Captain's Log

Archive for the 'World Voyage 7' Category

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Day’s Run 11 February 2019

Steaming along here making westing about 60 nautical miles south of Knysna, RSA (Republic of South Africa) which is on the bottom of South Africa and has great oysters. Not much wind but plenty ships round the “Cape of Storms” sailing east and west. And huge ones too. Plenty of bulk carriers and tankers over 1,000 feet long (300 meters+). Been damp all night but not bad. Making good time even if it is using up fuel.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 11, 2019

Noon Position: 35-03’S x 023° 16’E

Course + Speed: west at 7 knots

Wind direction + Force: light easterlies

Swell Height + Direction: small southerly swell

Weather: cool, overcast, good visibility

Day’s Run: 237 nautical miles, yep, that’s right folks

Distance to Port: about 320 miles

Voyage: 19,723 miles

Sails Set: none

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Day’s Run – 9 February 2019

Closed with coast of South Africa about midnight. Winds went from 25 to 30 knots out of the north to 10 to 20 knots out of the south west around about the same time in short order. Got into some lumpy seas. Hove to. About 0800 this morning got going again, conditions moderated near the coast about 8 nautical miles off. Braced back and forth. A good sailor gang we have to do all that. We have seen sharks today and whales and a big oil-rig ship called GPO AMETHYST  bound for the Gulf of Mexico, she got some kinda massive rig in her. Now down the coast looking to a happy rounding. It smells like Donald is cooking steaks.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Sat Feb 9, 2019

Noon Position: 31-07’S x 030° 16’E

Course + Speed: 220 T at 8.5 knots

Wind direction + Force: light SEly’s

Swell Height + Direction: large 2-5 metre swell, no white caps

Weather: hot, overcast

Day’s Run: 140 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 880 nautical miles

Voyage: 19,227 nautical miles

Sails Set: none

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Blowin’ Hard

Here we are about 60 nautical miles off the coast of South Africa near Durban. Picton Castle is under shortened sail and it’s blowing hard. Sheets are some taut. Not quite a gale but 30 knots and more sustained wind than we have seen in our flying fish sailing over the last nine months since casting off from the French Quarter in New Lawrence (this is six-year-old Dawson for New Orleans). Mostly soft tradewinds we have had, sometime fresh trades but not 30 knots worth.

Had a few musters to get the idea across that 30 knots sustained is a lot different than 15 to 20. When it blows like this as crew you need to think differently. In addition to extra lashings here and there, double griped this and that, a seaman has to walk differently, look aloft differently, pay attention differently. And stack dirty dishes in the scullery differently. Or not, and just let them capsize and come crashing down. We practised rigged all our “keep ’em aboard” nets. Rigged up the deck grablines. Practised closing all water tight apertures like portholes and skylights and watertight doors. The full gamut. Had to talk about steering. It can be hard steering in these conditions, but steer well we must. Now to get heavy winds experience, well, that’s happening right now, today.

The Mates, Erin, Dirk, and Corey, are doing an outstanding job of chasing down the small details that make for things to be mo’ bettah: cleared freeing ports, getting a gasket off a lower topsail sheet, shutting watertight doors in plenty of time, steering to get the feel of the ship.

And all that said, it is quite a beautiful day out here along the coast of Africa, sailing a great ship bound for the Cape of Good Hope and beyond.

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Day’s Run – 8 February 2019

Blowing pretty hard. We are 65 nautical miles off the coast. Under shortened sail. Expect it to blow a bit more before it lays down, maybe a bit over 30 knots. The gang is well briefed. Port and starboard watertight doors are shut on the cabin trunk. Everything pretty well snugged down. Double gaskets on t’gallants and royals and so on. Pretty day though, sunny with blue skies. Still have flying fish soaring about. Closing with coast of South Africa.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb. 8th, 2019

Noon Position: 29-49’S x 032° 33’E

Course + Speed: 240 T at 7.5 knots

Wind direction + Force: NNEly at Force 6-7

Swell Height + Direction: 2-4 metre swell, white caps everywhere, spray and foam

Weather: fair and partly cloudy

Day’s Run: 140 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 880 nautical miles

Sails Set: upper topsails, fore sail, fore topmast stays’l, main topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 2 February 2019

A fine sailing day at sea. Seas diminished, wind faired, yards almost squared, sparkling seas and nothing but blue sky. In sailmaking, the new spanker is almost done with Tammy roping and John stitching cringles. Spot painting in the dry weather, easy sailing as we head across the Mozambique Channel. Excellent rices bought at Reunion find their way to the meal tables. For the dedicated, sextants out in force to catch the sun, Mates and Captain fine-tuning plans for the Cape Town visit. Workshop yesterday was on serving rigging, and today’s will be to get a start on turks heads, rope mats and fancy ropework. Saturday at sea might include a few naps too. Cats playing in the scuppers with small bits of marlin.

