Atlantic Rollers

Atlantic Rollers

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ashore in Lunenburg NS

You can start from the beginning of my latest adventure here.

If you would like to start at the very beginning of my previous passage across the Atlantic Ocean back in 2008 please head over to here.

For information on how to join in the adventure and sail on The Picton Castle yourself check out her web page:

Thu Sept 1 2016

The BBQ was delicious, with charcoal cooked chicken, shrimp on skewers, ribs, salads and ice cold beer!

Went for a wander on the waterfront afterwards and then tried to watch the "races" but rapidly ran out of steam so came back to the BnB and crashed.

Woke up about 6:00am this morning really confused about where I was because:

A) The bed wasn't moving.
B) As far as I could reach I couldn't touch anything.
C) I could hear crickets chirping rather than water swishing against the hull.

Then I remembered I was in a beautiful BnB in Lunenburg having signed off the ship yesterday afternoon :-)

Had a lovely breakfast here at Greybeard's. The recomendations by my shipmates were bang on. Fruit animals, smoked salmon quiche, carrot cake, orange juice and lightly spiced coffee. Mmmmmm...

Bob and Rosanna do a fantastic job.

After breakfast I realized that tomorrow  (Fri) I would need to find someplace to stay so I jumped back on my little laptop, and the lovely and  fast wifi, and spent the next two hours trying to find a berth! The Labour Day long weekend is abad time to try to find accomodations in a high tourist area like Lunenburg.

It is now 10:00 am and I've got it settled. Whew :-)

I will be staying at the Kiwi Kaboodle hostel in Mahone Bay for Friday and Saturday night. Kiwi Kaboodle also runs a shuttle service that can get me back to the Airport in Halifax on Sunday which is a bonus!

My back and muscles are telling me that I probably should take it easy (aka 'be lazy') so I'm just going to go tour the Fishery Museum and drink cider in a pub somewhere.

Oh and mess around online of course.

I guess that means this is the final post of my latest trip on The Picton Castle.
I hope you have enjoyed following along on my passage.

Sailing on the Picton castle is a fantastic adventure, even when only for a few weeks.  There are very few times in one's life that working that hard physically can be as rewarding, that standing watch beside strangers can result in connections and friendships that last for years, and that learning a complex system of lines, processes and language, that so indelibly mark you as a seafarer, can mark a point in your life so clearly.

Eight years ago I headed out for my first adventure on this fine ship. Over the last two and a half weeks I've stepped back into a role I really thought was in the past for good.

Would I do it again?

I honestly don't know, and frankly it doesn't matter :-)

'Living in the now' is probably the biggest lesson I take from this short return to sea.

And in the spirit of that lesson I'm going to let tomorrow look after itself :-)

As always...

Thanks for reading.

And Watch below! :-)


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Scary steering, feeling accomplished.

Wed Aug 31

Our night watch last night was equal parts exciting, terrifying, and satisfying.

As we were motoring towards Rose Bay there was an amazing sunset. I hope the pictures turned out OK (haven't had a chance to look yet).

Once it got dark I started my trick on helm. Just as we started our approach to Rose Bay as luck would have it. I really had to work on my steering to keep the lights I was following in line. We weren't using a compass course just the shore beacons.  Then as we got close the Captain took the con and was giving me helm orders directly. I had never done that before. The orders are directions and turns of the wheel. They are all dependent on knowing where the midships position is. I had no clue when I started getting those orders! Luckily my watchmates were able to check the steering gear and tell me how many turns I had. Once I knew I was already two turns over I could count correctly.

Motoring into a dark bay is frankly terrifying,  that run in was probably one of the scariest things I've done this trip.

Once the anchor was down and the "Finished with the wheel" order was given, I just stood there. I got lots of compliments on the steering though so I guess it wasn't too wavy a route :-)

Since I was off the watch the previous night I had the first anchor watch which was a great way to calm down. The stars were fantastic and the sea was full of sparkling flashes that were almost as bright.

