easy enough drawing us along at 4-5 knots, sometimes 6 or a bit more. Seas are modest and a brilliant blue. Skies are clear. Flying fish lift from the sea and soar off in small squadrons to sortie port and starboard from time to time. A fish on a line gets hauled over the rail aft every couple of days. A big mahi mahi this morning and an 80 pound yellow fin a couple days ago. We will get three meals out of that one alone, plus some sashimi. Pretty well out of fresh foods now. Such is the way of a windship on a long ocean passage. Good thing we have big freezers. But they too will be looking low when we make landfall. Makes our first night ashore on that distant island all the more delectable. Steering is easy with the stuns’ls set. If the helmsman gets it sorted out just right the ship steers herself just fine for long blocks at a time. Night lookout turns on the foc’sle are quiet periods of soft reflection, hopefully while still keeping a good lookout too. Perfect weather for almost any kind of nice ship’s work. Painting, varnishing, sailmaking, boat repair too.

Our fine Lunenburg seine dory, built at the Dory Shop on the water there and named for mariner/playwright Carlyle Brown’s one-man play of a Bahamian fisherman and his boat named Sea Never Dry, something of a more ethereal “Old Man And The Sea”, is getting a bottom overhaul to make her water tight again. Some halyards end-for-ended and new lines rove off. Ratlines are getting renewed aloft in stretched tarred 12mm hemp. Time to tar the whole rig it is. Perfect weather for it. Yesterday we spent some time discussing what goes into passage planning; expected weather conditions along the intended route, meeting certain milestones to make for more favourable weather conditions when in certain areas, political/group safety considerations, piracy considerations, destinations of desire and other considerations that go into overall greater voyage planning as well as the immediate passage. A lot about how this voyage is planned out. And some discussion on how to apply these considerations to other possible and likely passages elsewhere. Nova Scotia or New England to the Caribbean for example. Or New England/Nova Scotia towards Europe and so on. Might be useful later on, but interesting behind the curtain stuff anyway.

Christmas at sea was pretty sweet. I think having a 6 year old boy on board for Christmas seems to add a lot to our Krissmiss spirit. Dawson has enough spirit to share and it is contagious. He made a great job of handing out presents, his duty as the youngest aboard. He performed his task with gusto. Having a caroling group was fun too. In years to come when some will be wistful about a cold snowy white Christmas I suspect that more than one Picton Castle world voyager will get a bit a bit nostalgic for a blue-water, trade-wind Christmas under stuns’ls. Just guessing. In the meantime, a good time had by all this Christmas time at sea very, very far from any major bodies of land, with a flying fish breeze over the port quarter and all sail set to the royals as well as three stuns’ls out to port.

On we sail, a mere 1200 miles to our planned port of call of Rodrigues or another 400 to Reunion. Nothing to this gang. They have come 17,000 miles so far. This gang is made up of bluewater seafarers.

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Day’s Run – 27 December, 2018

A gorgeous pink sun arose on our port quarter this morning, the age old saying “pink sky in the morning, sailors take warning” was not in effect today. Another beautiful sunny day on deck, with white puffy cotton like clouds dispersed throughout the baby blue sky. At 0630 lead seaman Dustin of Nova Scotia noticed that the starboard fishing line had become taut, he reeled in the line and pulled up a sizable mahi mahi. Annie of Ontario and Colin of Nova Scotia filleted the fish outside the galley for our cook Donald to marinate and fry. It was a delicious addition to our steak dinner – yum! The day is always off to a good start when we catch a fish.

As the work day began to unfold, the tar locker opened up for the riggers, and the paint locker door was lashed open and the tarp laid out. Anne-Laure of France returned to her task of tightening up ratlines, the lines that run horizontal up the shrouds which we sailors use to climb up and down the rigging. Made of hemp, they’re extremely strong and durable. Carpenter Carlos hopped up on top of the galley house and began scraping the old paint off of the bottom of Sea Never Dry, our Nova Scotia dory, with the help of Valerian of Belgium. The port side counter top that sits on top of the veggie locker on the aloha deck was removed to be buffed up and re-varnished. Our veggie locker counter tops were last varnished during this past winter, it’s time for a fresh coat. Also on today’s work list was to swap out old, worn out sail gaskets, starting with the fore mast. Annie and Dustin removed the old gaskets, cut new ones from a fresh rolls of manila, added eye splices and whippings to the new lines and set them back up. It’s an excellent time to replace gaskets, as we have been and will continue to be under full sail for a number of days now. And last but not least, the sailmaking team continues to work vigorously away at the new spanker, finishing off the grommets on the head earring.

