Captain's Log

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Day’s Run – 18 November, 2018

Sunday at Sea, there is a calm feeling in the atmosphere. Despite the heat, crew members are enjoying their relaxing day after this morning’s up and stow; always a nice start to the day: to climb freshly out of bed and keep climbing up through the rigging, laying out onto the yard and busting up a sail. It resembles a morning workout, getting the heart pumping and blood moving. Once all square sails were securely stowed to their yards, crew enjoyed a delicious breakfast put out by today’s galley cooking team, Stephanie, Jack and James. Later in the day, the Danish Clipper opened for business, cleaning up our male shipmates’ mops and making them presentable for port. A self-respecting sailor works hard on the ship, has dirt under their fingernails, tar up and down their forearms and a shirt so stained it’s unrecognizable. But once in port cleans up, dresses appropriately and presents themselves to the charms of shore with class.

As it’s already mid-November and Bali will be our last port of call before the holiday, the Christmas Council met today to discuss the events. Christmas music, baking, secret Santa, chocolate egg hunt, and a Christmas brunch are all on the agenda for the celebration at sea! The ship has the Hippy Happy Divy Divy Christmas tree and ornaments collected over the years.

As this afternoon carries on, shipmates continue the final touches on their ditty bags, work on their rope mats, playing games in the salon and catching up on their reading. And six-year-old Dawson went on a ship-wide treasure hunt to find the long lost buried candy. Happy Sunday at Sea from the Indian Ocean!

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Sunday, November 18, 2018

Noon Position: 10°56.0′ S – 120°00.0′ E

Course + Speed: NW by N + 8.1 kts

Wind direction + Force: W’ly + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1-2m + SW’ly

Weather: Hot, sunny

Day’s Run: 187.9 nm

Passage Log: 3005.2 nm

Distance to Port: 315 nm

Voyage: 13379.6 nm

Sails Set: None, motoring


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Day’s Run – 17 November, 2018

In the Timor Sea: to our north is the Island of Timor, to our southeast is Australia about 250 miles away, and as we enter the Indian Ocean Bali is only 460 miles away now.

In some nice hot tropical hot weather but we hear it’s snowing and sleeting and hailing back in Lunenburg. Last evening our 10x 12′ cargo hatch hosted a  few sleeping bodies. All sleeping peacefully under the large collection of bright stars and the cool evening air blowing over them as they caught some shut-eye. Even the aloha deck bench was packed with three crew members sleeping heading to feet, as if they were having a sleepover at a friend’s house and passed out on the couch. It’s nice to sleep on deck in nice weather.

This morning, after ship’s cook Donald’s famous Grenadian meat donut breakfast, the Southern Belle rigging team of Abbey, Rhyanne and Annie, along with Dustin, sent down the starboard main upper topsail foot rope. Once it was on deck the women inspected its condition and went to work replacing old, worn out seizings and chafe gear.

The 8-12 watch is lead this week by Brittni, as she got a chance to experience what it’s like working as a lead seaman. As the saying goes “if you want to get the job done right, get a Picton Castle girl”. The 8-12 watch cleaned the semi dory and gave her a soapy scrub. The semi dory is our spare skiff, we will be launching both the skiff and dory once we arrive to be used for provisioning as well as coxswain practice.

Our sailmaking team continued work on the outer jib. The carpenters, sheltered from the sun’s violent rays, worked on the quarterdeck removing old caulking, with the added help from Dawson! The mid-day power shower is a delight, everyone is grateful to cool off after a busy morning.

This afternoon crew are keeping themselves busy by working on their personal projects; Mandy is finishing her home-made knife, Rhyanne is sanding down her ditty bag bottom and Anders has taken apart his accordion in hopes to repair it after an unfortunate incident where it was caught in the rain. The crew will take it easy now until Monday morning when we begin preparing to anchor in Bali!