We had a wake up at 6:45 this morning and we were on the capstan hauling up the anchor by shortly after 7:00.  It took 360 push pulls on the capstan bars to get the anchor up. I decided to count to take my mind off the work

We sailed off the hook again without the engine running which was awesome.
As the Captain said "There is a special place in hell for Square Rig captains who don't sail when there is a good sailing breeze!"

We sailed back towards Lunenburg until we got abreast of battery point then we fired up the engine and started taking in the sails. The skiff was launched to help with the docking but its motor wouldn't start so they ended up paddling to the wharf while we docked using the engine, the dock lines and muscle power.

Once we were tied up we started taking all the sails off the yards and stowing them in the hold. I spent most of my time out on the head rig lashing up and disconnecting the head sails, then hauling them below to the hold.

Once that was done we had an all hands muster and we got our sea time documents and passports back, plus a nice Picton Castle shirt :-)

I'm going to pack up and then wander off to find my BnB, get settled and then come back for a BBQ at the Dory Shop. It will be nice to sleep in a bed that isn't moving :-)

The gerneral exodus has started, some of the crew are already gone, others are staying on for day or two. I might work tomorrow we'll see.

Later this afternoon will be a BBQ and drinks at the Dory Shop, then it is the Wed races in the harbour in which our Monomoy boat always participates if possble.

I think for sure I will do some tourist stuff before I leave on Sunday.

Managed to get a BnB billet for tonight and tomorrow night then I will have to find somewhere else to stay on Friday and Saturday.

I'm staying at Greybeard's BnB which was highly recommended by some of the crew. The breakfasts are very highly recommended too!

A long shower and clean clothes are first order of business then the BBQ.

Thanks for reading.

Here is a picture of the sunset from last night.

And a couple of the ship tied up at Lunenburg.

Taking her sails down is a bit like a bird molting her flight feathers.
She looks a bit sad without her glorious plummage. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last day's sail

Tues Aug 30

Just got off watch from a truly amazing morning!

Last night I enjoyed my night in by talking to Jayne on the phone (woo <3 ) and smoking my pipe on the welldeck while most of the crew played cards, strummed a guitar and laughed and joked in the salon beneath  my feet.  Two of my shipmates joined me Riley and Shane, they had pipes that they bought in France. During the crossing back it was suggested that nobody smoke cigaretttes only pipes to help with the ambiance for the filming :-)

We sat telling "no shit there I was" sailing stories in a lovely cloud of pipe smoke.

This morning we got an all hands wakeup at 6:00am just as the Sun was starting to rise into a totally clear blue sky.  There was a gentle breeze blowing from the North.

We got the remaining sails ready to set and then it was all hands to the capstan to rise the anchor. We had two shots of chain out (180') and hoisted one up, then the Captain ordered the lower topsails set and the yards braced around to make the ship hove to so that when we got the anchor up off the bottom we wouldn't move.

Once the anchor and it's sulphurous load of mud was hove up to the hawse pipe, we braced the yards around, set the jibs and spanker and started sailing.

The Sun was rising above the trees as we started to make way across the calm surface of the bay. It was silent, no engine or generator simply the soft swish of the ship passing across the small waves.

The Captain called us to the quarter deck and said "Leave evrything as it is and enjoy the next few minutes as we sail out of this remote cove into the Atlantic"

It was a marvelous thing to sail off the hook, handle the sails, and get our fine ship to sea with no smelly engine with its noise and vibration.

After we cleared the island that guards the entrance of the harbour we turned-to cleaning the ship to prepare for our arrival in Lunenburg tomorrow morning.

At around 10:00am we broke into watches and so my watch was on duty.

My trick at the helm was wonderful, we were sailing 'Full and By'. That is where we sail as close to the wind a we can, and my least favourite point of sailing from a steering perspective. I decided to use my new found skills and it was perfect!

