Captain's Log

Archive for January, 2019

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Day’s Run – 13 January, 2019

How lucky we are to have a Sunday at Sea during our four-day passage from Rodrigues to Reunion! Sundays are sacred for sailors, a day to catch up on personal projects, reading, as well as sleep. With all ship’s work ceased, the ship’s decks have a pleasant calm washed over them. This morning’s breakfast was prepared by Jack, Nic and Kimba: delicious eggs with green and red peppers, blueberry oatmeal and a variety of fruit; apples, pineapple, dragon fruit and passion fruit. The well deck this morning was filled with shipmates hand washing and hanging their laundry to dry. Engineer Deyan constructed a fancy new shelf for his bunk, and Anders gleefully completed making his personal roping/sewing sailmaker’s palm and went straight into stitching his sea bag, while six-year-old Dawson educated the crew members lounging on the aloha deck about what a mammal is. After lunch, the crew were able to cool off with a refreshing power shower. It’s rather hot today, with little to no breeze cooling us down on deck most of us are seeking shade when we can or sporting ever so stylish large hats to protect us from the sun. This evening at 1700 the Captain will host a discussion on Reunion, to brief the crew on docking as well as what the island entails and his personal recommendations on what to see and do on the French colonial Indian Ocean island.
From: Rodrigues

Towards: Reunion

Date: Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Noon Position: 20°56.2’S x 058°18.0′ E

Course + Speed: NW + 6

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 110.9 nm

Passage Log: 301.9 nm

Distance to Port: 168.3 nm

Voyage: 17496.5 nm

Sails Set: All square sails are set

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Day’s Run – 12 January, 2019

As we steadily sail along today between 5 – 6 knots, crew members are taking advantage of the lovely sunny weather with the perfect sea breeze whisking through our rigging and stays, cooling our sun-warmed faces. This morning a few work tasks were completed before our half day off work this Saturday afternoon could commence. The two fruit lockers on the quarterdeck received a top coat of fresh buff paint. The door and door frame that leads from the well deck into the carpenter’s shop got a fresh coat of varnish. On the quarterdeck, sailmaker John of Massachusetts finished up the last few stitches of the royal CT 15’s new sun patch. After lunch the paint locker was closed up for the day, the sailmaker packed up his sail making tools and project and all work was laid to rest. The on-duty watch were able to bring out a book on deck or a personal project and plunk away while being on stand by for sail handling.

From: Rodrigues

Towards: Reunion

Date: Saturday, January 12th, 2019

Noon Position: 20°42.8′ S x 060°15.8’E

Course + Speed: W 1/2 N + 4.6 kts

Wind direction + Force: E + 3-4

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + Easterly

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 109.7 nm

Passage Log: 186.5 nm

Distance to Port: 278.9 nm

Voyage: 17381.1 nm

Sails Set: All sails set

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Day’s Run – 11 January, 2019

First day back out to sea. It always feels good to be back to our regular schedule. Away from the hustle and bustle of port, back out in the open ocean air. Ship’s work resumed as usual. Rhyanne, of South Carolina, was given the task of touching up our ship’s emblem; a castle turret with an anchor imprinted on it and a dragon wrapped around the turret. We have two, one on either side of the funnel on the stackhouse, high above our quarterdeck, looking out over the vessel like gargoyles on a church. Our Lunenburg dory, Sea Never Dry’s bottom is looking refreshed, after a few coats of bottom paint and a top coat she’ll float better than ever.

In the afternoon, the Captain and our Chief Mate held seamanship workshop on coiling. How to properly coil a line whether it’s on deck or coiled in your hand, followed by how to coil hawsers and coils made for running, which lead into practicing coiling the head sail halyards for running and then testing the newly learned technique by taking in all four head sails at once, a rather fun exercise to end the workday off with.

