Captain's Log

Archive for the 'Pacific Ocean' Category

| More

Why South Pacific?

Why the change from the Atlantic to the South Pacific?

Captain Daniel D. Moreland

At the Picton Castle office and aboard the ship here in wintery Lunenburg everyone is pretty excited about the change from sailing to Europe to sailing to the South Pacific. Europe would have been great, but it takes more than me to think so. Europe is great in my view but how can you not get crazy excited about a square-rigger voyage to the best islands in the Caribbean, the Spanish Main, and on through legendary isles of the South Pacific Ocean? Who doesn’t want to sail to Galapagos, Pitcairn Island and Tahiti? And how else can this be done as a real before-the-mast sailor but in Picton Castle?

But why the change from the Atlantic Voyage? Well, there are a couple other reasons but the biggest reason, simply and honestly, is that we were not getting the level of interest in the Atlantic Voyage to give us necessary confidence that we would have enough of a gang to make the trip work. I for one think that this European/African/Caribbean voyage is wonderful, and we will see about setting one up again in the future. But for now, off to the South Pacific it is. As most of us know there is all but no other way to visit these exquisite islands or make these trade-wind passages in a blue-water square-rigger but to sail in Picton Castle.

Our gang, of course, is all excited about getting back to Pitcairn Island! Surf the longboats into Bounty Bay! But they are also really excited to make long trade-wind ocean passages across the warm blue South Pacific Ocean and put into and visit so many islands that we didn’t have time to visit on our earlier world voyages. The tall brooding Marquesas, the low coral atolls and lagoons of the Tuamotus group – shipwrecks and all, Tahiti and so many of the languid Society Islands of French Polynesia, and including some new islands like Raivavae and the famous and ever so iconic Easter Island. We have never been there before. Not many ships sail there. And on the way out and back we will be able to give enough time to amazing and culturally rich Panama and couple other stops in Latin America including a chance to check out the Yucatan. For something new and different, on the way home to Lunenburg it will be a fine thing for our gang to take part in a few Tall Ships port celebrations in the Gulf Mexico. And all beginning and ending in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada.

So, we are off to the South Pacific! Carpe Diem!

| More

Day’s Run – 30 June, 2018

Picton Castle made great headway last night, averaging 7 knots, staying on a southwest course falling off when the wind picked up. The advantage of being the only vessel for 1000+ miles, we have ample ocean room to play with.

This morning the rigging gang headed out into the head rig with tar buckets tied securely to their harnesses in order to slurp some tar on the rig. The sailmakers busted out their sewing palms and needles and carried on with stitching the bright white canvas for two royal sails. Today marks the last day of the rotation for these daymen, Monday a new group of crew members will have the chance to get their hands dirty with the riggers or enjoy their days under the warm sun on the quarterdeck to sew canvas as sailmakers. The well deck was busy as ever, Colin of Nova Scotia, Canada was at the wheel of the wire bench grinder cleaning tools etc. Vaiufia of Tonga was busy keeping the paint locker organized and our Chief Engineer Deyan of Switzerland was welding a replacement piece of steel into the carpenter shop door frame.

At 1358 keen navigators took to the quarterdeck, sextants in hand, to catch a noon sight of the sun. Then relocating below decks to the main salon where they could work out the math, read the nautical almanac and calculate their latitude. The mates have begun to get the crew involved in filling out the passage log. Every hour the log book is documented with such information as the latitude and longitude, course and speed, weather etc. This has been a great exercise for crew members to get involved with, knowing and understanding the world that goes on around them makes them become more aware of their surroundings. Today is the last day for the watches to prep for tomorrow’s Seamanship Derby, team uniforms are getting underway, lead seamen are encouraging their watches to practice knots and splices. It’ll be a great afternoon of good old-fashioned seamanship display, along with bribing, stealing and sabotage (all in good fun, of course).

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: June 30, 2018
Noon Position: 10°05.4’S x 104°26.9’W
Course + Speed: SW + 5.7′
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SExS
Weather: Sunny, light showers
Day’s Run: 136.2nm
Passage Log: 136.5nm
Distance to Port: 1712nm
Voyage: 4462.7nm
Sail Set: All sails are set


| More

Day’s Run – June 29, 2018

An absolutely beautiful South Pacific tradewind day. All sails set, sailing mile after mile, in the groove.