The grande finally of the day was when we set all sails and the Captain announced that we would be launching the skiff. Each crew member who wanted to would have the chance to motor around our ship in the small boat. The seas were perfect conditions for the boat to be safely launched, the sky was picture perfect and our vessel looked magnificent under full sail – the ideal photo shoot moment. Everyone was in awe. It was a healthy reminder of what our world looks like from an outsider’s perspective. Every day at sea we awake in our bunks, get ready for the day, digging out clothes from our sea chests and come onto deck, which resembles that of yesterday. There can be an almost groundhog day like effect. Today we were able to finally “look in the mirror” and remind ourselves of the bigger picture. That being the 37 of us, from all different parts of the globe, are sailing a three masted barque around the world.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Thursday December 27th, 2018

Noon Position: 16°14.1’S x 083°59.5’E

Course + Speed: W + 4.7′ kts

Wind direction + Force: SE + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SSE

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 106.1 nm

Passage Log: 2171.5 nm

Distance to Port: 1191 nm

Voyage: 15942.3 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 26 December, 2018

Calm, steady winds this morning, with a current that is conveniently headed in the same direction as we are, west, pushing the ship another knot faster. And just like that we are getting back into our regular schedule of ship’s work, as we are all in need of burning off yesterday’s delicious desserts and a the rather large meal. Niko, of Colorado, happily tings away at the starboard breezeway shroud chainplates that are actually bars of steel to chip the rust. Kimba and carpenter Carlos, both of Ontario, prepare their work area around our small dory that is lashed to the top of the galley house. The plan is to re-caulk the bottom to help her float better so we can sail her soon. Just below on the main deck, Liz, of New Brunswick, splices on a new port fore sheet. Our starboard shrouds are receiving a fresh coat of paint by Robert-Robert, of Quebec, who’s so nice we named him twice! High up in the rigging, Anne-Laure of France renews ratlines, replacing older ones before they give out. And aft on the hot quarterdeck, sailmaker John, of Massachusetts, lays out and seams on the tabling for the new spanker, while third mate Corey sews on grommets. Spirits are high on deck, as the crew are still reminiscing about yesterday’s very fun filled and relaxing Christmas at sea.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Wednesday December 26th, 2018

Noon Position: 16°34.5’S x 085°42.1’E

Course + Speed: W + 5.1′

Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 1-3m + ESE

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 120.4 nm

Passage Log: 2059.5 nm

Distance to Port: 1296 nm

Voyage: 15835.3 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 25 December, 2018

Merry Christmas all!

It’s 2000 here aboard the Picton Castle as we sail west into a gorgeous Christmas evening sunset. We had an amazing sunny day, the hatch was full of gifts and our hand made stockings were full to the brims with goodies. By 1000 am everyone was awake and gathered amidships around the beautifully decorated little  tree. The two youngest crew members on board, John-boy of New York and Dawson of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, handed out the gifts that surrounded the tree. Christmas music played throughout the ship and the Christmas cookies/baking that had been prepared the week before were laid out for all to indulge in. Joy had by all. It’s a rare occasion where all 37 of us are together for a substantial period of time, so today’s proceedings truly felt like family coming together around the tree, playing, laughing and loving one another. Being surrounded by miles and miles of blue blue blue ocean, as far as the eyes can see, there are less distractions and an emphasis is put on focusing on what is in front of you… mostly the desserts. Today our Picton Castle crew was a Picton Castle family. To top it off we were blessed with lovely Indian Ocean sailing, our stuns’ls have stayed set for two days now, with their canvas billowing full of Indian Ocean trade winds, like our bellies are more than full of delicious food. We had a fantastic meal made by our talented cook Donald of Grenada, and his lovely assistant, Stephanie of British Columbia; fish, steak, scalloped potatoes, fried chicken, not just any fried chicken but Donald Fried Chicken, DFC for short. To top it all off we were spoiled with nanaimo bars and fruit cake, thanks to Sammy! With ice cream for desert. We are having quite the feed today!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Christmas from the Indian Ocean. Lots of love, the Picton Castle World Voyage 7 crew.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Tuesday December 25th, 2018