From: Rodrigues

Towards: Reunion

Date: Friday, January 11th, 2019

Noon Position: 19°53.8’S x 062°00.0’E

Course + Speed: W by N 3/4 N + 3.8 kts

Wind direction + Force: E + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + ENE

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 78.6 nm

Passage Log: 76 nm

Distance to Port: 382.6 nm

Voyage: 17270.6 nm

Sails Set: All sails set,

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Day’s Run – 10 January, 2019

Rodrigues was delightfully relaxing port. After a busy yet amazing stay in Bali and a wonderful 30 day ocean passage, a sleepy French speaking Mauritius island was just the best. Very friendly people, easy town to stroll around in. Popping in and out of shops or relaxing beach side as the sun was setting, enjoying a delicious local meal and a refreshingly cold ice cream for dessert. The temperature generally ranged around 28°C – ice cream is a staple in a sailor’s day off routine. The shops were filled with wonderful locally made handicrafts; woven natural fibre baskets, decorative hats, table mats and hot pads. And the clothes! There was an abundance of stylish clothing sold for amazingly affordable prices. At this point in our year-long journey, many of us are running low on presentable clothing, as the clothing we brought has become the victim of life at sea.

At 1600 we sailed off the hook, having been at anchor since leaving the harbour in the morning to make room for the island’s supply vessel. Anchor up, skiff hoisted and loose all sails, leaving the royals secured in their gaskets for the time being. Dirk set our course northwest. Once the excitement of setting all sails had ceased, the engine was shut off and all lines were neatly coiled and hung on their respective pins, the crew were broken into sea watches. The 4-8 watch took the deck as the rest took to their bunks, we are back at sea.

From: Rodrigues

Towards: Reunion

Date: Thursday January 10th, 2019

Noon Position: 19°40.7’S x 63°25.2’E (at anchor)

Course + Speed: N/A

Wind direction + Force: N/A

Swell Height + Direction: N/A

Weather: Partly cloudy morning, clear by 1000, dry + warm

Day’s Run: N/A

Passage Log: N/A Distance to Port: 464 nm

Voyage: 17181.0 nm

Sails Set: N/A

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Day’s Run – 6 January, 2019

The stars aligned for us, we’ve been granted another Sunday at Sea! The swells rise 2-3 meters on our stern as we head North by West. Being that we’re 60 nautical miles off the coast of Rodrigues, we sail along at 4 knots in the home stretch. Intending on arriving at the small island that’s part of the country of Mauritius tomorrow morning, today the crew reorganize their personal belongings, catch up on reading and rest.

Hot, hot day on deck at high noon has caused the crew to relax below decks, where the air is cool and the sun is obstructed. The deck has an amazingly calm, quiet feel to it, different than the usual hustle and bustle of the week. That hasn’t stopped our crew members from fiddling with projects: Ted works on reviewing his knots, today he is mastering the wall and crown knot; Carlos sits on the fo’c’sle head line locker drawing construction plans for his home in Canada; and James sharpens his knife, a much needed and long overdue task.

This afternoon we will be able to cool off with a refreshing power shower! A great way to end off a fantastic 29-day passage. We couldn’t have asked for better sailing, weather and crew. It’s been a wonderful start to the new year.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Sunday January 6th, 2018

Noon Position: 19°15.6’S x 064°24.5’E

Course + Speed: N by W 1/2 W + 4.1 kts

Wind direction + Force: E by N + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2m + E,SE,NE

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 95.0 nm

Passage Log: 2954.5 nm

Distance to Port: 60.2 nm

Voyage: 17101.5 nm

Sails Set: Upper tops’ls, lower tops’ls, inner and outer jib

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Day’s Run – 5 January, 2019

A productive Saturday morning aboard the Picton Castle! To start the day off, as the bright golden sun rose on our stern, the on duty watch tacked the ship at 0545, putting us on a starboard tack.

The work day rolled out as like any other day. Tyler, of Ontario, spruced up our three-step ladder that gets up to the rail by painting a coat of stone (that’s a colour) onto the portable stairs. They are used amidships for those boarding the deck from a small boat or gangway to safely get over the rail. Lead seaman Abbey, of North Carolina, buffed up the demon locker, properly named: the demon locker is a deck chest that Abbey originally painted during Bosun School 2018, inspired by a the Spanish artist Goya, the lid is based off of his painting ‘Satan Eating His Children’. Abbey can be a bit dark. The demon locker lives on the well deck, conveniently houses our natural fiber gaskets and is a great conversational piece.