Gorgeous blue sky filled with puffy cotton-like clouds surrounding the ship and sea. Sounds of rust busting steel rails on the foc’sle, scraping and sanding Fijian mahogany pinrails on the quarterdeck, brushing on varnish and paint and sawing wood all echo throughout the ship today. The sailmakers are spread out on the sunny quarterdeck, needles in hand, seaming and roping two royals. The rigging gang finished off the last of the servings on the fore t’gallant footropes and re-secured them to the yard. The rig rat Lars of Norway continued his parceling work on the fore mast rigging, as Valerie of British Columbia spent her morning tarring the headrig. At 1252 ship’s time all sextants were in the hands of eager navi-guessers taking a noon sight.

This afternoon will be the last in the series of ditty bag workshops, soon everyone on board should have a canvas ditty bag completed and deeper understanding of basic sailmaking – always a rewarding task, and it provides a great storage bag for a sailor’s tools. Sunday is the Seamanship Competition, consisting of rope work, pin rail chases, boxing the compass, and most importantly the costume contest. Here’s hoping the judges accept bribes, the teams may need to muster up some alternative methods in order to come out on top.

From: Galapagos
Towards: Pitcairn
Date: June 29 2018
Noon Position: 08°55.4’S x 102°28.4’W
Course + Speed: SW 1/2 S + 4.8′
Wind direction + Force: SExE + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + ESE
Weather: Bright, Sunny
Day’s Run: 108.3nm
Passage Log: 115.5nm
Distance to Port: 1842nm
Voyage: 4326.2nm
Sail Set: All sails


| More

Pitkern Ilan -Pitcairn Island Log #2

What makes Pitcairn so special to us? Well, for starters, the island itself is strikingly beautiful. Pitcairn is a tall rock rising steeply out of the sea far from anywhere with a rocky and mostly inaccessible coastline, lush green valleys filled with banana trees and pandanaus palms, breathtaking ocean views, sparkling turquoise blue water at St. Paul’s pool, regal Norfolk pines dotting the tops of hills.

It could be the island’s history, including the Polynesian history of Pacific navigation, exploration and settlement before 1400 plays a part. Certainly at the top of the list is the story of the famous Bounty mutiny in the late 1700s and the ongoing story of the folks who have called this island “home” since 1790. It could be due in part to the fact that we have just sailed 3,000 miles under canvas across and down the wide South Pacific to reach Pitcairn.

But even with all of the above it is most certainly the Pitcairners themselves and how they make us sailors feel so welcome. Although heirs to a centuries old legacy of back to the land life on this storied island, each living soul there now has made a conscious decision to live the unique rugged lifestyle that is necessary in this remote place. Our crew find that the people of Pitcairn are a lot like us- in our world on the Picton Castle – all hands rely on each other because they have to, they must conserve resources and can make or fix anything from anything. They know each other well, tease each other (and us) mercilessly, and pull together when called upon.

When our crew first came ashore after a thrilling ride in the big longboat, each met their host family at the concrete jetty of the Landing in Bounty Bay (seas bashing spray over the black volcanic rocks where the Bounty met her end), threw their bags and themselves on the back of a 4-wheel ATV (known on Pitcairn as “bikes”) and drove up the steep switch backing ‘Hill of Difficulty’ on their way to their new home for two days. From that point, each crew member had a somewhat different experience ashore as they were involved with the lives of their hosts. We had been told, as Picton Castle approached Pitcairn, that everyone on the island was trying to get all of their work done before our arrival so that we could all relax and spend time together during our visit, so it wasn’t quite business as usual
when we were there. We were, however, part of all sorts of island fun.

| More

Pitcairn Island- The Story of Picton Castle at Pitcairn 2010 begins…

The Captain says that the only thing harder than getting to Pitcairn Island is leaving. He is absolutely right. Picton Castle sailed away on a beautiful Monday afternoon in fresh easterly breezes after an eight day stay. Each of the two watches was able to spend four days ashore exploring the island and getting to know the islanders. There were definitely tears in a few eyes at the Landing at Bounty Bay as everyone said their goodbyes, some in the eyes of Picton Castle crew boarding the longboat to sail away and some in the eyes of Pitcairn Islanders staying behind and waving from the jetty as the longboat pushed out into the big Pacific swell and back to the
ship. An amazing time at an amazing place with wonderful folks and truly friends of the Picton Castle. In fact, we’re considering renaming both, either Picton Island or Pitcairn Castle or both!

