It has been a long winter for our venerable barque moored at our wharf at 174 Bluenose Drive here in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The Picton Castle, like any sailing ship, does better sailing in sunny trade winds alive with her crew looking after her rather than sitting under slush and snow with winter gales howling through the rigging, tugging at her hawsers. But so it goes…
Both before and after a big gale that blew through recently, the small Picton Castle gang went down the ship to check her over as is our duty and desire. Unlock the gate and down the wharf we headed. The ship was doing okay, if showing the effects of a long nasty winter. The four of us checked lines. She is all but sewn to the wharf there are so many mooring lines from the ship to the dock. Maybe two or more times what one would normally use. We tightened up a few hawsers and replaced a head line and a stern line. We hove in some anchor chain on the port anchor. We have the big 1,500 pound bower anchor and its massive chain set about 250 feet out into the harbour. Having this anchor set takes a massive load off the mooring lines as well takes a great deal of strain off the wharf itself. And altogether keeps the ship much more secure over a winter. The anchor and chain naturally get settled and so we heave in a meter or so just to keep something of a strain on the anchor. “Olde tyme” seamanship to be sure but it works so well.
Today we also took the time to open the ship and get her aired out. All to the good. All port holes, hatches, doors and skylights thrown open. And a good time to make an inventory of what needs doing. Plenty as one might imagine. Scrub down the decks and scrub the below too. Wash all the curtains, freshen the bunks, give the galley a good scrub. No shortage of painting and varnishing to catch up on, that’s for sure. Various fix-it projects to do as well. Then we can look forward to sending up a few yards, followed by blocks and running rigging next. The bottom is not too scruffy but we will want a clean bottom before sailing off. We have some general spring cleaning to do around the wharf and warehouse as well. Just need a keen gang to “giv’er” as we say around here.
But spring is more or less here – despite a few snowflakes today – some crocus flowers were growing near the chain link fence.