Noon Position: 15°01.8′ S x °8741.5’E

Course + Speed: W + 4.4 kts

Wind direction + Force: SSE + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + SE

Weather: Sunny, hot

Day’s Run: 103.5 nm

Passage Log: 1938.2 nm

Distance to Port: 1417 nm

Voyage: 15714.0 nm

Sails Set: All sails set including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 24 December, 2018

‘Twas the night before Christmas and on board Picton Castle 

Not a trainee was stirring, all was quiet in the forecastle

The stockings were hung by the scuttle with care,

In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there;

The off-watch were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of short splices danced in their heads;

And Tammy in her sarong, and I, also in my sarong,

Had just settled our brains for a long evening’s nap,

When out on the quarterdeck there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bunk to see what was the matter.

Away to the bulkhead I flew like a flash,

Tore open the curtains and threw open the dog latch.

The moon through the rigging up in the air,

Gave a lustre of midday to the hatch cover out there,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature monomoy and eight tiny oarsmen,

With a little old coxswain so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

Faster than trainees, they tossed oars, alongside they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Chief Mate! now, Purser! now carpenter and Bosun!

On, Second Mate! on, Sailmaker! on, Riggers and seamen!

Hands to the boat falls!  Hands to stern and to bow lines!

Now haul away! Haul away! Haul away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the davits the long boat did fly

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I saw in the rigging,

That boatful of crew members playing and frigging.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the mainstay St. Nicholas slid with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his feets,

And his clothes were all tarnished with pine tar and grease;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the port shrouds he rose;

He sprang to the long boat, the crew eased away,

And down the boat flew and got underway.

But I heard him exclaim, ere they rowed out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Revised by World Voyage 7 crew member Anne, of New York

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Monday December 24th, 2018

Noon Position: 14°29.1’S x 089°23.4’E

Course + Speed: W + 4.9 kts

Wind direction + Force: S + 2-3

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + S-SE

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 117.6 nm

Passage Log: 1833.8 nm

Distance to Port: 1520 nm

Voyage: 15609.6 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – December 23, 2018

Last night the moon shone vibrantly, illuminating the deck as if a street lamp was hung above our ship. During the 8-12 watch, the topmast stuns’l halyard parted. With the light of the moon, the on duty watch was able to see clearly as they worked to take in all three stuns’ls, packing them away for the night. The Captain says it’s all good practice.

On Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise. There’s always a pleasant calm on Sundays, despite the watch schedule remaining intact and particular duties on those watches remain, there is still a feeling of relaxation. This morning, post breakfast, the riggers, lead by our chief mate Erin, along with many helpers, re-rigged the stuns’ls and had all three of them set by 0900. Increasing our speed by half a knot to a knot, over time, allows us to gain a lot of ground. Once the usual ship’s tasks like deck wash, cleaning heads, dishes and so forth and were completed, the on duty watch was able to enjoy their Sunday by working on personal projects or reading.

With Christmas only two days away the crew are frantically wrapping presents, or scrounging up a last minute gift. There’s no sneaking out of the house to run to the store to complete your last minute shopping around here. A little gift goes along away on board, a chocolate bar is gold, candy is always welcomed or a good book is much appreciated, in the end it’s the thought that counts, as it should be. Crew members are getting into the Christmas spirit, the carolers rehearsed on the well deck, the bat cave had a viewing of the Christmas movie “Elf'” and Christmas music is being played throughout the main deck. Tomorrow we will be bringing out our tree, crafting decorations for it and decorating the ship for our Christmas at Sea!