Up on the quarterdeck, Katie and Arne coat the seams of the deck planks with a  mixture of linseed oil and putty to add an extra layer to seal the caulking. The sailmakers stitched away on the Royal CT 15’s sun patch, a sun patch is an extra layer of light canvas, roughly a foot and a half depth that is sewn onto the back of the sail at the head so that when the sail is furled, rolled up into itself, and sits on the yard it is protected from the sun. The sun, rain and mold can wear away at the material of the sun patch without harming the sail, protecting the sail and enhancing its longevity.

Preparations are being made for arrival into port. We will be docking in Rodrigues, an island that is part of the country of Mauritius.  The last time we came alongside was in Vanuatu three months ago. The Captain has been mentally preparing us, discussing how he goes about docking the ship, the commands he uses, the tools we use like heaving lines and the names, positions and importance of our mooring lines. To end the day off we took in and stowed royals, making it the first time in four weeks that they had been put to bed.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Saturday January 5th, 2019

Noon Position: 19°13.6’S x 066°05.1’E

Course + Speed: NW by W + 4.3′

Wind direction + Force: E + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2-3m + SE/E

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 99.8 nm

Passage Log: 2855 nm

Distance to Port: 152.6 nm

Voyage: 17002.0 nm

Sails Set: All square sails, inner and outer jib

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Day’s Run – 4 January 2019

Sunny, sunny, hot day on board Picton Castle. As we sway from port to starboard, the swells have increased slightly, resulting in more water washing over the deck. With a rather calm passage, 26 days to be exact since we left Bali, and suddenly we’re on a starboard tack. It’s as if our world has been turned upside down. Suddenly the lee side is now on port, this is rather important when you discard water buckets over the rail as  throwing it to weather causes the water to come back in your face, or the old coffee grounds to end up on the topsides of our white hull, so situational awareness must always be at play.

Checking off the items of today’s work list, the riggers, Anne-Laure and apprentice Nic, sent up the fish tackle after being re-served and having new chafe gear stitched on. It lives on the most forward pinrail on the foc’sle head. Once that was finished they moved onto cutting new gaskets to be whipped and sent aloft and are now working on end for ending the flying jib halyard. End for ending means to swap the ends, the standing end, that lives high up on the foremast will now become the hauling end that is made off to a metal pin on the well deck. James lent the riggers a hand this morning by adding chafe gear to the main topmast shrouds. The carpenters, Carlos and Valerian, got a coat of primer on the new kitty litter box as well as a coat of bottom paint on our Lunenburg Dory Shop Dory, Sea Never Dry. The sailmaking duo, John and Ted, have stretched out royal CT 15, which stands for Cape Town 2015, making that sail 4 years old, and they are replacing the rope cover on this young sail. Lots of sunscreen is being used today. We will sure miss this warm, shorts-wearing, sarong-sporting summer weather days once we get closer to South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. We’ll enjoy these days while we have them!

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Friday January 4th, 2019

Noon Position: 19°13.3’S x 67°50.9’E

Course + Speed: NW + 4.3 kts

Wind direction + Force: E by N + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 2 1/2 m + NE, SE

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 102.3 nm

Passage Log: 2,750.8 nm

Distance to Port: 251.5 nm

Voyage: 16897.8 nm

Sails Set: All square sails, outer jib, inner jib, main t’gallant stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 3 January, 2019

Beautiful rainbow sunrise off our stern this morning. As the sun rose the winds changed veering from South East by East to South East by South. At 0800 we braced square and passed the head sails, putting us on a starboard tack. Helm was rather fun this morning, the helmsman had to be, like always, extremely focused at keeping our ship on course. This can be a rather fun game, having to put three turns on and then immediately take them off as the bow swings in the direction you want her to go. A morning squall rolled through, soaking both cats, neither were very happy about it.

On this morning’s work agenda the engineers stayed dry down below, overhauling all of the ship’s water pipes, both fresh water and salt water. The on duty watch stood by for sail handling during the light squall. Once it passed they got into ship’s work, unbending the stuns’ls from the yards and stowing them. Because we’re arriving in port shortly, we don’t need them now. John-Boy, one of our youngest crew members, 16 years of age, worked on patch servings on the starboard fore shrouds. The carpenter team, Carlos and Valerian, continue work on the new cat litter box. The riggers sent down the stuns’l gear and hauled in the booms that are rigged in the stuns’l irons on the fore upper topsail yard, fore lower topsail yard, and fore yard.