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2018

Noon Position: 11°35.2′ S – 123°08′ E

Course + Speed: W 3/4 N + 8kts

Wind direction + Force: ESE + 1

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SW’ly

Weather: Hot

Day’s Run: 196.3 nm

Passage Log: 2811.9 nm

Distance to Port: 505 nm

Voyage: 13181.3 nm

Sails Set:  None, motoring

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Day’s Run – 16 November, 2018

This morning the crew awoke to a gorgeous bright orange sunrise on the port quarter, filling the sky above it with every colour in the rainbow. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration was a grand feast, as tradition would have it we overfilled our stomachs with turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries and to top it off chocolate ice cream and pumpkin pie! Delicious. Everyone was full to the brim when the call came “fish on!”

A few people sauntered aft to witness what was being reeled in, once it was known that a shark was on the line everyone came to have a look. When the shark was about 4 meters from the ship he let go, revealing the head of a tuna on our hook! The shark had eaten the entire body! Meanwhile, a second line was being hauled in, revealing it had a baby shark on the end of its bait! We hauled the little guy up, safely removed the hook and tossed him back into the sea.

This morning as groggy crew members sipped their morning coffee, slowly beginning to wake up, Colin of Nova Scotia was busy reeling in and sending out line, two bites on the rod but nothing hauled in yet this morning. After breakfast, our avid fisherman had an assistant, six-year-old Dawson, also of Nova Scotia, who was advising Colin which lure to use. The two made a great team choosing which bait to fasten on the line and casting them over the side.

As Dawson was busy awaiting a fish bite, the riggers, Abbey of North Carolina and Rhyanne of South Carolina, unbent the outer jib for it to be sent in and repaired. Once the jib was out of their hands and into the sailmakers’, the all-star women rigging team brought down the fish tackle, a large hook that is used to haul up the port side fisherman anchor, in order to redo the serving below the three-part block. Annie, of Ontario, added a serving to the fore upper topsail downhaul wire and replaced the port upper topsail inner buntline block.

With the outer jib spread out on the hatch under the protection of the awning, the sailmakers, John of Massachusetts, Clara of Denmark, and chief mate Erin of Bermuda, inspected the canvas sail and began the process of applying a few patches. It is an old sail but there is life in it yet.

The carpenters, Carlos of Ontario and Mandy of Colorado, have continued to take over the quarterdeck, reefing out old caulking around the deck planks, bumping down the old but good oakum and paying the seams with putty. Niko of Colorado, was given the splendid job of grinding the capstan that was taken apart at the beginning of this week, giving it a thorough rust bust/paint removal. The 8-12 watch osphoed the propane tanks, cleaning them and prepping them for the 12-4 watch to paint them. And Stephanie, of Victoria, gave the coffee station back aft on the Aloha deck its first coat of forest green paint.

Our hot, busy morning was saved by a noon power shower, cooling everyone off and giving us a break from the heat. As we motor sail towards Bali, the ocean water looks as calm as glass, crew members have spotted many jellyfish and sea snakes swimming past the ship, making the temptations of a swim call far less appealing.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Friday, November 16, 2018

Noon Position: 11°32.6′ S – 126°20.2′ E

Course + Speed: W by N + 7.2 kts

Wind direction + Force: Calm

Swell Height + Direction: 1m

Weather: hot hot

Day’s Run: 170.2 nm

Passage Log: 2614.4 nm

Distance to Port: 700 nm

Voyage: 12983.8 nm

Sails Set: inner jib, fore topmast staysail, main t’gallant staysail, main topmast staysail, mizzen topmast staysail

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Day’s Run – 15 November, 2018

Breezy morning on deck as the winds picked up on our beam. As crew munched down on this morning’s breakfast of porridge and eggs, grey skies rolled towards us. At 0830 the rain poured, nobody complained, it was a refreshing start to the day after an evening of hot, humid air. This sent every department into cleaning and inventory mode. The 8-12 watch slacked wet gear to ensure that the manila lines wouldn’t strain under tension. The riggers took a break from climbing aloft and dug down below the salon into the sole, organizing and taking inventory of the ship’s rigging supplies.

Once the rain cleared, the carpenters hauled out tools to be cleaned up, they have spent the afternoon sprucing them up on the hatch. Clara was able to add stitching to the new t’gallant. And six-year-old Dawson reeled in a fish! A “baby tuna” as he calls it.

