South Pacific Voyage 2012-2013

Our First Port of Call: Carriacou, West Indies

By Kate “Bob” Addison

Two weeks and two days out from Lunenburg and Picton Castle is sailing quietly and majestically to her anchorage off the beautiful island of Carriacou in the West Indies.

We have logged some two thousand miles through the North Atlantic Ocean to get here, and it’s good to have land in sight again, about to drop our anchor for the first port visit of this eight month voyage. Our position is 12Deg29’N 061Deg27’W, some 200nm SW of Barbados. The breeze from the east is warm, seas and skies are blue, and there’s a happy buzz aboard. Idle hands lean expectantly over the rail, watching the land get larger and more distinct – red-roofed houses appear and the lush green carpet covering the gentle mountains becomes a canopy of trees. Donald, returning once again to his home islands has the biggest smile on his face – everyone who walks past him catches the grin and passes it on.

This is a true, exotic spice island. Captain says it’s really too sweet a place for our first port and we’ll all be spoiled for the rest of the trip. Sounds to me like it might be worth being spoiled for – feels like we’ve earned a swim and something cool to drink after two weeks at sea. The white stripe of beach looks incredibly inviting, gently lapped by the blue water. Just up ahead of us there’s a sweet Carriacou sloop sailing out towards us – at the helm is a friend of the ship come out to welcome us in. There are a few yachts sailing close by too – they look like seeing a square rigger under full sail has made their two week yachting vacation, never mind their day. Lots of cameras pointed at us, if anyone reading this took nice pictures we’d love to have them emailed to us!

There’s a nice breeze running, and the Captain is calling orders from the bridge – coordinating the helm, the sails, the gang up forward preparing the big port anchor, the leadline forward taking soundings. Under his orders the mates call out instructions and the crew haul smartly on the braces bringing the huge spread of cotton canvas round sharp on a port tack so we round Gun Point at the north of the island and follow the coast round to the west. We come to Hillsborough Bay, which will be our anchorage for the next three days, and the ship becomes a flurry of coordinated activity as we strike sails, set the spanker, drop the hook, brace around, and strike the spanker again. Not bad going for this gang, sailing onto the hook for the first time. Anchor holding well on the sandy bottom? Good, then it’s time to “up and stow”! Captain took a few of us ashore to clear in with immigration and customs, and it was a fine sight on the skiff run ashore to look back at the crew all aloft stowing sails. And they got to cool off after with a swim call – was fun to watch people diving and splashing off the side as we waited for the boat to come and pick us up again.

And then, all cleared in, we lowered the yellow ‘Q’ flag and the two off-watches were stood down and given the ok to go ashore. They went off pretty quickly too in a couple of boat runs, all in holiday mood and looking suprisingly clean in straw hats and shore clothes. The 4-8 have the watch and they’re setting up scaffolding over the side to clean and paint the topsides, while dancing to reggae from a West Indian radio station playing from the bridge. Even work days are awesome when you’re in the Caribbean!