The skies have cleared this afternoon, allowing the sailmakers to resume their usual position on the quarterdeck, laying out the new spanker, adding brail patches and tabling. Preparations for port are underway, the overall atmosphere is a happy crew. Happy  to be out at sea and thankful for such a wonderful Indian Ocean crossing.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Thursday January 3rd, 2019

Noon Position: 19°20.1’S x 069°39.6’E

Course + Speed: NW by W 1/2 W + 5.1 kts

Wind direction + Force: Easterly + 4 Swell Height + Direction: 2-3m + NE/SE

Weather: Light morning rain, overcast, periods of sun Day’s Run: 122.1 nm

Passage Log: 2,646.6 nm Distance to Port: 352.6 nm

Voyage: 16793.6 nm

Sails Set: All square sails, outer jib, inner jib

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Day’s Run – 2 January, 2019

Last night we retarded our ship’s clock an hour, which means we gain an extra hour of sleep! Weather is blissfully perfect, clear blue skies, a fresh cool breeze and radiant sun beaming down on us as we sail west with a steady fair wind and current. The fantastic weather and the steady sailing have us all in an upbeat mood.

Down below decks the engineers worked away on welding projects, only to surface for coffee and water. It’s always a wonder what they do down there. Rigging team, Anne-Laure (of France) and Nic (of Canada), overhauled our fish tackle, which is a tackle for getting the port anchor sorted after it has been hauled up. Lead seaman, Abbey, of North Carolina, worked on replacing the serving on the starboard fore shrouds. Third mate Corey, of Saskatchewan, overhauled the ship’s spare harness, while John-Boy chose to work on his wooden mug during his off time. The sailmakers, John of Massachusetts and Ted of North Carolina, had a tear to repair in the lower stuns’l, once that was complete they moved on to preparing the spanker for roping. The most exciting project of the day is a new cat litter box! Since we have two cats, Fiji and Tigress, we have two litter boxes. These cats do not like each other much so we need two boxes. The carpenters, Carlos and Valerian are working on replacing a worn out plastic box, making a wooden one to match the other, which will look much more ship shape in the end.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Wednesday January 2nd, 2019

Noon Position: 18°55.4′ S x 071°48.1’E

Course + Speed: WxN 1/2 N + 5.4 kts

Wind direction + Force: SExS + 4

Swell Height + Direction: 1.5m + SE

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 127.1 nm

Passage Log: 2523.1 nm

Distance to Port: 474.0 nm

Voyage: 16670.1 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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Day’s Run – 1 January, 2019!

Tuesday January 1st, 2019

Happy New Year! Last night’s celebrations were a huge hit. Today we haven’t wasted any time getting back into the swing of things and starting the year off on a good foot. It’s been a productive first day of 2019. Thus far, this morning’s on duty watch hauled out the fore lower topsail that was sent to deck yesterday onto the quarterdeck for our sailmaker John and his apprentice this week, Ted. After reviewing the sail and examining what work needs to be done, they got to work on the new spanker, which is looking more and more like a sail every day! In the rigging department, Liz laid aloft to change out the old foresail gaskets for new ones. Anne-Laure and her apprentice this week, Nic, changed out the main upper topsail buntlines, and overhauled blocks, their grommets and redid the seizings. The scullery team, Tyler and Niko, dove into the hold, reviewing and noting every dry food item we have onboard making a precise inventory prior to re-provisioning. As we inch closer to land preparations are beginning to be made for port. Knowing what we have in the hold greatly helps when we provision in port, making a shopping list for 37 people for a month is the next step! 

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Tuesday January 1st, 2019

Noon Position: 18°27.5’S x 073°56.0’E

Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 4.8 kts

Wind direction + Force: SE + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2  m + SSE

Weather: Sunny

Day’s Run: 111.0 nm

Passage Log: 2508.1 nm

Distance to Port: 600.6 nm

Voyage: 16541.0 nm

Sails Set: All sails stuns’ls

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