Picton Castle sailed from Panama almost a week ago. Bound for Galapagos we are. In many ways, this is a regular passage for us with the routine of watchstanding, workshops, meals and day-to-day life aboard. We changed the watches on leaving Panama, mixing the groups up so that everyone has a chance to be on watch with different people in different times. Crew are settling into their new watches well, getting to know and spend time with different shipmates and learning new routines and subtleties of each watch and how to accomplish that watch’s assigned tasks. Bosun WT and bosun’s mate Paula continue to assign ship’s maintenance projects, focusing this passage on holystoning the main deck and getting some rust busting, priming and painting done on the overhead of the aloha deck. Both of these projects are appropriate for this passage as they can be done even when it’s raining. We’re in the intertropical convergence zone, resulting in light winds, overcast skies and fairly frequent drizzle. We’ve been mostly motoring with intermittent periods of sailing when the wind cooperates. The Captain’s multi-part splicing workshop continues today with part 5 with a sailmakers eye-splice. Yesterday was the chain splice, with the long splice the day before. Prior to Panama, we had already done the eye splice and short splice. Each crew member has a practice rope where they’ve been doing their daily homework – a practice on their own of whatever splice was covered in the workshop that day.
In some ways, this passage is not regular for us. The ship seems to have developed a foul, noxious, malodorous stench due to the number of pollywogs aboard. A pollywog, for those who don’t know, is someone who has never sailed across the Equator before. To a shellback, someone who has sailed across the Equator, there are few things as undesireable as the smell of pollywogs. For the sake of our loyal shellbacks’ sensitive noses, I certainly hope that King Neptune and his royal court will come soon to take care of this embarassing faux pas. And the adverse winds? Can only be due to the presence of the dreaded pollywog. Messages have been arriving almost daily, in the form of emails, a canvas bag caught on one of our fishing lines and even notes scrawled on mirrors in all the heads, warning the pollywogs of the court’s impending arrival and of King Neptune’s penchant for cutting hair. We were visited by representatives of Neptune himself in the form of two booby birds – one on the jibboom and one on the quarterdeck. These mighty sea birds made themselves at home while they observed the behaviour of our putrid pollywogs. Also black fish or pilot whales and porpoise have been swimming by to take a gander and inspect it seems. The reports can’t be good… We’re currently less than 10 nautical miles from the Equator and we’ll have to cross before we reach Galapagos, so one way or another, the pollywog problem will be solved.