Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
A voyage around the world in the Barque Picton Castle is many things; a challenging adventure, a voyage of personal discovery, a chance to learn to be an accomplished deepwater seafarer, a
rare, perhaps unique way to access some remote islands and cultures as real crew in a sailing ship from the ‘Age of Sail’, and much else besides. But a major part of all this sailing 30,000+ miles around our watery globe in this square-rigged ship is simply the passage making under sail over miles and miles of bluewater sea miles for days and days, even weeks on end in steady tradewinds. And that is just what we are experiencing right now sailing ever deeper into the South Pacific Ocean, both buffeted and drawn along by the South East trade-winds on this almost 3,000 mile passage to little Pitcairn Island.
Dawn -The day comes in quickly in the tropics, the sun seemingly springing up over the horizon, taking the eastern sky from inky black, burnishing it to rose, orange and yellow smartly. The
stars blink out and the sun takes over. On their toes, the navigators up on the quarterdeck swing their sextants quickly to snag the stars they need for a nice morning fix while the sky is still dark enough to see the stars and yet also have a bright, sharp horizon to bring our star down to. Well before dawn our Cook, Donald has been in the galley, stirring about, boiling water, making coffee, fresh bread and then getting breakfast ready for the oncoming watch. At precisely 0600 our Swiss engineer fires up the generator to charge the batteries and provide the wash down hose with seawater under pressure for the 4 to 8 watch to scrub the oiled pine decks. Due to our system of batteries and charging we need run our generators only six hours a day to provide all the power we need for normal use. This not
only saves a great deal on fuel consumption but this system also helps keep the ship quiet without the noise of motors 3/4rs of the day. We think this is the way a sailing ship ought to be as much as possible. After scrubbing the deck the watch takes small buckets and wipes down and cleans off finger prints and smears that have accumulated here and there. The Mate of the 4-8 will
have the gang take a sway on braces and halyards to get the slack that may have come into them overnight. This also renews the nip where lines bear on sheaves and moves the point of chafe about making for more even wear. If the wind has laid down the mate might call for loosing and setting the flyin jib. If so a couple hands will scramble out on the jib-boom to cast off the gasket and soon it will be set and drawing. It’s a nice puller the flying jib. Every sail this barque can set, apart from stunsles, are set and drawing giving us eight knots much of the time. With washdown finished we have sunny skies, cool breezes on the port quarter, long blue white-capped seas rolling in from so far away – our canvas sails growing from gold into a cream colour as the sun rises higher and strengthens for the day. The helmsmen for this 4-8 watch have had a good run. Soon come the 8 to 12 watch to take over and start the days work at sea.