Before we get to the delightful aspects of our visit to Pitcairn Island – it was not all fun and games, far from it. We had a medical emergency ashore which called upon the skill, talent and training of the islanders and ship’s crew to deal with as well as the help of the Island Administration and French Navy. One of the popular things to do around Pitcairn Island is to clamber all over the steep cliffs, down to various parts of the shore around this beautiful island. A few days ago, while climbing back up from the shore with a group of crew and islanders, our Jimmy lost his footing and took a nasty tumble, falling down the side of an area called Down Rope. The group had gone down to see ancient Polynesian petroglyphs on the rock walls. The crew and islanders provided first aid where he fell, then transported Jimmy in a stretcher up the cliff to the well equipped medical clinic with the island’s doctor Bruce and our medical officer Gary in attendance all the way. Jimmy had broken his arm pretty badly so it was thought best to get him evacuated to full medical facilities in Tahiti as soon as possible. A French Navy vessel nearby could get him there much more quickly than we could, even going as fast as possible. So with the help of Governors Representative Lucy Foster and Mayor Mike Warren the call went out and soon Jimmy was on his way, along with two
Pitcairn Islanders who also had to get to higher level medical care. We are all extremely grateful to Commanding Officer Lieutenant Alexander Blonce and the crew of the La Railleuse for their rapid response and solid seamanship. Jimmy is now in hospital in Tahiti and all reports say that he is doing well.

| More

Arrival at Pitcairn

Picton Castle sailed past Henderson Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands, on Sunday afternoon. There are actually four islands that make up the Pitcairn Islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno. Pitcairn is the only one that is regularly inhabited, although the islanders make occasional expeditions to the other islands. Henderson is a raised atoll, one of only a few in the world. The Captain visited there on an expedition to collect wood on a previous visit to Pitcairn, while sailing around the world on the brigantine Romance in the 1970s. As we sailed past, he told us about landing the longboat on the beach on the north side of the island, chopping down trees and floating them out to the Romance, anchored off, to be loaded on deck. At that time, most of the wood for carvings came from Henderson, but now most of the wood is grown right on Pitcairn Island.

We had motored through the day to reach Henderson, but once we were there the engine was turned off and we set sail again, including stuns’ls. We sailed through the night, making between 5 and 6 knots to cover the last 120nm to Pitcairn Island. Paul sighted Pitcairn first on his 4-8 watch. By breakfast time we were just a few miles away, sailing in the direction of Bounty Bay, still with stuns’ls set on the port side of the foremast. As we approached land we took in the stuns’ls, and sailed along past Adamstown, around Matt’s Rocks and over to Tedside where we dropped the starboard anchor.

Shortly after 10am the Pitcairn longboat came out to meet us. The longboats are pretty incredible boats – very strong and sturdy, able to carry piles of cargo and people. The people of Pitcairn are great boat handlers, bringing the longboat alongside as gently as possible in the considerable swell. We had fenders all along the starboard side, and two heavy braided lines, one run from the bitt on the well deck and one from the bitt on the aloha deck, for the longboat to tie up to. There were all sorts of happy hellos as the Pitcairn Islanders came aboard – crew who hadn’t been to Pitcairn before introduced themselves eagerly and crew who were returning greeted old friends heartily. In between the chaos of meeting and reacquainting, Brenda took care of the immigration formalities by stamping our passports and Simon handed over some forms for each crew member to fill out. We got the lumber and barrels of gasoline, which had been stored on deck, unlashed and ready to load into the longboat. The next step was to open the hatch to the cargo hold so that we could pass things up. A previous log mentions a partial list of the cargo we carried to Pitcairn – all of it was passed up and over the rail, including lawn mowers, empty stainless steel drums, canned goods, bags of cement and more.