From: Reunion

Towards:  Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Sat Feb 2nd, 2019

Noon Position: 26° 38’S x 046°50’E

Course + Speed: Swly + 5.5 kts

Wind direction + Force: ESE at 4

Swell Height: 2-3m

Weather: sunny, partly cloudy

Day’s Run: 123 nautical miles

Passage Log: 585 nautical miles

Distance to Port: 1,532 nautical miles

Voyage: 18,312 nautical miles

Sails Set: all sail except spanker

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Day’s Run – 1 February 2019

Sweet sailing day today as we head for southern Madagascar, painting, sailmaking, varnishing, steering, sail handling all part of the day. Seas smoother and winds lighter but all pretty nice.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Feb 1st, 2019

oon Position: 24° 28’S x 048°28’E

Course + Speed: SEly + 5.5 kts

Wind direction + Force: SE at 3/4

Swell Height: 2-3m

Weather: sunny, partly cloudy

Day’s Run: 90 nm

ails Set: all sail set

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Day’s Run – 31 January, 2019

Here at midday, the Picton Castle is bowling along towards a spot about 80 miles south of Madagascar where we will fall off and turn more westerly to cross the Mozambique Channel to make the coast of South Africa near the city of Durban. From there if all goes well we pick up the Agulhas Current and get a boost of speed headed for the the Cape. A lively day today. Sailmaking going on the quarterdeck. Extra lashings going on here and there. A large rainy squall engulfed us a few hours ago, no real blast in wind but once past the winds picked up nicely and faired a bit allowing us to brace in.

Today’s workshop: “Heavy Weather Preparation, Considerations and Practices”.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Noon Position: 24°23′ S x 049°50’E

Course + Speed: SEly + 5.5 kts

Wind direction + Force: SE + 5

Swell Height: 3m to 4m

Weather: sunny, partly cloudy

Day’s Run: 113 nm

Distance to Port: 1710 nm

Voyage: 18,081.7 nm

Sails Set: Spanker, fores’l, tops’ls, t’gallants, royals, main topmast stays’l, main t’gallant stays’l, fore topmast stays’l, inner jib, outer jib

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Day’s Run – 30 January, 2019

The crew were close at hand on standby last night, anticipating sail handling under the dark, cloudy sky with groups of stars peering through, as the moon beamed through the cumulonimbus clouds with a gorgeous orange/yellow colour. This morning has come in overcast and we had slight periods of rain, which stopped the sailmakers’ work on the quarterdeck. Once the rain cleared, John of Massachusetts and Tammy of Nova Scotia continued their work on the new spanker’s brail patches and leech patch.

In between sail handling, bosun Anders of Denmark has been busy overhauling the main topmast staysail sheet pendants. Cutting off the old chafe gear, inspecting the serving underneath, and finding to his delight it looked remarkably well, the old chafe gear was doing its job. Applying tar onto the serving, Anders cut a new piece of chafe gear and sewed it into place. This morning’s 8-12 watch worked away at securing the deck, adding extra lashings to our deck boxes, vegetable and fruit lockers and of course the kitty litter boxes. We are headed for the Cape of Good Hope and the Captain says it could get rough. The seas have calmed down today, yet more busy waters lay ahead. Luckily for the galley team who are cooking dinner tonight, it’ll be a calm afternoon cooking. It’s a wonder how our cook Donald manages to create delicious, filling meals when the ship is rolling side to side as well as up and down.

From: Reunion

Towards: Cape Town, South Africa

Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Noon Position: 23°18.7′ S x 051°30.0’E

Course + Speed: NW by W + 5.8 kts

Wind direction + Force: SSW + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 3m + S bW

Weather: Overcast, bright

Day’s Run: 138.8 nm

Distance to Port: 1847 nm

Voyage: 17978.7 nm

Sails Set: Spanker, fores’l, tops’ls, t’gallants, royals, main topmast stays’l, main t’gallant staysail, fore topmast stays’l, inner jib, outer jib, flying jib

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Bound for the Cape

After a very pleasant stay in La Reunion, a French Island east of Madagascar in this South Indian Ocean, the Picton Castle and her adventurous crew are back at sea. After days and days of sunny dry weather, we had a few days of rain and squalls while in port, these being the trailings of a long gone cyclone. The crew made many expeditions into the remote mountains and up to the volcano, then it was time for last minute shopping for coffee, baguettes, fruit and potatoes, and rushing about before setting off for the passage.

We made jaunts ashore to our favorite shore spots, even the simple trailer cafe a short walk from the ship called The Blue Marlin, so frequented by our gang that soon we were given local prices. The cold drinks, salads and sandwiches were as delightful there as anywhere, so why go futher? Tammy and Annie found all sorts of beautiful baskets and crafts for our chandlery ashore as well as for our ship’s boutique on this coming summer’s voyage to the Great Lakes where we are joining other tall ships in a Tall Ships Challenge tour from June through August.