One of the biggest jobs today is preparing for our Thanksgiving Feast tonight! Celebrating the American traditional meal of family gathering around the dining room table, in our case the salon, overstuffing themselves with turkey and pie and arguing over who snores the loudest. It’s fitting that we are celebrating a holiday that is traditionally spent with family, because whether we like it or not that’s what we are.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Thursday, November 14, 2018

Noon Position: 10°52.6′ S – 129°16.5′ E

Course + Speed: W + 8 kts

Wind direction + Force: ENE + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly

Weather: Sunny, hot

Day’s Run: 187.3 nm

Passage Log: 2442.4 nm

Distance to Port: 860 nm

Voyage: 12811.8 nm

Sails Set: Inner and outer jib

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Day’s Run – 14 November, 2018

Off Coburn Penninsula

Hot, hot, hot again today, we’ve been lucky that once the evening rolls around and the sun retires for the night, things cool off and crew are able to get a good night’s rest. As soon as breakfast rolls around the following day we are lathering on sunblock and awnings are rigged up in order to protect us from the sun’s violent rays.

Today we have almost every deck covered by a tarp or awning, it looks as though we have little fortresses all around our ship; the main deck awning, the bridge awning, helm awning, and the quarterdeck, aloha deck and foc’sl head all are blanketed with protection in order for crew members to work in the comforts of the shade.

Despite the heat, the crew continues to work, keeping the ship up. On the main mast, the tangs that hold the mizzen stay are being rust busted as well as the starboard fore shrouds. The foresail sheet sheave in the bulwarks was overhauled and reinstalled. The sheer pole on the starboard side of the mainmast was re-lashed in place.

The carpenters, Carlos of Ontario and Mandy of Colorado, work on installing a new plank in the quarterdeck and caulking it by hammering the oakum around the plank. This is the traditional method of caulking a ship’s deck. Sailmakers, John of Massachusetts and Clara of Denmark, are busy applying window patches to the royal, this sail dates back to the ship’s third world voyage! Brittni works away at completing the three-step pilot ladder while Corey scraped and primed the coffee station. Busy morning on board, what’s keeping us all going throughout the afternoon is the Captain’s idea of having a mid-day power shower! The fire hose will be rigged up on port side, work will be put on pause and everyone will enjoy a refreshing cool down.

From: Vanuatu

Towards: Bali

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Noon Position: 10°35.4′ S – 132°26.3′ E

Course + Speed: W 1/2 N + 4.9 kts

Wind direction + Force: ESE + 2

Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly

Weather: HOT

Day’s Run: 116.5 nm

Passage Log: 2,254.1 nm

Distance to Port: 1050 nm

Voyage: 12623.5 nm

Sails Set: lower topsails, upper topsails, t’gallants, fore topmast staysail

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Day’s Run – 12 November, 2018

It’s a beautiful sailing day onboard, heading west, almost dead downwind, braced square with all square sails set. Picton Castle looks like a majestic ship straight out of a film. Hmm, Picton Castle is a majestic ship!

Bacon for breakfast! It’s always a good start to the week when the sweet aromas of bacon waft through the ship as you climb out of your bunk. This week we have three new daymen working under our skilled crew. Joining the sailmaking department is, Clara of Denmark, who stitched away on the new spanker canvas on the main deck, while John and Kimba worked on the quarterdeck finishing off the new main topmast staysail. The carpenter this week, Mandy of Colorado, is learning her way around the carpenter shop, gaining knowledge on the ship’s various tools and helping Carlos fit the new planks on the quarterdeck. Lastly, helping rigger Abbey this week is Rhyanne of South Carolina. This morning Abbey showed Rhyanne the ins and outs of basic rigging, giving a tour of the tar locker, which is where the rigging tools and supplies are kept, and reviewing knots. After which the rigging team set themselves up to send down the starboard fore upper topsail foot rope. Once the temporary foot rope was rigged they gathered the foot rope, nipped it together in a circle and sent it down to the deck in a controlled manner.

