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Photo of the Month - exploring the Story behind the Image...

Sunny Sailing off Newfoundland

Sunny Sailing off Newfoundland

Year: 2009, Month: August

Canada > Newfoundland > Burgeo

This month's 'Photo of the Month' continues the theme of my time spent crewing a tallship: the 3-masted barque 'Picton Castle'. I'd joined her for 9 weeks during the summer of 2009, and during that time we sailed down to Gloucester and Boston, then back north to Halifax, and along the coast of Nova Scotia, calling in many small ports along the way. We crossed to Prince Edward Island, then to the Iles de la Madelaine, and finally to Newfoundland, where we had a welcome few days in Burgeo, riding out Hurricane 'Dan', before returning to the Picton Castle's home port of Lunenberg. It was a fascinating introduction into what really goes on aboard tall ships, and how they really work.

I had been interested in the big square riggers for many years, and even took up the hobby of putting sailing ships in bottles whilst working in the Antarctic. I had visited ships at various tall ship events in the UK and elsewhere, but never before had the opportunity of actually sailing aboard one. Realising that I had better make a move before I got too old, and hence not up to the hard work on board, I initially planned to sail with the 'Soren Larsen' in the South Pacific. However, when I finally got around to booking, she had changed her usual itinerary, cutting out Easter Island and Pitcairn, both of which I was interested in. My second choice was the Picton Castle, and luckily she had an interesting itinerary during the summer months.

This photograph in my 'Photo of the Month' series was taken whilst sailing off the coast of Newfoundland. It was a lovely sunny day with a stiff breeze - perfect sailing weather, and everyone was enjoying themselves. I decided to take my camera aloft, to get some shots of the ship as she was doing what she did the best. This one was taken from half way up the mizzen-mast, and shows a clear view of the white pine Quarter Deck. To the left, sitting on one of the fruit lockers, is Maggie Ostler, the ship's Purser. She is chatting to Tim Moreland, the captain's brother, who came along for the last leg back to Lunenburg. At the wheel is Jackie Yeoman, obviously enjoying herself, and keping a sharp eye on her course in the compass binacle, just in front of her.

Leaning back on the port fruit locker, but sitting on a sailmaker's bench, is Buddy Leask, the ship's sailmaker. He often works up on the quarter deck, as there is plenty of room up there. Only the watch on duty are there normally, so there is more space to spread out his canvas without people tripping over it. On wet days, he works in the saloon, which gets much more crowded. The saloon is home, rest and sleeping accomodation for many of the trainee crew, so space is always tight there. Chatting to Buddy and measuring out a length of sailmaking thread for use aloft is Maria Honig, from South Africa. She seems to spend her time hitch-hiking a ride on boats all around the world.

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