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Sunday December 23rd 2018

Noon Position: 15°58’S x 091°20.5’E

Course + Speed: W1/2N + 4.9 kts

Wind direction + Force: SExE + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SE

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 118 nm

Passage Log: 1715 nm

Distance to Port: 1638 nm

Voyage: 15490.8 nm

Sails Set: All sails except mizzen staysail, plus all three stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 22 December, 2018

We awoke to a sunny Saturday this morning! Excellent weather to set our stuns’ls, and that we did. All stuns’l booms were sent up, blocks and halyards in place aloft, then all three stuns’ls were set by 1100! Stuns’ls or studding sails are sails that protrude outboard of the yards, and as we are currently on a port tack, the stuns’ls are rigged on our port side, otherwise known as the weather side. By 1115 the t’gallant stuns’l bamboo boom had snapped, nothing earth shattering, nonetheless the sail and broken boom were taken in immediately, sent to the hatch to unbend as crew members found a new piece of bamboo for carpenter Carlos to cut to the exact length. The t’gallant stuns’l was bent on to the boom again, sent up and set by 1200.

Meanwhile, at the aft end of the ship on the quarterdeck, the riggers Anders, Anne-Laure and Annie were preparing the gaff topsail to be hoisted aloft on the mizzen to be bent on. Brittni and Tyler climbed aloft to secure the sail into place, reattaching the gear; the halyard, tack, and brail, until James came to relieve them and began lashing on the hanks. Hanks are metal ‘U’ shaped objects that are attached to the sail with robands and run up and down the stay as the sail is either set or taken in.

With our 3 stuns’ls and spanker bent on and set we have a total of 21 sails set. Once the gaff topsail is complete, the only sail missing will be the mizzen staysail. As the work day winds down, the crew are resting, or preparing for the holidays. Wrapping presents, completing their stockings and baking, a fair amount of Christmas baking has gone on this week. Christmas at sea is just around the corner, or rather another 300 nautical miles ahead. We’ll always remember the Christmas we set stuns’ls.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Saturday December 22nd, 2018

Noon Position:  15°16.5’S x 093°14.2’E

Course + Speed: W 1/2 S + 4.0 kts

Wind direction + Force: SExS + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SExE

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 94.5 nm

Passage Log: 1596.6 nm

Distance to Port: 1755 nm

Voyage: 153712.4 nm

Sails Set: All sails except gaff topsail and mizzen staysail, plus all three stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 21 December 2018

Happy solstice! It’s been a a productive and happy day here on board. Many hands on deck chipping away at our to do list. On the agenda today is to send up the newly repaired spanker gaff as well as get the gear and booms ready to set studding sails or stuns’ls. The bosun, Anders of Denmark, divided the on duty watch, riggers and crew members who laid in to help into two groups, one group to dig out and send up the stuns’l gear and rigging, the other group to prepare the gaff itself and the mizzen mast for sending up the gaff. Once the gaff was 100% ready to be sent aloft, meaning stays were greased, blocks seized on, and gear secured into place, the lead seamen rounded up many hands in order to carry the boom from the well deck up to the quarterdeck. Once it was laid out on the quarterdeck, the chief mate, in consultation with the Captain, rigged the gaff to be sent up the mizzen mast. It’s always fascinating to be part of moments like these, even more so while sailing along, with nothing but blue blue ocean as far as the eye  can see, white puffy clouds spread out the baby blue sky and the sun projecting its warm rays. Sending up the gaff was a great success! The on duty watch are now working to bend on the spanker, next will be the gaff topsail. While the gaff was being sent back up into place, the sailmakers stopped their sailmaking work on the quarterdeck and lend a hand. This afternoon they continue their work on the new spanker. Delicious aromas are wafting from the scullery to the quarterdeck as Colin grinds coffee beans, causing the helmsman to pine for a fresh cup of joe.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Friday December 21, 2018

Noon Position: 12°50.0’S x 94°42.7’E

Course + Speed: WxN 1/2N +

Wind direction + Force: SSE + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SExS

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 95.1 nm

Passage Log: 1501.4 nm

Distance to Port: 1849 nm

Voyage: 15277.2 nm

Sails Set: All sails except spanker, gaff topsail and mizzen staysail

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