While aloft the riggers spotted a large snake swimming along the starboard side of the ship! Rather exciting and amazing to see Mother Nature’s wildlife first hand. Once down on deck, the team rigged up the foot rope on the well deck by fastening it to the shrouds & ladders and hauling it tight in order to work on it. Abbey demonstrated how to serve the wire to Rhyanne as Dustin and Annie performed patch servings throughout. A foot rope is made up of 1/2″ wire, then wrapped in parceling and served, meaning to cover the parcelled wire in marline. This protects the wire which in turn increases its useful working life.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Monday, November 12, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31.1’S x 136°14/6’E
Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 3.3 kts
Wind direction + Force: E by N + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2m + E by N
Weather: Sunny, blue skies
Day’s Run: 79.3 nm
Passage Log: 2027.9 nm
Distance to Port: 1270 nm
Voyage: 12397.3 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner and outer jibs, main topmast stays’l, mizzen stays’l

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Day’s Run – 11 November, 2018

Sunday at Sea! There is always a sense of calm when waking to sunny, calm seas and winds on Sunday morning. Even though the ship’s routine is the same, same wake-up times and same meal times, Sundays have an air of peacefulness about them. With no projects being opened up, no sails laid out on the deck and no riggers gearing up to head aloft, crew members take time to catch up on their personal projects.

It was an active morning on the hatch, with the awning strung up and shipmates gathering underneath to seam or grommet their ditty bags, enjoy their book and chit-chat. Dawson had a series of clothespins snapped together and it was his snake. The well deck was filled with shipmates doing laundry and woodworking, crew members have been busy carving their own bowls, cups, spoons and stools!

Lead seaman Abbey got up this morning and performed her rig check. Every lead seaman has an area or two of the ship that they maintain. Each of the masts are distributed among the lead seamen as well as areas such as the tar locker, carpenter’s shop, paint locker, tween decks, and carpenter’s and paint stores. This ensures items are organized, supplies are stocked up and waste is kept to a minimum. This afternoon the Captain will hold a discussion on Bali, educating the crew on the ins & outs and dos & don’ts of the country. This will increase our excitement about our first port since leaving the South Pacific!

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31’2 S – 137°34.8′ E
Course + Speed: W b N 1/2 N + 3.4 kts
Wind direction + Force: ENE + 3-4
Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly
Weather: Sunny
Day’s Run: 81.5 nm
Passage Log: 82.2 nm
Distance to Port: 1350 nm
Voyage: 12317.5 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 9 November, 2018

At about 2300 last night we made it out of the Torres Strait, rocketing past the final sluice at 10 knots with a fair current.   We were lucky to have caught a steady current that helped pull us through, meaning we avoided having to anchor for the night. This morning as the hot sun shone down on us we were able to shut down the engine, set sails and head west enjoying the peaceful sounds of the waves breaking against the hull.

After breakfast, the rigging team (Abbey, John-Boy, Dustin and Annie) worked at sending the refurbished footrope aloft, reattaching it and breaking down the temporary rope. On deck, crew members started their day by washing their laundry and airing out their mattresses, while Anders gave his sea chest a paint job. The main deck awning was sent back up after being taken down for the evening and the helm awning was rigged to provide shade to the crew member on helm. The inside of the scuttle (the hatch leading down to the salon, on the starboard side where we keep safety gear such as life jackets and the deck pump) was cleaned and is receiving a coat of fresh paint. Lovely day of sailing and working onboard today; crew members’ excitement to reach Bali is gaining now that we have reached the halfway mark!

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Friday November 9, 2018
Noon Position: 10°34.5′ S – 140°34.3′ E
Course + Speed: W + 7.8 kts
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SE
Weather: Hot, sunny
Day’s Run: 182 nm
Passage Log: 187.8 nm
Distance to Port: 1530 nm
Voyage: 12138.9 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, main topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 8 November, 2018

This morning the sun shone through the light wispy clouds, adding pinks and yellows to the horizon. The 4-8 watch got out the scrapers and putty knives and started the workday early by scraping the excess putty that was left over from the installation of the new deck planks on the quarterdeck. Sailing along with all square sails and headsails set, the order came to fire up the main engine. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the old gal to be ready to engage. The call to take in and stow royals was called, crew members scurried to the halyards, gear, sheets and braces, and two crew members scampered up the foremast and mainmast to stow and gasket the sail. To take in the royal one must lower the halyard under control, after which crew members will cast off the sheets and haul on the gear in order to bring the sail up to its yard, somewhat like pulling on window blinds to bring them up.

