Not surprisingly, we have been getting questions on when we expect our Barque Picton Castle to set sail on this, our long anticipated, great adventure of a world circumnavigation. A good question it is. After months of preparation and anticipation we were well on track to sail right about now, mid-November, then we hit a snag.
As we could not drydock at Lunenburg Slipways, (only 400 yards away from our wharf, it has shut down operations for now) we steamed to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, about 80 miles away. The trip to Shelburne went fine as did the haul-out on October 25th at Shelburne Ship Repair. Smooth and professional. Followed by carrying out an equally high quality drydock work plan.
The ship was inspected, scrubbed and painted, had some minor welding repairs, all new zincs installed, all through hull fittings overhauled, draft and Plimsoll marks repainted, all was on schedule to set the ship back in the water with the bottom work done. The typical sequence would be to relaunch the ship, then once alongside back in the water, to retest systems and head back to Lunenburg for final rigging, sail bending, stowing, training and drills – and of course, casting off and setting sail, south bound for the tropics and tradewinds.
Then the shipyard suffered a mishap to the mechanism that hauls the cradle that carries the vessel up and down the marine railway. A couple days prior to the planned relaunch day for the Picton Castle, the winch suffered a mechanical failure. The upshot is that our ship is still on the lift, and will remain there, high and dry, as the winch system gets replaced. The shipyard is working hard getting this job sorted but it is still taking them time. This means that we will have to delay the sailing day for the voyage by some weeks. This naturally has had a significant impact on our plans and logistics. However, the ship is looking good and waiting to get launched. When the shipyard has all the parts, given that they are at the mercies of the current global supply issues, we expect that they can give us a more precise time frame for getting the ship back in the water.
In the meantime, the crew onboard is plugging away at various projects here and there to make time. There is always plenty to do.
Lunenburg is a year-round seaport. With a good weather window, a ship can sail almost any time of the year. The last time we sailed from Lunenburg on a long voyage we set out in February. Not a problem. With the Gulf Stream so close it is only a few days sailing to warmer weather from here. A couple nasty, cold days in the gray North Atlantic, then you start peeling off the layers. Amazing.
We are thinking about any possible route changes and expected island stops due to this delay. With recent loosening of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions at a number of island groups, as well as the opening up of French Polynesia to multiple points of entry, a good deal of time has opened up within our planned routing. So, while there will be some adjustments to dates and timing, we are not expecting any massive changes to the planned route through the South Pacific. It is all looking good still. Details to follow as we work things out.