The first load of cargo went ashore with the starboard watch, who helped to unload it, then came back to the ship with the longboat for the second load. By the time we were done with the unloading, the cargo hold looked completely different – so empty, aside from the usual galley supplies and deck supplies. After the second load of cargo was loaded, the port watch loaded their personal bags and jumped into the longboat. Getting cargo into the longboat can be a bit of a challenge, with the longboat and the ship both moving in the swell, and getting people in and out takes waiting for the right moment when the longboat is an easy step/jump from the ship’s rail. The little turtles went ashore on the second long boat ride, getting sloshed around a bit in the bucket as the longboat beat through the seas toward the Landing. We got a good look at the steep, rocky edges of the island, and then saw the roofs of Adamstown as we motored past. To get into the harbour, the longboat crew look behind them, waiting for just the right moment between swells, to quickly scoot in and around the jetty, getting the boat tied up quickly alongside. It was an exciting ride and the port watch gave a cheer for the longboat crew once we were safely tied up.

As we got off the longboat, we started moving cargo and greeting again, getting the longboat unloaded for the second time and saying hello to the islanders who had come down the Landing. After all the cargo was ashore, crew found their bags, along with care packages for their hosts, then met their host families and threw their bags and themselves on the back of their hosts’ 4-wheel ATVs (referred to here as “bikes”) for a trip up the Hill of Difficulty and on to the homes where they would be staying for the next two days. Already changes were obvious to those of us who had been to Pitcairn before – the Hill of Difficulty was just being cemented on our most recent visit and now the paved road goes through Adamstown, past the square and all the way to Len’s house.

Within minutes of being ashore, some of the crew said to me that they were starting to understand why Picton Castle crew who have been to Pitcairn before speak so fondly of it. The atmosphere at the Landing, as crew and islanders met, was one of excitement and anticipation. It was hard to tell who was more pleased – we as guests or our hosts.

| More

Legs 3 & 4

“It feels like I belong here, like this is home” one of our gang aboard said the other day. Over the past three months, the crew have come to know the ship and each other well, increasingly becoming more than friends or coworkers as we all depend on each other and on the ship to carry us safely on our voyage. There is a word that describes this relationship-shipmates. To be considered a good shipmate is the highest praise for a mariner.

Picton Castle’s deep-sea voyages provide an adventurous seafaring opportunity that is rare and difficult to obtain by any other means. By being a crew member, you are very much an integral part of sailing the ship from port to port. Arriving somewhere having sailed there, having earned your way there, is much different than stepping off an airplane. Long deep ocean passages give you the chance to learn and practice seamanship skills, while short island-hopping passages test your snappy sail handling and ship handling skills. Add in visits to exotic ports and remote islands and a group of people from very different backgrounds who share a common love of their ship, and the result is a truly unique experience.

Crew members work hard and require a certain level of physical fitness in order to haul on lines, climb ladders and walk around a moving deck. While you have your own bunk, it will be in a compartment with a number of other bunks, so you must be able to get along well with other people. And most importantly, you have to make the commitment that other crew members before you have made, to always think of what is best for the ship and to act accordingly. Sailing aboard our beautiful barque is not for everyone but, for those who sign on, it can enrich your life.

All crew spaces on Leg 1 and Leg 2 of this voyage are full, but a few spaces will become available for Legs 3 and 4. Maybe you’ve been following along with the ship’s journeys from your home-now is your chance to step aboard and experience life as a square-rig sailor.

Begin your adventure by joining the ship in exotic Bali in November, then head out to sea for a long tradewind passage across the Indian Ocean. On this passage you will learn the names and functions of all 205 lines of running rigging that come down to deck, learn to steer the ship and keep lookout, and become familiar with the sails, parts of the ship and how things work. Put in at the French island of Reunion and explore this strikingly scenic volcanic isle. We also are looking into putting in to Madagascar and Mozambique. Set sail again for Cape Town, flying around the Cape of Good Hope with the strength of the Agulhas current. Take in South Africa, with off-duty pursuits ranging from shark cage diving to visiting vast game preserves to wine tasting. After a stay at Namibia we will have some of the most consistently perfect trade-wind sailing weather of the whole voyage crossing the South Atlantic, interrupted only for a brief stop at the remote island of St. Helena, site of Napoleon’s final exile. Carry on to Grenada and island-hop through the enchanting Lesser Antilles of the Eastern Caribbean, getting lots of practice with anchoring, sail manoeuvres and small boat handling. Ashore, enjoy local music – reggae, calypso, soca and steel pan- snorkelling, markets and much more. Then sail north next June, pausing at Bermuda, through the North Atlantic to Lunenburg to complete the voyage.

