Captain's Log

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Good-bye to Lunenburg, Bound for Grenada

Finally, the weather has given us the patiently anticipated window we were waiting for while all hands stored ship, bent sail and went through their first safety drills. On Tuesday the 5th of December at 1300 the lines were cast off from the Picton Castle dock in Lunenburg and a fine farewell given by Deputy Mayor David Dauphinee and Captain Daniel Moreland. Lots of friends came by to wave us off, including Bill Gilkerson, Bob Higgins, Mikayla Joudrey, and the whole shore office team. Lynsey Rebbetoy, as usual, was busy to the last minute to make sure we have all we need. Chibbley decided to share with us the Caribbean adventure and is getting on with her bunk inspection as we speak.

With temperatures just below freezing point, and a breeze from starboard abeam, the light snow showers make sure we won’t forget to appreciate the fine warm weather we are about to sail in soon. Who was it that said it is fun to sail in snow? Ice was broken off the frozen stiff lines and the snow shuffeled from decks and pin rails; nevertheless, we all have smiles on our faces and are full of good spirits. With a long blast for Lunenburg from our ship’s horn, we left the dock and headed for Battery Point.

With great respect for all those seamen who sailed in stormy winter seas the crew lays aloft and loosens topsails. Cold hands and stiff ropes make us aware of how much we were taking for granted: centrally heated rooms not long ago…The galley soon becomes the most frequented place on board, a fine spot for warming up with hot water for a very welcome noodle soup and tea.

The weather is good to us: with 25 knots of wind on the starboard quarter we motor-sail past Cross Island following the backside of that Low with Hurricane force winds, which kept us waiting so long. Mysteriously enough we did not pick up any lobster pots on our way out, but just as we hit the open sea we happen to encounter one of the Canadian Navy ships. Not too far off we find a submarine operating in periscope height, and our first wearing ship maneuver is due. About time that something happens and makes us move; the ropes, however, seem to think differently.

Accompanying dolphins and a fine smell from the galley round up our first day at sea just fine, and while the moon leaves a wonderful sparkling light on the dark sea we look forward to our sunny and warm days, not too far away anymore.

Captain Michael Vogelsgesang
Captains shake hands with Deputy Mayor of Lunenburg
Crew haul the main braces in Lunenburg
David, Don Wilson, Lynsey, and Mikayla cast off dock line
Greg stands by helm in Lunenburg Bay
Winter in Lunenburg off the starboard quarter

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Grenada! Oh, sweet smells of land, and cool, cool drinks, hamburgers, piña coladas, the smiling faces of people on the street (whom you don’t know, and that is actually kind of nice!). It has only been 17 days since Fernando but somehow it feels like longer. It has been small islands and quick island stops since Cape Town, which was almost eight weeks and 5,600 miles ago, maybe that’s why. I can tell you that it feels so good to be back in the Caribbean, not far away from home but some of my favourite stops are down here.

Grenada is how I imagine the Caribbean used to be. Not too touristy but enough to be of comfort, fried chicken straight off the street barbeque, grilled corn on the cob right there on a grill at the corner of the post office, school kids in their pristine uniforms loitering, as kids do, at the shack selling cold drinks. It’s hot and humid and it just thundered and rained for 5 minutes. Now it’s dry and the sunshine is bright bright.

St. George’s Carenage is a horseshoe-like harbour, with little fishing boats moored right up to the edge of the street, the houses and buildings are tiered up the hill painted in an array of colours; pinks, blues, red and orange—very pretty. Up and over the hill is a bustling market selling everything you can imagine—spices galore, fresh fruit, and lots of crafts like baskets. The people on the street all say hello and smile. Some want to chat and find out where you are from. All of them are proud of the way the have restored themselves and their town after hurricane Ivan struck and devastated Grenada two years ago. It looks great to me!

The crew are busy arranging tours to visit chocolate factories where they grow the cocoa right there, visits to waterfalls and hikes through the jungle, stops at nutmeg factories and spice plantations—and ,of course, there is always talk of food and which little village they should stop in for chicken roti and lambi (conk). Already there have been visits to Grand Anse beach, a striking white sand beach with perfect clear water. Women wander up and down offering to braid your hair and sell you sarongs, and of course the men are selling drinking coconuts; they are so good!

The on watch made their own treats tonight: grilled hamburgers, fresh salad, and real French fries. That was after they dried and furled all sail, made the topsides look all pretty and of course the usual coming-into-port-things like putting chafe gear on the mooring lines. Sails are getting laid out on the wharf at St. Georges as vessels sail in and out of the harbour. An old iron sugar cane boiling pot from slave days is now a planter on the beach at Grande Anse.

Today was a great day onboard the Picton Castle and off board, too!

Getting a cool drink, Picton Castle at the far dock.
Grenada Sunset
Looking across at the houses, Grenada.
Looking around the harbor.
Old sugar cane boiling pot on the beach, Grenada
Schoolchildren loiter on the quay.

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At Sea on the Way to Grenada

An hour after dawn. A sea bird has found a perch on the jack-stay of the main royal yard. The 4–8 watch has just reset the stuns’ls on starboard. The topmast stuns’l yard broke a day ago, now it’s fixed and back aloft spreading canvas. Lead Seaman Pania is snapping off instructions and orders with clear professional dispatch to get the morning duties under way. Hands are set to nipping the buntlines that have come slack over night. After bracing in a little, the watch coils all the manila lines down before getting the deck brushes and hose out for the early morning wash-down. The cook pokes his head out from his caboose and brings a fresh cup of strong coffee up to the quarter-deck. Carpenter, rigger, and sailmaker daymen bestir themselves with tooth brushings and coffees before breakfasts and the beginning of the work day. Becky at the wheel keeps a competent, practiced, steady course. The generator churns to life to power the wash-down pump and charge the batteries. The skies have been largely overcast for the last 1,200 miles but it appears that a little blue sky is trying to squeeze through this morning. Occasionally a squadron of flying fish breaks the surface of the sea and takes to wing for a couple of hundred yards. The Picton Castle is making close to six knots in modest quartering seas.

Today at 07-58 North and 053-03 West the Picton Castle has sailed into the huge mass of water that flows out of the Amazon River. Our ocean waters have become much darker, a sort of blackish green. We have also picked up speed due to a freshening breeze and a little fair current. At night we can now see both the Southern Cross and the North Star. A small red bird has joined us for a spell. Turns are being taken to keep Chibley away.

This excellent gang in the Picton Castle have come a long way. This has been an amazing voyage and still is. There is a fair amount of discussion these days as to the Big Question: What Next? Years ago the crew in sailing ships, loaded down with cargo, months and years behind them as crew in a ship would spend many an off watch discussing this very thing.

Fair skies are finally ours
Red bird on the way to Grenada
Sunset at sea

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