The square sails are not set totally in line with each other, as you go up the mast each sail is set a little further off the apparent wind on deck. This is because as you go above the sea the wind actually shifts around a bit because there is less friction. So looking up the mast there is a slight spiral to the yards.  When sailing 'Full and By' you turn the ship into the wind until the highest sail just starts to luff, that is the windward edge starts to shake a bit. Then you fall off a tiny bit and bring her back to luff again.  This keeps the ship as close to the wind as possible.
The twist in the sails as you go higher on the mast.

Previously with my wild steering swings it was very scary point of sailing because I was always close to either getting the topmost sails aback, which is a really bad and potentially dangerous thing in a square rigger, or being too far off the wind. But with my new control it was easy to just keep the edge of the sail shaking. I was feeling pretty cocky by the time my trick was done :-)

After that it was scrubbbing and cleaning anything our AB could think of. Being a beautiful sunny day that was actually just fine..

Around 10:00 am we started the engine a, took in all the sail, and we are now motoring towards Rose Bay where we will anchor, probably in the middle of our watch tonight.  As we were mustering  Mark pointed out that this was likely our last full watch on deck, He thanked Shauna and I for being on the trip from Toronto. Erin our mate echoed the sentiments and then said the magic words "Watch Below".

Lunch was a bit subdued today, I think everybody feels the nearness of the end of the passage. For some that is 5 months from the time they left Lunenburg!  Always an interesting mix of "Yay I'm off this tub" and "I'm losing some close connections and routine". having only been on for two week that feeling isn't as strong for me but I feel it too.

More later.

We are still motoring South down the coast of Nova Scotia. We passed Halifax an hour ago. My off watch this afternoon was very pleasant, lot of sunshine a fairly calm seas.

We have had one Coatguard Fisheries vessel come out and tale alook at us, and we have been the search target for a local Sea KIng rescue chopper :-)

Lots of dolphins around here but they don't seem interested in playing in the bow wave like they do iin the tropics. Somebody suggested that because it is so cold in the water that they re too busy eating to play.

We had an "all hands to stow sail" call just before dinner. I went up to the foreyard with the Bosun and we stoowed the foresail. I felt like an idiot. I just can't get comfortable aloft now, I don't have confidence in the strength of my hands to hang on. I did OK I think but I felt slow and clumsy.  Might have to do more tomorrow once we arrive in Lunenburg as the plan is to take the rest of the sails off the yards and lower them to the deck while we are waiting to be cleared by customs.

We are still expecting to be coming into Rose Bay to anchor in the middle of our Watch so around 10:00pm.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"The colour of despair"

Monday Aug 29

Came on deck this morniing to a very bumpy sea. It had turned a dark Atlantic grey, or as Adam calls it: "The colour of despair" :-) The ship was motoring South West and rolling pretty heavily. No sign of Sea Sickness so I'll call this a win.

Our night watch last night was not as cold as I expected but we were definitely motoring directly into the wind. The stars were pretty bright while I was on helm so I was able to steer pretty well until a big cloud came up and blocked them.

Lookout was tricky as in addition to watching for ships we had to try to identify the bouys inshore of us against the lights of the shore. I messed up and missed at least one, sigh.

This morning we were motoring into the strong wind and eventually came into the small bay called Sheet Harbour and anchored, where we are at the moment.

My cleaning job this morning was the "Scuttle" which is at the top of the Salon steps and in which all the cleaning supplies are kept. Now it looks reasonably clean, which is good, if the cleaning locker is dirty... :-)

This afternoon we will be sending down the Royal yards and gear.  Looks like we will be anchored near Lunenburg tomorrow afternoon, likely Rose Bay, then we will motor/sail into Lunenberg mid day on Wednesday.

Some of the guys are talking about adjusting their flights ahead a couple of days.
I'm not going to worry about that till we are actually tied up in Lunenburg.

Time and Tide wait for no man as they say.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Eric from the 12-4 watch came up on deck and asked if I wanted a picture of myself on helm.
I said yes and he got these!