With a full 7 months of certified time at sea, you’ll be eligible to qualify for a first professional seafarer’s certification in most countries. Even if you don’t plan to go to sea again, you’ll find that the skills you’ve developed on board -resourcefulness, teamwork, responsibility-will serve you well. Your shipmates will become lifelong friends and you’ll have a trove of adventure stories to one day tell your grandkids. If the full 7 months is too long, consider joining for either Leg 3 (Bali to Cape Town) or Leg 4 (Cape Town to Lunenburg).

Think you have what it takes to be a good shipmate? Check out additional information on World Voyage 5 or contact our office for more details.

| More

Pitcairn’s Island

By Captain Daniel Moreland and Maggie Ostler

The Picton Castle is only about 9 miles from Pitcairn Island -we can see the moon setting over the west end of Pitcairn, we are still under full sail including studding sails and the sun rising in the east makes the clouds and our sails look like gold. We are THRILLED to be so close…

After a voyage around the world folks often ask our crew which port or island is their favourite. There are a variety of answers, but it’s often prefaced by “after Pitcairn?…” filled in with Bali or Reunion or somewhere else, all amazing places.

Pitcairn Island is a small, remote patch of land deep in the South Pacific Ocean, about 25 degrees south and 130 west, only a mile and 3/4s long by 3/4s mile wide, but quite high at 1,200 feet. About 3,000 miles from the west coast of South America, 1,200 miles from Tahiti and almost 3,000 miles to New Zealand, lots of ocean all around. As many people know, the folks who call Pitcairn home are mostly 6th to 9th generation descendants of the mutineers of the HMS (or more properly HMAV for HM Armed Vessel) Bounty and their Tahitian wives (Do you know who your gggggreat grandparents from 1790 were and what they were doing?). Others have joined the island over the years from both European and Polynesian backgrounds but not all that much. The island is steep, rocky and lush; it seems that anything can grow in the rich volcanic soil there – the climate is delightful being just subtropical. As small as it is it seems much larger and could easily take more than a day to walk around. It is a stunningly beautiful island with a rich variety of landscapes and dramatic vistas. There is also great fishing all around the island. And two springs of fresh water as well as good rainfall.

‘Pitcairn’s Island’ was first discovered by Europeans in the form of a British Navy vessel HMS Swallow on a voyage from
England around Cape Horn in 1767 and named for the young midshipman who was on lookout and saw the island for the first time. Young Pitcairn’s father later fought at the famous Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston at the beginning of the American War for Independence. This new island was reported as uninhabited at this sighting with no harbour. When the Bounty gang showed up at ‘Pitcairn’s Island’ some 33 years later they found lots of signs of earlier Polynesian inhabitants but no people. More recent archaeology is making the case for a very large settlement of Polynesians perhaps up to two thousand. These studies are suggesting that the island was an important Polynesian settlement from maybe around 700 AD to sometime in the 13-1400’s or maybe even a bit later. On the south edge of the island up in the
cliffs, in an area known as “Tautama” there is a particularly hard grade of stone perfect for the making of adzes and many loose adze heads laying about. Ancient adzes from Pitcairn Island stone are found in archaeological sites all over Polynesia today we are told. But in April 1790 the island was without people and after the mutiny and unsuccessful attempts at settling at populated islands elsewhere, that is just what Fletcher Christian was looking for. Although recorded in some of Bligh’s few books on the South Pacific with a position, Christian
also had every reason to know that the island would have been mis-charted for longitude as only in the years since the islands discovery had mariners been able to readily and accurately determine longitude through the use of recently invented accurate and portable chronometers. The Bounty had one of these early and precious chronometers supplied by the Royal Navy. It would be decades again before such instruments were commonly available to navigators. Back to the Bounty…The band of settlers, ex-mutineers and Tahitians unloaded and stripped the ship at Bounty Bay- we guess they had pretty good weather for a spell – in short order they ran their stout little wooden ship (about 90′) up on the rocks shore right near the current landing at Bounty Bay under “Ship Landing Point”. They
dismantled her some more and soon set the old Bounty afire so as to get rid of the evidence of a stolen Royal Navy vessels hull,
masts and yards sticking up and avoid encouraging any possible passing Royal Navy ship from looking too closely at this island refuge of theirs as Christian, Young and the rest knew they would be pursued by the mightiest navy in the world, and they were chased indeed but that is another story as is the history of Pitcairn Island and her people since.

