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SUMMER 2019 HOMEWARD BOUND (Part 1 of 7)

Imagine coming home from a long, successful voyage: that warm feeling of accomplishment, the looking back, the winding down and, inevitably, the parting of ways. Then, deservedly, the sitting down and stretching one’s legs in a comfy armchair. Right?

Well, think again. Sailing home from World Voyage 7 in Picton Castlewas all of the above, sure. Only slightly compressed. Condensed. Like a zipped-up file. For the ship, port stops are a transitional period. There is hardly a clear-cut line between the end of one voyage and the beginning of the next. True, crew pays off and a fresh lot signs on. But the ship remains in commission.

Planning for the summer campaign had, in fact, started many months earlier during WV7. Preparations were well advanced by the time Picton Castle made Lunenburg on June 1. The usual end-of-voyage routine of administrative tasks, cleaning and re-stowing went parallel with necessary modifications for the summer and our regime of planned maintenance. Seeing the ship and her crew idle? No chance.

The engineering department was burning the midnight oil. An additional 4 septic tanks were installed in the engineer’s hold, increasing our holding capacity from 530 gallons to a whopping 1600 gallons. The plumbing going with this had to be installed, re-routing every single sink, shower, floor drain or head to the tanks. Prep work for this had commenced at Cape Town, but the bulk of the work could only be undertaken once the tanks were installed. And the tanks were waiting for us in Lunenburg.

Long hours indeed, for engineers and deck crew alike. But the perks of being in port must not be forgotten: Getting some rostered time off; seeing families and friends; stretching one’s legs ashore; meals at a restaurant; long showers; no night watches; and the modern conveniences of shops and internet.

We had a fortnight for the turnaround. A fortnight to transform our barque from a long-passage maker into what is possibly the centrepiece of the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2019. Was the ship ready when she sailed from Lunenburg for the vast interior of North America on June 15? As ready as any ship could be.

New hands had signed on for the first leg towards Toronto. Training and ship familiarisation was conducted under the watchful eyes of the Mate. Drills in emergency preparedness and response. Sail drills. Ship’s routine. All the things we do to prepare for going to sea. Sailing PICTON CASTLE is so much more than knots, splices, and terminology.

Picton Castle went to anchor in Lunenburg harbour on the evening prior to departure. Good thing to do. No more distractions, and a pure focus on the ship and the passage ahead in the settled quiet of our anchorage.

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