Around the World By Way of Cape Horn

Around the World by way of Cape Horn...
A world circumnavigation aboard the
Picton Castle

Around the World By way of Cape Horn Map

“When are you going to make a Cape Horn voyage in that tough as nails barque of yours?”

For years, the Barque Picton Castle has been sailing on wonderful westward-bound, tradewind voyages around our watery world, eight world circumnavigations in all, mostly in the tropics. This ship has also sailed on great voyages to Europe, West Africa, Australia and New Zealand, all across the South Pacific, the coast of New England, Gulf of Mexico, Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland, and the sweet Eastern Caribbean islands, even into the Great Lakes! Almost 400,000 nautical miles under square sail. On these voyages we learn the ship, learn the “way of a ship,” look after the ship, even make her stronger every year. And we learn to look after each other as shipmates. It is quite something. There is no app for what this ship has been doing year in, year out for so long.

In all this time we have also been giving thought to the idea of an “old school” square-rigger world voyage, like the ones the classic steel cargo-carrying windjammers of the latter days of the Age of Sail made. East around the world by way of the capes and westerly winds. These voyages, in fact, are what inspired this very ship and her blue water voyaging. We are frequently asked: “When are you going to make a Cape Horn voyage in that tough as nails barque of yours?”

We have been encouraged to make this voyage for years. But to launch an expedition like this needs much more than encouragement as one can well imagine. This is a serious sailor’s blue-water voyage driven by strong winds in deep-sea higher latitudes. And long ocean passages. A stout ship matched with a stout crew.

Making a Great Adventure Our Own

In the Age of Sail, many of the passages of our upcoming voyage were very much the norm, just common wind-ship passages, sailing along well-known ocean trade routes for sailing ships without engines, routes where the wind is the fuel for driving the ship along. For us today, we also get to put in to remarkable, fascinating ports that were once household names back in the day. The Picton Castle will call at these once well-known places such as Port Lincoln, Cape Town, Hobart and Stanley that rolled off the tongue in conversation in that era, as easily as New York, Paris or Tokyo do today. Shipping and great passage making made the newspaper headlines back then, and profitable trade alone determined the destinations. In every case, it was with fair winds that took the ships wherever they sailed. Now the once common routes and ports have drifted into obscurity and sailing ship passages no longer dominate the news. What has remained the same, however, is the lasting allure of the romance and challenges of the Age of Sail that reverberates to this very day. The voyage we embark upon will capture this, and then some.

While we sail along with yards squared away, lines coiled down and winds astern on old blue-water trade routes, following the wind ships’ trackless passages on the endless ocean, we will make these passages our own. In true Picton Castle style we will carry supplies to communities where they’re needed like Pitcairn Island. We will be carrying “cargo” in our 100-ton cargo hold amidships. And calling at stunning tropical islands along the way. How could we not? And of course, teaching and learning the arts of a deep-sea sailor.

under sail with stuns'ls ON THE WAY TO BALI 132
IMG_20190316_115921544 (2019_05_15 12_33_58 UTC)

The Picton Castle is Once Again Bound Around the World!

Curious? Casting off in late 2024, the Barque Picton Castle will set sail on a year-and-a-half long voyage, making her way eastwards around our ocean world much of it in the higher latitudes. Ours will be a voyage by way of the Cape of Good Hope and famed Cape Horn. The ship’s company, hauling braces, setting, taking and furling sail, and steering every inch of these 40,000 miles, will be made up of hearty seagoing adventurers under qualified leadership, ready for the challenge of a real seafarer’s deep-sea, square-rigged sailing ship voyage. And with some amazing ports of call steeped in sailing ship history along the way.

You can apply to be part of this epic voyage. Picton Castle sails with a combination of professional and trainee crew members. The leadership crew are qualified, credentialled mariners trained in some of the world’s great square-riggers, who have significant experience at sea and are ready to literally teach you the ropes. Trainee crew are folks like you – curious, adventurous, inspired by a challenge, fit, ages 18 and up, from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds, wanting to go to sea as well and see the world from the unique perspective that only being crew on a voyage can offer – and ready for the challenge. We delight in our multi-national crews. Makes the voyage better too.

We will skip the ocean highway bypass called the Panama Canal and sail under Tierra del Fuego, South America. See some different parts of the world, all the more intriguing and real because you didn’t simply step off an airplane but earned your way there in a square-rigged ship that you and your shipmates sailed there by your own effort, sailing every mile yourselves. Fascinating ports of call, some of which are rarely visited by sailing ships these days. Sail around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn east bound with the prevailing winds. These are great ocean passages.

This is a voyage like none other. Sailing in the wake of the last generation of great sailing ships in our own steel three-master.