While the population of Pitcairn has fluctuated over the years, getting as high as 250 or so, there are presently about 55 people living on the island. When Picton Castle, with our 52 crew members, shows up, we double the population. In order not to overwhelm the island’s resources (as well as to look after our dear ship anchored or hove-to offshore), half the crew go ashore at a time. We have friends and connections in many ports, but the connections we have in Pitcairn are particularly strong. Captain Moreland first sailed to Pitcairn as mate in the Danish built Brigantine Romance under the command of renowned sailing ship master Capt Arthur M. Kimberly in the 1970s and has stayed in touch since then. When our ship heaves-to off Bounty Bay after three or so weeks at sea and over 2,700 miles, one of the massive and powerful Pitcairn aluminum longboat comes out to meet us with a big gang of islanders; Steve Christian, Jay Warren, Dennis Christian, Dave Brown, Pawl, Brenda, Meralda, Terry, Randy, Brian and the good Mayor Cookie will be aboard (ashore will be waiting Len, Tom and Betty, Royal, Mavis, Nola, Reynold, Daphne and others). Likely in large heaving seas we will unload some of the supplies we’ve been collecting for the islanders in Canada and Panama, and half of our crew pile into the long-boat and tear off bound ashore.

This boat trip into the jetty or landing can be quite a ride at times. Sometimes the boat has to wait in the enormous Pacific swell before she races in right past where the HMS Bounty was scuttled and burned in on the rocks. Catching the right wave the boat surges around the jetty into the boat landing and lines fly ashore to catch the boat before she rides up on land. At the Landing, which has the boat sheds where all the boats are hauled up when not being used is at the bottom of a very steep mountain known as the “Hill of Difficulty”, things are a bit hectic as the packed boat is unloaded, almost the whole island will be down there to greet us, old friends reunite and crew members there for the first time are chosen out of the crowd with a friendly, “You’ll stay with me.” Where there are no hotels or restaurants on Pitcairn, our crew are taken in by families, to share their homes, eat meals with them and generally become part of the family life. We do what the islanders do more or less; ride around on 4 wheel ATVs, go swimming at St Paul’s (beautiful natural sea pools at the east end of the island), clamber ‘Down Rope’, go fishing, participate in community events in the village square, visit from house to house. But this is also very much a week long holiday for the islanders as well. When we show up is a bit like the circus coming to town! They don’t get so many visitors, not like this anyway. Hey! It is two islands colliding!

Pitcairn is one of the most anticipated ports we ever sail to, the current crew have heard stories from crew who have been there before, they know something of the history of the people or at least the legend. Pitcairn only gets supply ships two or three times a year, so anything they need or want that they cannot make or grow themselves can only be shipped in every few months and those supply ships are expensive too. Part of the excitement of our visit to Pitcairn is that the people who live there look forward to our visit perhaps almost as equally. For months, we’ve been in contact about placing orders for cargo, but also getting updates on islanders planting gardens, cleaning
out spare bedrooms and otherwise preparing in anticipation of our sailing over the horizon. Picton Castle will be at Pitcairn Island in a couple days – It may be hard to get to Pitcairn Island but the Captain says it is harder to leave…

Supplies for Pitcairn: heaps of treated lumber, 6x200L barrels gasoline, 35 miniature turtles, over 11 cases of tinned goods, 300 pounds flour, 90L cooking oil, 14 lawn mowers, 10 pair oars, about 25 machetes, kitchen knives, 85x25kg bags cement, one digital camera, 3 car batteries, 20 band saw blades, tiller, 14 mixing bowls, 48 web belts, 100kg raw sugar, 150kg white sugar, 3 bedside lamps, 31 packets vegetable seeds, 4 hammocks and more…

| More

Getting Close to Pitcairn Island!

