Bosun School

Bosun School Graduation

Today, Friday August 28, is the last day of Picton Castle’s 2020 summer Bosun School.  We celebrated the students and their achievements a bit early, holding a graduation dinner and ceremony on Tuesday evening.  One of our students had to leave a few days early to start a job, working as a deckhand on the famous Nova Scotia schooner Bluenose II, and we wanted to hold the festivities while everyone could attend.  As an aside, two more of our students have also been hired by Bluenose II and will start work in early September.  We are very proud that the magnificent schooner Bluenose II came to Bosun School to look for fill-in crew.

This session of Bosun School has been excellent.  Usually the School is three months long, this time we compressed it into six weeks, with the main focus on small boat preparation, repair, launching, and handling under sail, motor and oar.  Students have also learned about knots and splices, wire splices, coatings and mixtures, caulking and pitching, and how to work together.  Bosun School is based on hands-on learning, so students have really rolled up their sleeves and dove in to various projects and practice.  Instructions, assignments aka “homework,” and practice all resulting in a useful product.  The test is in the use.

Tuesday evening’s graduation ceremony was attended by all 13 of the students, Captain Moreland who is the lead instructor, Tammy and Dawson Moreland, the Picton Castle shore crew, Captain Walter Flower and Captain Michael Moreland, both of whom have been guest instructors during this session, and Lunenburg’s Mayor, Rachel Bailey.

Leticia and Aaron coordinated the food for the event, which was delicious and plentiful.  Because graduation day was also Inbal’s birthday, Liz made two ice cream cakes, one for birthday and one for graduation (and both very yummy).  The students decorated the outdoor area with a nautical theme, putting ice and cold drinks into the Caribbean two-bow boat No Monkey that belongs to Captain Moreland’s son Dawson, pre-dinner snacks arranged in bowls on top of upright barrels, and oars as tasteful decorations.

After all hands were suitably stuffed with delicious dinner, the formal part of the evening’s festivities began.  Mayor Rachel Bailey began by bringing greetings and congratulations to the students on behalf of the town of Lunenburg.  Her message concentrated on the fact that this is what Maritime Lunenburg is all about, a powerful connection with the sea and sea trade. The valedictorian, Christiane, elected by the students, expressed gratitude to the instructors and organizers, and announced the results of some student awards, created and voted on by the students (including categories like best Fish Pea sailor: Joy, mostly likely to have paint on their legs: Lyra).  Captain Moreland then spoke, talking about the history of Picton Castle in Lunenburg and the skills the students have learned during their time at Bosun School.  Then it was time for presentations of certificates and gifts – each of our guest instructors received a certificate of appreciation and a gift from the students, and the students also had gifts for Captain Moreland and I (Maggie), which was kind and unexpected.  Each student was then presented with a certificate of completion for Bosun School and a hand-carved ebony fid made in Bali to add to their tool kit.  The final presentation of the evening was from us to the Mayor, who was attending her last official Picton Castle event in office as she won’t be re-offering in this fall’s municipal election.  Mayor Bailey’s support of Picton Castle and the Bosun School has been incredibly important to us and we wanted to acknowledge that.

As the end of Bosun School has been approaching, students are thinking about what’s next.  As I mentioned earlier, three of our 13 students already have jobs to go to, berths in the biggest two masted schooner in the world, Lunenburg’s Bluenose II, under the command of Captain Phil Watson.  A few others will be returning to high school and university this fall.  Some will be continuing to stay aboard Picton Castle for a few weeks to carry on with the learning and projects aboard.  All will be able to find a berth in a ship at some point soon.  In the meantime, more small boat sailing, more rigging and who knows what?

This Bosun School wasn’t part of our original plan for 2020.  If Picton Castle had been sailing as originally scheduled, we wouldn’t even have considered it.  But when it became clear that Picton Castle wouldn’t be going anywhere and restrictions were beginning to ease enough that we could consider putting together a small household bubble of students, it seemed like the right thing to do.  The students have benefitted from the skills they’ve learned here, Picton Castle has benefitted from having people living and learning aboard and using the ship, and we have another successful session of this skills enrichment program for young professional mariners under our belts.  And quite frankly, Captain Moreland I have benefitted too, by being able to help teach about ships and the sea for a new generation.