Washing and Oiling the Decks

Last week we started our twice-weekly work parties here on the PICTON CASTLE. As you may have learned in earlier Captain’s Logs posted this Spring, the PICTON CASTLE has fared well enough over the long Nova Scotian winter, but winter at the dock does no ship any favours. So time to show the ship some love.

As our trainees and pro crew have not been able to arrive in Nova Scotia due to restrictions and border closings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we have been recruiting extra hands locally in Lunenburg. Shipmates, members of our local sailing community, friends living in the Lunenburg area, and all the PICTON CASTLE shore crew staff have been joining together to make the work possible on the ship.

This has been a particularly exciting opportunity for me as the newest member of the shore crew. Where I am usually posted in the office, this has given me a chance to learn more about the ship and do some hands-on work. I feel like I am getting to know the PICTON CASTLE a bit better each time we climb aboard to work on our next task. As I have never had the chance to sail on a tall ship before, I love being right in the middle of the action on board.

Our first task on Wednesday was to prep the decks to be oiled later in the week. This meant that the decks needed a good scrubbing to get all the winter grime and dirt up and off the ship. We each grabbed a deck brush and hosed down the wooden boards, revealing a very satisfyingly freshly clean deck after a half day’s work.

It was a beautiful yet very hot and sunny day, so to finish off the first day of work, we were all treated to the perfect snack – a delicious homemade ice cream by our favorite Lunenburg ice cream parlour, Sweet Treasures!

Saturday morning, we began our second day of work on the ship that week. Now that the decks had been scrubbed, we swept off the remaining loose debris, and got our paintbrushes and buckets prepped to begin oiling the decks.

Captain Moreland began the day with a lesson on how to properly care for the supplies, and how to take caution in using the linseed oil mixture. Although it is a natural product, it can make rags flammable if not disposed of properly. After the safety instructions, the team was shown how to oil the decks using paintbrushes and rollers. The trick was to make sure that enough oil was soaked into the dry deck planks. That way, all the bare wood is protected.

After splitting up into two teams (each one with a roller and someone responsible to use the paintbrush along the seams), we got to work! The results were almost immediate – as the oil soaked into the deck planks, they took on a beautiful rich color and shine. It was very satisfying to see the progress of our work in real time.

After the day’s work was done, we had completed oiling half of the 179 ft ship’s decks. We will finish the remaining sections of deck during the next work party on Saturday, July 4th on the Lunenburg waterfront.

If you would like to join us at these work parties, please email Maggie to RSVP at Thank you to everyone that has come by to help!