Sailing NW Up the South Atlantic Ocean in our Barque

We have crossed the Tropic of Capricorn in the Picton Castle and are now officially back in the tropics. Soon should be seeing flying fish. Still quite cool but warming up. We are sailing NW from southern Africa bound for the conveniently located (middle of the ocean) and and interesting island of St Helena and then onwards towards the Caribbean. It seems quite a few other BIG ships are doing much the same thing. Although I expect these ships will not be putting in to St Helena as we are. But this is still the track for many ships coming from the Cape of Good Hope and bound for Europe, USA, Canada, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean these days with the Red Sea in a mess for shipping. Just got passed by a 1,000 foot long Maersk container ship making 19 knots. Behaved a bit oddly. Passed us at speed then went hard right and stopped for an hour before resuming course and speed. On her way to Port Said says the AIS. This ship must get around the big hump of west Africa first, hence on a parallel course to Picton Castle. And why we have so much traffic these days on this passage.

Here at dawn the day comes in overcast, warming with nice steady Force 5 SE breezes, giving the ship 6 knots under topgallants, royals furled to their yards.

Another 1,000 foot ship is coming up astern making 11.5 knots, the Cape Globe. This ship has adjusted course to pass us with 3 miles of sea room on our starboard side. Seas are modest and we are sailing along nicely. Donald is in his galley making his popular cinnamon buns. New hands Bruce, Benita and Eric are becoming good helmsmen. Curtis who signed off in Bali has returned full of vim and vigour. Clara just replaced the main royal braces yesterday. Today more navigation classes and an outline of sailmaking methods and procedures followed by making new ditty bags with our new shipmates.

The next day at dawn. April 7, 2024:

Skies remain overcast. Winds remain steady at force 5+ from the SE. Sea building as an expected consequence. “How does she ride” one may ask. “Why, she shames the gulls, she does.” A 12 to 15 foot swell roles up from aft, lifting the beautful counter stern and rolls along underneath the ship lowering the stern and lifting the bow, jibboom marking an arch in the grey sky above the horizon. She is steering fine though, even the new shipmates are steering well. We can expect good helming from those who have over 20,000 miles in this ship over the last year. A few spokes or a wheel port and starboard and she lays her course.

Still seeingmany ships on our ocean highway. We have one coming up astern just now, the HMM Garam. 1,200 feet long and 167 feet in beam, draft is 48 feet. That is a big ship. And two more. Looks like a supership drag race on our chart plotter screen. The 1,200 foot Cosco Kilimanjaro, bound for GBFXT, which I guess means Great Britain, Felixstowe. And Al Khatam, a mere 800 feet long, bound towards Rotterdam for Orders, the AIS states.

Sunday at sea. Galley gang is looking after meals so Mr. Church can get a day off. And as Dawson says, “it’s popcorn day!” And an introduction to St Helena.

We are sailing along strong in our 300-ton Barque Picton Castle.

April 8, 2024:

0800. We just wore ship around to port tack. Winds still fresh enough. Seas laying down some. Sun trying to break through. Good sailing along. Prepping and varnishing quarterdeck mahogony chests. Sail repair ongoing.

April 9, 2024:

At AM change of the watch loosed and set royals. At midday winds dropped a good deal, and in a light rain squall. St Helena 340 miles away to our WNW. Rain squalls an irritation those varnishing and working on sails. At 1206 the Picton Castle crossed the Prime Meridian into the western hemisphere. By late afternoon, winds back in fresh form and we are bowling along with a sky breaking with blue. A dark blue rolling sea, plenty white caps. We had  little bird aboard two days ago. Rikki the cat has been feasting a couple flying fish every day. Lucky cat. New hatch cover all seamed up, ready for final cutting, tabling and then painting. Off the shipping track now.

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