With only 375 miles to go for the Picton Castle to reach Pitcairn Island – we are all getting pretty excited!!! In order to look after the ship whether she is anchored or hove-to offshore and also not to put too many of our crew on the island at once (and thus not overwhelming island resources) our gang will go ashore half at a time. Dr. Gary will go ashore for the whole time so as to see if he can be helpful on the medical/dental front – as long as the weather holds we will do 48 hour shifts on the ship and the island, then we’ll do a crew
turnaround with one of the big powerful island launches. The crew have been coming up with, practising and rehearsing their acts for two island concerts, sort of ‘command performances’, a variety of acts for all hands, Picton Castle and Pitcairner, song and dance, mime, guitar, violin, comedy, we’ll see how bad it is. Of course, first we have to unload all the lawn-mowers, lumber, food and turtles (who have been growing by the way and as of today they are all alive and frisky)

Today is sweet and sunny with lighter winds than before but we are still sailing along nicely with stunsles set, counting the miles down we are…

| More

Halfway to Pitcairn

On a long ocean passage in the tradewinds in the Picton Castle, or any other deep sea sailing ship, life falls easily into a gentle routine. It feels like we left Galapagos ages ago, but then I think back to something that happened last week and it seems like yesterday. Being at sea causes a strange perception of time for me. In some ways, every day is much the same as the one before – wake up, eat a meal, stand watch, steer, lookout, eat again, have a nap or read a book or work on a project, eat again, stand watch, sleep. Look over the horizon, watch the sunset, feel the seas rolling beneath us. Repeat the next day and the day after and the day after that.

Then there are details of each day that distinguish it from the others – some details are environmental and some are of our own making. Sometimes there are squalls of varying intensity to make us look lively. Sometimes what stands out is a good conversation over a cup of tea after supper. Last Sunday was Julie’s birthday, it was also a partial solar eclipse. On Wednesday the sunlight shone just right to take beautiful photos of the ship under full sail. Thursday was filled with marine life – lots of flying fish scooting across the waves in whole schools, two sightings of a whale close to the ship and then, having caught absolutely zero fish since the day we left Panama, all three fishing lines hooked giant wahoo at the same time (110 pounds of fish in total!). Sometime Wednesday night, we passed the halfway point
on this almost 3,000 mile passage to Pitcairn Island. Steering southwest day after day the ship has been under sail alone since our first day out of Galapagos and we’ve hardly touched the braces of the square sails since then. The mates have conducted celestial navigation workshops to get those interested started on this arcane, challenging but delightful craft. There is no better chance to develop this skill than on a passage like this one. Now it is up to each crew member to get up on the quarterdeck, sextant in hand, at noon for the meridian passage of the sun to practice taking sights to determine latitude. You have to get up earlier for sun sights to get lines of position and of course there are also morning and evening star sights at dawn and dusk.

Sitting on his old sailmakers bench on the cargo hatch, the Captain led a 4-part workshop on sailmaking techniques through the making of canvas ditty bags (old fashioned sailor bags looking like canvas buckets, used to hold tools), leaving the crew to finish up their homework and complete their bags. The sailmaker daymen have patched the fore royal and the riggers bent it on the fore royal yard (time for
making a new one the Captain says), the carpenters are working on spars for a sailing rig and a new self stowing rudder for the long boat.

The quiet routine of life at sea will continue for another week or 10 days or so until we reach Pitcairn. Then it will be like the circus came to town!!!

rsz captain introduces sailmaking through making ditty bags - copy

rsz gorgeous day for taking photos under sail - copy

rsz leonard cuts the wooden bottom of his ditty bag - copy

rsz paul uses the gaff to haul in one of the wahoo - copy

rsz rebecca and bob consult over ditty bags

View the the rest of this Album

© 2003–2020 Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company Ltd. | Partners | Site Map | Privacy Policy