From Nova Scotia Sailing for the Cape Verde Islands and Cape Town

From Nova Scotia we’ll set sail across the North Atlantic for the islands of the Republic of Cape Verde off the coast of Senegal, West Africa. A wonderful independent nation with strong sailing ship ties to New England. Most latter-day whale ships were manned by Cape Verdeans. We are looking into possibly taking some cargo in our hold to these fascinating islands where the famous Brava Packets traded with New Bedford, Massachusetts not so long ago. Even now their national currency boasts the images of these brave brigantines, barkentines and schooners.

From Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Cape Verde, we will sail south and cross the Equator and sail towards the coast of Brazil, swing south and east, passing close to incredibly isolated but inhabited Tristan da Cunha deep in the South Atlantic. If weather permits, we’ll make a short stop at this very remote island, a British Overseas Territory.

From Tristan, it’s on to Cape Town, South Africa, the Tavern of the Seas, one of the great sailing ship ports of all time, for a good long visit in Africa. It is still great for the deepwater sailor! This will also be a working yard period at the excellent shipyard right on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront in the heart of Cape Town. Dry-docking, rigging and sailmaking will be on the agenda. But so will getting out to see this amazing country and land. There is so much to see and do in Southern Africa and we will have the time to do so: wine country, learning about townships, the end of apartheid, Robben Island and the lasting legacy of Nelson Mandela, wild game parks, great (amazing!) eating and culture, and so much more. We will take donated schoolbooks and supplies to needy schools in the Western Cape. And welcome school children to visit the ship, who have never seen a ship before.

From Cape Town, we’ll head south and round the first of two fabled ocean capes, the Cape of Good Hope. We’ll ride the westerlies before swinging north again to put in at the stunning French island of Reunion near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. After a good visit in the mountains, river gorges, beaches and cafes of Reunion, the ship sets sail again on the long sea road to South Australia running her easting down. This was the grain ship passage made famous in Eric Newby’s book The Last Grain Race.


“We’re Bound For South Australia” As That Song of the Sea Goes

South Australia was the famed destination for some of the last steel wind ships sailing commercially, of the Gustaf Erikson Line of the Aaland Islands in Finland, and others from Germany and Sweden, They sailed thousands of miles in ballast for the grain ports of South Australia, as the sea shanty would have it. There they were loaded with thousands of tons of sacked grain for European markets. As Nova Scotians well remember the famed Schooner Bluenose, so too do the folks of South Australia remember the magnificent square-rigged steel Finnish grain ships like the 4-masted Barks Moshulu, Parma, Pommern, Passat, Herzogin Cecilie, Lawhill and others, all grander versions of our Picton Castle, that made these ports, including Port Victoria and Port Lincoln in the Spencer Gulf, come alive. These remain important grain ports today. Perhaps we will load some grain into our hold in remembrance?

Port Lincoln, Wikimedia, Creative Commons
Port Lincoln, Wikimedia, Creative Commons
Sunset, Billy Lights Point, Port Lincoln South Australia, Jaqui Barker, Creative Commons
Sunset, Billy Lights Point, Port Lincoln South Australia, Jaqui Barker, Creative Commons
Curta Rocks Port Lincoln National Park, Jaqui Barker, Creative Commons
Curta Rocks Port Lincoln National Park, Jaqui Barker, Creative Commons

From South Australia to Tasmania

Home to the wonderful Brigantine Windeward Bound, Hobart gets few sailing ship visits these days, but Tasmania is a fiercely independent island. Hobart, Tasmania is just a cool place that has not lost its charm in the onslaught of time. A major whaling and trading port of old, Hobart today boasts a vibrant waterfront and many cultural attractions. The remains of Joseph Conrad’s ship Otago can still be seen, at low tide, in one of Hobart’s estuary bays, today aptly named after the famed writer’s ship, Otago Bay. Got to check it out. Then on to Auckland, New Zealand where we’ll load a full cargo hold of supplies for our friends on Pitcairn Island. With only four supply ship visits a year there will be plenty to take to them. We’ll take a jaunt to the beautiful Bay of Islands and Russell, the old seafaring capital of New Zealand. Just across the bay are Pahia and Waitangi, site of the famous treaty establishing the founding documents of New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa, meaning “land of the long white cloud” from the days of Māori discovery some 1,000 years ago and more.

Cradle Mountain view from the Overland Track, Andrew Goddard, Creative Commons
Cradle Mountain view from the Overland Track, Andrew Goddard, Creative Commons
Just Another Hobart View, Wikimedia, Creative Commons
Just Another Hobart View, Wikimedia, Creative Commons
Brigantine Windeward Bound in front of Hobart seashore and Mt Wellington, Synyan, Creative Commons
Brigantine Windeward Bound in front of Hobart seashore and Mt Wellington, Synyan, Creative Commons
View of Hobart from Mt Wellington, Wikimedia, Creative Commons
View of Hobart from Mt Wellington, Wikimedia, Creative Commons

From Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Pitcairn Island and Islands of Polynesia

From New Zealand the ship will sail east-south-east, to almost 40 degrees south for the long, 3,000-mile passage to Pitcairn Island. As the weather permits, we will discharge our cargo hold of supplies at Pitcairn and all hands in turn will take the mighty Pitcairn longboats into Bounty Bay for a welcoming visit ashore.

