Ship’s Logs

Date: 06/13/2006
Location: 41° 15.4’N / 64° 24.1’W
Topic: Change of Plans!
Author: Erin
Tonight we saw one of the most spectacular sunsets we’ve seen in a while—and we have a virtually un-obscured view of sunrise and sunset every day. The sun dipped below the low clouds and it was the brightest pink shade of orange I have ever seen. We all lined the rails waiting to watch it sink below the surface in hopes that we would finally glimpse the ever elusive Green Flash. No flash tonight, but we came pretty close to searing the backs of our retinas right into our brains. Although the sun sank more than thirty minutes ago, the sky along the horizon is still brightly coloured in layers like in a rainbow. Gold, pink, purple and finally blue extending as far as the eye can see on the Western horizon. I’ve never seen sunsets like this from ashore, and I’ve lived on the Atlantic coast my entire life. Sailors do not have a luxurious life, but they are rich beyond their wildest dreams while at sea.

This morning our Watch was busy on deck stowing square s’ls and setting all fore and aft sails. Some of our crew have been feeling under the weather and it can be exhausting on a good day to haul on 9 halyards, sheets and tacks in rapid succession. Today we were a bit shorthanded, and of the Watch on deck, there were only three of us not under the weather; so after hoisting 6 of the 9 sails, I did not feel awesome anymore either.

My rapid heart rate and panting for air was quickly forgotten, however, when I heard a thunderous roaring approaching the ship from over the starboard quarter, moving rapidly along our starboard beam. It was a Canadian Sea King helicopter (shipmate, Paulina, recognized it, saying it is the same as the one her husband used to fly)! The ship that Ivan had spotted on Forward Lookout (a mere lump on the horizon) turned out to be a Canadian Naval Ship, the Preserver (possibly a supply ship). The skipper of the Preserver is a friend of Captain Moreland’s, so when they spotted us about 20 nm away with their super-duper eye-spy technology, the Preserver’s Captain sent his helicopter crew out to see if it was indeed the Picton Castle, homeward bound to Nova Scotia.

Our crew clambered on deck to see what the racket was, and while some fled to grab their cameras, others stared stunned or waved at the helicopter crew. We had an Australian Coast Guard copter fly by when we passed through the Torres Straights, but it never got as close as these guys did! My eyes focused in on the maple leaf ensign on the side of the helicopter and the distance between our ship and the copter closed to a few hundred meters, for a brief moment I thought it was our friends from the Canadian war frigate, the Winnipeg, whom we had met in Suva, Fiji. A few moments later I learned the ship’s name and that its skipper had hailed our Captain on the radio. He just wanted to say hi! That’s pretty cool!

Immediately after supper (and Logan’s chocolate birthday cake) this evening Captain Moreland called an all-hands muster amidships. He stood with the sun at his back at the Port rail and addressed the lot of us who had scurried out of our hiding places to hear what he had to say. Captain has been watching Tropical Storm Alberto closely and has been monitoring meteorologists’ predictions about its movements in the upcoming hours and days. This evening he had received enough information that he was satisfied we must arrive in Nova Scotia, the sooner the better, but he said we would not have enough time to reach Lunenburg before the storm hits us. So, as of 6:30 this evening the Picton Castle is now bound for Shelburne, Nova Scotia, and we can expect to arrive there as early as tomorrow afternoon!

We’ve had this picture in our heads of approaching the familiar shores of Nova Scotia on the 16th and of waiting at anchor full of anticipation for finally setting foot ashore on the dock in Lunenburg. What we learned this evening is that we will anchor in Shelburne tomorrow night and let the storm blow over before continuing on as planned for Saturday afternoon’s arrival at Lunenburg. Not only will we anchor in Shelburne, but there is the distinct possibility that Customs Canada could board us tomorrow and clear the ship in once and for all, and that would mean that our crew will be free to go ashore. Go ashore in Nova Scotia before the 17th and not in Lunenburg? Somehow over the past few months I had taken our tentative plan for arrival and etched it in stone in my brain. What the Captain was telling us was not in my scope for how I thought the voyage would end.

I will not complain about being safe at anchor in an old Nova Scotian seafaring town while Tropical Storm Alberto does his best to blow a “holy hooly” for a few days. But I’m not sure that I will go ashore in Shelburne. I want this to end for me the same way the last three voyages ended. Seafaring is a lot of things, but it based heavily on tradition and I don’t want to mess with that. Chief Mate, Danie, swears he will not leave the ship until the dock at Lunenburg and Lead Seaman and former Bluenose II crew, Amanda, says she will not set one foot ashore until Lunenburg. I could not probe more than the shaking of heads when I inquired about their reasons. I wonder if they are not too far off from my own.

There are crew, however, that have their fingers crossed that Customs will board tomorrow and that we will be successfully cleared in. Ivan, for one, is dying to get in front of a television screen to see the hockey playoffs. I believe that the game scores have been emailed to the ship since we left Bermuda. Mike H worked a long Galley Day today and he told me he would happily go ashore in search of his favourite maritime beer. Some crew have family travelling about the province now and they wonder how to get a hold of them. The crew’s wish-list is seemingly endless, and these were all things we were prepared to wait four more days for. Now it will be within our grasp as early as tomorrow!

The Captain still plans on arriving at Lunenburg as per the original plan on Saturday , June 17 at 1400, conditions permitting. In the meantime the assistant Bosuns have the crew working hard while the weather is good and the days are long. Amanda is in charge of getting different surfaces painted and Rebecca has been working aloft repairing ratlines and seeing that they get tarred. Ollie and Maggie worked on the Port Fore shrouds today completing wire seizings. A ship must look her best when she returns to her home port after a long voyage! She looks pretty good now; we’re just putting the finishing touches on her.

So there we have it: the Picton Castle is bound for Shelburne, Nova Scotia! 48 hours a head of schedule and preparing for a storm. This throws me for a loop. I guess we’ll be seeing you when we see you!