Westward Bound

Underway from Suva

By Kate “Bob” Addison

August 6th, 2014

It’s just after lunch here in the South Pacific, our position 18°38’S, 178°45’E. This is the first full day at sea of this Westward Bound Voyage – the sixth time around the world for this fine barque, and the first time out of sight of land for some of her new trainee crew, including the ship’s two new kittens.

And it couldn’t be a nicer day. The fresh winds have been a steady force 4 to 5 from the SE since we left Suva: classic warm, reliable trade winds that buffet the sails making them gently quiver as it fills them and pulls us on our way. We’re sailing under a full press of canvas to the t’gallants, yards braced almost square as we run down wind to the west, bound for Vanuatu.

Amazing islands soon enough, but right now we’re just content to be here in the open ocean with the sun and the wind and the smooth decks rolling a little as our ship lifts and falls easily with the slight swell.

I was just interrupted by the shout of ‘Mr Church, a fish!’ and the sight of Erin standing at the break of the deck under the town pump washing our first catch of the voyage – a beautiful green and gold mahimahi. So that’s supper sorted, good job!

The 12-4 watch have the deck, and some of the gang are up here on Picton Castle‘s quarterdeck painting. Bruce and Rob are tidying up the vegetable lockers, while Charlotte and Chris cut in the green trim on the chart house. Dkembe, one of our two Bermudian apprentices, has the helm. He looks like he is finding it pretty easy. The kitties are sitting in the sun on the main deck, watching the fish being cleaned with extreme professional interest.

It’s just a gorgeous, tropical day, sailing along in the trade winds. The ocean is so blue it’s slightly purple, like a hint of indigo was washed through it, while the sky is a clear, pale blue with a handful of puffy white clouds. The forecast is for more of the same for at least a week or so – should take us all the way to Vanuatu.

Captain says the main problem with sailing passages like this one is the risk that crew get too used to it and stop realising how rare and wonderful this all is.

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One of the ship’s kittens in a coil of manila on deck