Editor’s note: Apologies for not keeping you fully up to date in the Captain’s Log. We’ve wrapped up the South Pacific Voyage and are just beginning the Aloha Polynesia Voyage which will see Picton Castle sailing entirely within the Cook Islands, offering our award-winning sail training program while we deliver cargo and passengers between the islands. It’s been a busy time with crew and trainees departing and arriving, and lots going on in Rarotonga. The Aloha Polynesia Voyage is off to a good start, and ship’s purser Kate “Bob” Addison will keep you up to date on all the happenings of this exciting voyage. But first, a log to wrap up the South Pacific Voyage…
19th May 2013
By Kate “Bob” Addison
It’s another glorious day in Rarotonga with a light ESE breeze carrying Picton Castle quietly back towards her berth in Avatiu Harbour. The island ahead of us is glowing in the afternoon sunshine, the folded peaks of the mountain ranges a rich, complex green and the fringe of beach coral-white.
We are heading home to the harbour after a very agreeable daysail, a situation most unusual for our barque. Normally when we cast off our dock lines and climb aloft to loose the sails, hoist the skiff and set sail it’s because we are setting out to sea for a week or maybe a month, making on of the long ocean passages for which Picton Castle is renowned. But this time we’re not actually going anywhere, just out for a sail. It’s a very relaxing experience for our guests aboard – cool drinks, fresh fruit platters, and the only lines they were obliged to haul on were the boat falls – with just 13 crew aboard (and one of them 9 months old), we simply couldn’t hoist the skiff without the help of our passengers. But they laid in with a will, and I think they enjoyed helping out a little.
Day sailing does let you see things in a different light. It shows off the skills of our crew who have nearly all now been sailing this ship for a solid eight months, and that really shows. At the start of a training voyage you just couldn’t leave the dock and set sails and then turn around and come back again with such a small crew. It relies on every single person knowing their job and doing it quickly, competently and with no fuss. And it’s so great to watch how much our gang have progressed since we left chilly Lunenburg last October. Captain has described this sail as the final exam of the voyage, and all aboard have passed with flying colours.
On Friday night this South Pacific Voyage officially ended and we hosted an awards ceremony and dinner aboard to mark the occasion. We were delighted to welcome Dkembe and Niko’s families aboard to join us, all the way from Bermuda and Colorado respectively. Donald cooked up a feast which was served in the salon with dinner music and fancy ice cream for dessert. After dinner the Sea Service certificates were awarded to all hands together with South Pacific fishooks, the Polynesian symbol of the navigator and proudly worn by Picton Castle crew, it’s a symbol that once you have become crew you never really stop being crew. There were kind words from the Captain for each of his crew, and a few tears and lots of laughter as he adroitly captured the personality of each person.
The next part of the event was held on the main deck in the relative cool of a tropical evening. There were all sorts of silly awards presented, each one suggested by the crew for one of their shipmates, and accompanied by music and photos. Lots of fun, and also good to step back and look at the voyage, celebrate our accomplishments and appreciate the slightly oddball salty family that we have become. The awards all given and the tearful acceptance speeches all made there was nothing left to do but for the Captain to call for the Mate, and with a “Mr Mate, that will do the watches!” the voyage was done.