Passage to St Helena

Picton Castle is in flying fish seas AND we have crossed the Prime Meridian into the western hemisphere here in the South Atlantic Ocean in the best tradewind sailing there is. O’course, this idea of separate “hemispheres” of this big ocean covered blue ball we live on (and sail around) is a fiction our ancestors concocted for some reasons to do with making charts and celestial navigation, but anyway, we are now in the “West.”

April 10, 2024:

The day comes in mostly cloudy, with blue skies between the clouds. Rikki the cat keeps snagging flying fish on deck as they fling themselves aboard our white steel wandering barqe. Seas are down some from a few days ago. Six to ten feet now. It is certainly warmer. Water temperature is now 75F or 24C, same as the air temperature. We have been sailing through increasing squall activity at 250 miles SE of St Helena. Light, wind-stealing squalls, nothing scary. Wind makes up a bit, get some light rain. After the rain ends and the the fuzzy greyness of the squall slides off to leeward, we will wallow in light winds for awhile. Then, the wind fills back in from the same quarter. It should be noted that squalls can (and do) behave a good deal differently to this at times.

We are “tacking downwind” to get to St Helena. A square-rigger like Picton Castle can certainly sail directly down wind. However, the main mast would blanket the fore mast sails, losing a good amount of canvas horsepower. So sailing with winds on the quarter brings more breeze to more sails and we sail more swiftly, usually with less rolling too, and easier steering. Today, this afternoon, we will wear around, putting the wind on the starboard quarter from the port, and we should steer more directly for the northern tangent of St Helena. Then brace up sharp and sail around into the lee and anchor off Jamestown.

Bosun Line is keeping everyone pretty busy with various projects. “Knockaroost” is a steady diet in a steel ship. Going to start working on new sails soon on the quarterdeck. Hope to oil the decks at St Helena. Day ends in fine sailing and a Captain’s dinner in the messroom. In attendance were Clara, Eric, Julian, Dustin, Amelia and Violet. A pleasant time had by all.

April 11, 2024:

Day comes in with a partly cloudy sky and the ship making 5 to 6 knots. Generator comes on at 0600 as the sunrise shows itself. The 4-8 watch makes a tug on the braces and halyards to take up slack that creeps in ovenight. Donald is in his galley cooking up somethng for breakfast. Tea the cat is up on the quarterdeck visiting. She is quite bold. Rikki, not so much. If we keep up this speed, we should get to anchor about noon tomorrow. We shall see. Generator off at 1100 and the ship is quiet again with only the sounds of the seas alongside and sundry creaks and groans in the rigging aloft. And someone playing music in the scullery as they wash dishes.  

We have gotten a list of things that MAY NOT go ashore at Saint Helena. This in order to safeguard the island biosecurity. All makes good sense, and we certainly do not want be agents of infestation. These prohibited items include: no honey or bee products, no monkeys, parrots or any otther animals, no wood, bone, horn, no sunflower seeds from South Africa, no farm equipment, no dirty boots or shoes. Being barefoot most of the time I think we will be OK.

Noon: Royals set again making 5+ knots in Force 4 winds. Blue seas, no more than six feet high, and blue skies all around the ship as far as we can see. The quarterdeck is getting prepped for a good coating of magic oils once at anchor. Hope to do some sailmaking on deck at St Helena as well. And here is hoping there is not too much surge in the bay at the boat landing for the skiff. We might push for a few hours tonight to make sure we get to anchor roughly mid day tomorrow. Or maybe the winds will pick up.

DATELINE- CARGO HOLD – PICTON CASTLE:  Naturally we did a major provisioning in Cape Town, food for the rest of the voyage. We carefully ordered and had delivered quite a load. Good healthy stuff, too. So I am wondering why it seems that we have A LOT of Blue Cherios. LOTS…. Tis a mystery….

Winds making up here nicely at 1420, sailing along sweet.

At 1930, we have a starry night. A thick sliver of a moon ahead after many cloudy nights. And the Southern Cross on the port quarter. Temperatures are properly tropical now.


Landfall St Helena.

Scroll to Top