Once the engine was engaged, we motor sailed through the Torres Strait, the channel running north of Australia and south of Papua New Guinea, the same channel Bligh of the Bounty either sailed or rowed his rescue boat crew through. As we plowed through the strait at 7 knots, the workday began with setting up the main deck awning to allow for more shade. The starboard fore bottle screws were given a healthy rust bust. The forward pin rails located on the foc’sl head received a coat of varnish, the turnbuckles were rust busted, primed and top coated. Our ladder leading to the monkey deck, the deck above the charthouse, was painted with its first layer of top coat. The riggers finished the main upper topsail foot rope chafe gear and overhauled it, ie tarred and oiled it. The fore royal halyard was served, to save climbers from its meathooks. “Meathooks” is a term used when a small piece of wire juts out from the rigging and can often cut people, never enough to do serious damage, only ever a small cut that results in the use of few frustrated words. Lastly, the plank on the quarterdeck was completed! A successful Thursday on the Picton Castle.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018
Noon Position: 09°38.1′ S – 143°19.4′ E
Course + Speed: SW 1/2 S + 5 kts
Wind direction + Force: SE + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 4m + E
Weather: hot, sunny, ozoneless
Day’s Run: 109.0 nm
Passage Log: 120.3 nm
Distance to Port: 1710 nm (to Bali)
Voyage: 11951.1 nm
Sails Set: Upper tops’ls, lower tops’ls, course, main topmast stays’l, outer jib

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Day’s Run – 7 November, 2018

This morning we awoke to lovely blue skies, white puffy clouds and crisp blue blue ocean as far as the eye can see. Although on the chart it appears that we are extremely close to land, in reality it’s still us and the sea at the moment. Last night we changed our clocks back an hour. Each night watch then stood an extra 20 minutes in order to even out the time load, then all hands waking up an hour later than they would from the previous ship’s time.

At 0800 daymen and the 8-12 watch turn to work. The 8-12 watch members polish up the ship, making the heads and living compartments clean and orderly, while the daymen get out their tools and supplies needed for the morning’s tasks. This morning the riggers, Abbey of North Carolina, and John-Boy, of New York, were instructed by the bosun who was instructed by the chief mate to replace the port fore upper topsail brace. With help from Annie, of Ontario, the three of them set up a temporary brace to hold the yard in place, sent down the block and pendant, overhauled the block and pendant, sent it back up and reeved the new line through the block aloft and the block on deck.

The most forward pin rail that houses the headsail downhauls received another coat of varnish. The bottle screws are finally ready for a coat of black paint, after their 5 coats of primer. In the sailmaking department, Erin and Liz are nearly finished seaming together the cloths for the new spanker while Kimba creates an eye splice for one end of the roping that will be sewn onto the new main topmast staysail.

Today at 12 noon the fishing reel screamed out as a fish had caught the lure, “fish on!”, but sadly as two crew members were reeling it in the fish let go. Then amazingly at around 1300 the reel screamed out again! “Fish on!” was called through the ship, Colin fought hard to keep the fish on, reeling it as the swells came. Rune relieved Colin, hauling the fish in together while Donald gaffed the yellowfin tuna to bring it up onto deck. It was a 44-pound fish, well worth the fight, he’ll no doubt feed the entire crew. It’s always a great day when we catch a fish!

As we head northwest we’re enjoying our last few hours of moving along by sail power. Tomorrow morning before breakfast we will take in, stow sails and motor in order to get through the Torres Strait, the passage between the very top of Australia and Papua New Guinea. We’ve been very lucky with the sailing we’ve had since departing Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu a week and a half ago.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Noon Position: 09°58.5’S x 144°52.1’E
Course + Speed: NW by N 1/2 N + 4.8 kts
Wind direction + Force: E by S + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + E
Weather: Sunny, hot
Day’s Run: 113.1 nm
Passage Log: 114.5 nm
Distance to Cape York: 76.5 nm
Voyage: 11830.8 nm
Sails Set: All headsails, all square sails

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