Just finished dinner, which was another excellent Niko repast!
Porkchops in balsamic vinegar reduction, broccoli, couscous, and watermelon for dessert. Tasty precious. :-)

Erin posted the anchor watch list and I seem to have escaped. Woot!
So I get the night off essentially.
The weather bouy outside Halifax is reporting 25 knot winds and 3 meter seas. In Sheet Harbour you can here the wind high up but the bay is pretty calm, pretty strong rain squalls sweep through every now and then. At the moment the sky is broken clouds and bright blue skies between as the sun is setting.


At our 5:00pm muster the Captain outlined the plan for the next couple of days. We are going to up anchor fairly early tomorrow morning then sail/motor off to Rose Bay which will take about 14 hours. There we will anchor again. Then depending on the weather we will head into Lunenburg aiming to be there around 10:00am on Wednesday.

After then everyone is to hang out to get the rest of the sails off her and the Monomoy back iin the water from the galley house roof. Then we are free to leave.

Not sure if I will move my flight up a day or two or not.

Will wait to make that call on Thursday morning :-)

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Motoring to Canso

Sunday Aug 28

Woke up to find that we had shed all our sails and were now motoring toward a rendezvous with a pilot to guide us through the control lock in the Canso canal.

Watch this morning was uneventful, did a trick on helm.  I used the now visible shore of Cape Breton to guide me like I used the stars last night. Worked a treat :-)

Along with the inevitable cleaning of the heads and showers, I got to clean the Captains Mess. This little room behind the scullery in the stern cabin is walled with varnished wall panels, on which are pictures from the ship's history. One is interesting,, it is a picture of a crew holding a life ring with Picton Castle on it, taken on the ship in the 30s. There is a boy in the picture, he presented the picture to the ship when he was in his 80s a few years ago.

The center of the room is filled with a beautifully varnished table with leather covered benches on each wall.

I first had to scrub the walls and ceiling with a gentle soap and water. Once that was done I used 'Murphy's Oil Soap' to clean and polish the varnished surfaces. This is a fantastic, and sweet smelling, concentrated soap that really makes those surfaces shine.

After that we stood by on the quarter deck watching pilot whales feeding along the tide line until "Watch Below".

There will be an all hands muster at 2:30 this afternoon to get ready to transit the canal.

I hear we will be starting to take down our sails as we continue towards Lunenberg to save time when we get there.  So that is a pretty good indication that our sailing is done for the time being :-(

Apparently we could be in Lunenburg as early as Tuesday!

My flight isn't till next Sunday so I'm thinking I'll be doing a lot of unloading of stuff from the ship :-)


We went through the lock at Canso at around 4:00pm.
I was stationed on the focle head with Ryan and the Chief mate to handle the bow line.
We steamed slowly into the lock then snugged ourselves tight to the side with the capstan once the bow line was secure. Then they opened the inner lock and moved the swing bridge so we could motor through.

There was quite a crowd at the lock to welcome home one of the crew, Riley Kennedy, they had signs and ballons and lots of cheers. He stood on the focsle head looking bemused and waving back. It was quite the welcome.

After we passed through teh lock there was another crowd waving and calling as we passed. I was flaking down the hawsersinto one of the boats  on the galley house roof and I could of sworn I heard someone call my name. I waved but couldn't tell who it was :-)

We are now motoring through the strait heading for the Atlantic.

This part of Cape Breton looks beautiful, I think we should try to get back sometime for a visit. :-)

Apparently the wind is supposed to be right on our nose once we get into the Atlantic so if that happens we will likely anchor somewhere on the coast on our way South rather than fight a head sea all the way.

There is no point in arriving at Lunenburg in the evening because customs only works "banker's hours" so we might end up anchored nearby for another night too, that happened on my previous trip when we anchored in Rose Bay.

Just finished a lovely dinner of great thick BBQ(baked) Ribs with squash. Very tasty.
The air is starting to get a definite bite to it as we get further from the strait. The cold Atlantic is making its presence known. Will need my warm woolies on watch tonight I'm thinking.

Thanks for reading