But it was surely time to go. Pilot aboard, engine rumbling, Tammy steered the ship confidently out of the narrow basin into the next small basin to the fuel dock where we turned the ship around and backed into a corner to take on eight tons of diesel fuel. About 1100 the pilot returned to ship and off we were into a gray and hot lumpy sea with little wind. This morning we shut down the main engine and set all sail as the wind picked up. Winds look fair for the next few days as far as we can see into the future with our weather forcasting.

We sailed from Reunion yesterday and now we have a fresh wind on the port beam and some pretty large seas. Must be a storm way down south, far away to make these three to five-meter seas. We are bound for the Cape of Good Hope. This is a passage of about 2,000 miles. We sail about 600 miles from Reunion to pass under the southern tip of Madagascar. Then it’s about another 800 miles to the coast of South Africa in the vicinity of Durban. We close with the coast there to catch the Agulhas Current, the east African analogue to the Gulf Stream which passes by swiftly near the coast. Like the Gulf Stream which is the outlet for all that hot water piled up in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico from easterly Atlantic tradewinds and shoots it away from the low latitudes, so the Agulhas is the outlet for the hot Indian Ocean water piled up on Africa from an ocean full of easterly trade winds. All this water has to go somewhere. So it gathers and makes a strong current along the coast and heads south at 2-4 knots right along the wall of the continental shelf and the 100-fathom curve. Right nearby Durban I expect to hook onto this current for a boost in speed.

Some time tomorrow the Picton Castle will cross the Tropic of Capricorn at 23 degrees, 26 minutes South and pass out of the tropics for the first time since last May. We will not really notice this but weather will be increasingly prone to changing in ways we have not seen for a long time. Going around southern Africa we will sail as far south as maybe 36 degrees south latitude, much the equivalent of Cape Hatteras in the northern hemisphere. But the Cape of Good Hope stands out into what was once called in the age of sail the “Great Southern Ocean”, the bottom of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans all around Antarctica, an area that has no land blocking the winds all around the southern world thus providing an unhindered path for wind and storms. It could get rough. But then that is why we make every effort to sail around here in the summertime when storms are least frequent around the Cape. And why we prepare and put extra lashings everywhere.

From southern Madagascar to Durban is about 800 miles followed by another 800 miles around the corner to Cape Town, Tavern Of The Seas.   

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Day’s Run – 29 December, 2018

Last night the black Indian Ocean sky was radiantly littered with bright, twinkling stars and planets. When these nights arise, the night watches entertain themselves by learning new constellations. As we sail around this globe our night skies are constantly changing and new constellations are coming into our line of sight. It’ll be a sad day when we have to say goodbye to the Southern Cross which has been with us since before we crossed into the Southern Hemisphere nearly seven months ago.

The seas are small with 3-5 foot swell, the sun is hot and there’s a steady breeze blowing across the deck. Carpenter Carlos takes a break from wood working, as it is Saturday after all, which means greasing day! Carrying out a longstanding wind ship tradition for Saturday, he greases or oils all door hinges, freeing ports and the nooks and crannies on the windlass, keeping our ship well oiled and greased, keeps her running smoothly.

Today the residents of the forepeak, also known as the brocave, have been given the task of cleaning out the entirety of the compartment. Being full of boys one can imagine what it has devolved into over the last month or so, a task most parents of teenage boys can relate to as being much needed. Taking care of the space you live in is  important, especially in a ship where you’re co-habitating in a compartment with a close group of 4-8 persons, plus the other 30 or so on board the vessel.

In the rigging, Tyler spent the morning greasing the main topmast while James added a patch serving on the main shrouds by the lower topsail yard where the yard chafes against the shrouds. Liz chipped away on her personal project of completing her second ditty bag, cutting out a bottom to nail onto the canvas from maria wood she was given on Pitcairn Island. Six year old ship’s boy Dawson draws a scary lobster monster, inspired by the very small, loonie size (for those Canadian), Portuguese Man of War, a jellyfish like creature, that Nic unintentionally scooped up with the sea bucket while he was filling the sea sink! The sea creature was safely returned back to it’s natural habitat without harming any of our crew members or the jelly fish.

All in all it’s been a lovely Saturday morning on board. Astoundingly we’ve gone 140 nautical miles in the last 24 hours under stuns’ls still, topping out last night at 7 knots. The current is in our favour and in no time we will be sailing into the new year.

From: Bali, Indonesia

Towards: Rodrigues

Date: Saturday December 29th

Noon Position: 17°05.8’S x 079°37.4’E

Course + Speed: W 3/4 N + 6.1′

Wind direction + Force: SExS + 3

Swell Height + Direction: 1.5m + SExS

Weather: Hot, Sunny

Day’s Run: 146.1 nm

Passage Log: 2430.4 nm

Distance to Port: 934 nm

Voyage: 16201.2 nm

Sails Set: All sails including stuns’ls

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