From Pitcairn Island we will double back and catch the southeast trade-winds again, and sail west to explore some balmy tropical islands in Polynesia putting into such wonderful spots as we may, including Mangareva, Raivavae and Papeete, Tahiti, in French Polynesia, while making final preparations to the ship and rigging in these warm balmy islands and sunlit lagoons before heading Picton Castle south and east for the latitude of Cape Horn.


Bound ‘Round Cape Horn and Onward

Sailing around Cape Horn is no light, casual undertaking. Any ship must be prepared for some heavy weather when planning a Cape Horn passage. Hull and gear must be 100%. All fittings must be stout and strong, crew must be well trained. But this is an east bound passage with winds astern – as they should be.

We will not just be sailing in the wake of the great big windjammers but also of smaller brave vessels like our own. Quite famously the little 200-ton square-rigged ship Joseph Conrad made a winter rounding of the Horn in living memory and had quite a ride but no problems. The Picton Castle will pass this infamous landmark in high summer before turning northeast back in the Atlantic and make for the Falkland Islands. There is where wrecks of west bound ships which did not make it around Cape Horn, the much, much harder way, against the winds, ended their days. Some ships remain there to this day even after a century for us to explore. If possible, we will make for Grytviken, South Georgia, an uninhabited and former whaling and sealing station, before heading northeast for the warm South Atlantic trade-winds and on to St Helena Island, best known for being Napolean Bonaparte’s last empire in exile.

From St Helena it’s all downhill in warm sailing breezes. The Picton Castle crosses the Equator again and sails onwards in the best tradewinds in the world to the enchanted islands of the Eastern Caribbean possibly including Grenada, Tobago Keys, Bequia, Martinique, Anguilla, Jost Van Dyke. From there we’ll make for Virginia in the USA, where the Picton Castle will join the world’s fleet of Tall Ships visiting the USA for that nation’s 250th birthday celebrations. Here the voyage will wrap up except for those who wish to carry on and be part of this Tall Ship extravaganza.

Cape Horn, W. Bulach, Creative Commons
Cape Horn, W. Bulach, Creative Commons

What can you learn on such a trip?

The list is long. Where to begin? Seamanship, steering a tall ship, small boat handling, sailmaking, rigging, celestial navigation, carpentry, ropework, Rules of the Road, caulking, diesel mechanics, the ports we visit, your shipmates, yourself. If we could put all that you learn on such a voyage in a book, we would but we can’t. But learn, you will.

The voyage will be organized around legs so crew can join and/or sign off the ship at major ports. Major port stays will be longer in order to make sure all hands can get a good look around and so we can be sure to meet travel dates of folks coming and going.

Introducing Captain Dirk Lorenzen

In command of the Barque Picton Castle will be Captain Dirk Lorenzen.

Captain Lorenzen has dedicated most of his adult life to learning and teaching the craft of traditional sailing ships. He has sailed as officer in some the finest ships at sea today including the Norwegian Full-Rigged Ship Sorlandet and Australian Bark Endeavour. Most significantly Captain Lorenzen has an exceptional amount of square-rig sailing in high latitude conditions, so much a part of this upcoming voyage. With ten years in Picton Castle as Mate under Captain Daniel Moreland, and as Master on his own, he is a rigger, sailmaker, engineer, small boat handler, caulker, shipwright and teacher. Originally from Hamburg, Germany, Captain Lorenzen calls Tasmania, Australia home these days, and Picton Castle’s home base in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada sees a lot of him too. Captain Moreland states that he could not have higher confidence in Captain Lorenzen’s abilities and is proud to turn the ship over to his leadership and care.

Planned Ports and Route

Leg 1

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada to Cape Town, South Africa

October 7, 2024 to March 3, 2025

  • Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
  • Tristan da Cunha (weather and conditions permitting)
  • Cape Town, South Africa

Leg 2

Cape Town, South Africa to Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

March 4, 2025 to July 6, 2025

  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Reunion
  • Port Lincoln, South Australia, Australia
  • Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Leg 3

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand

July 7, 2025 to August 28, 2025

  • Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Leg 4

Auckland, New Zealand to Tahiti, French Polynesia

August 29, 2025 to November 23, 2025

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Pitcairn Island
  • Mangareva, French Polynesia
  • Raivavae, French Polynesia
  • Tahiti, French Polynesia

Leg 5

Tahiti, French Polynesia to Stanley, Falkland Islands

November 24, 2025 to January 26, 2026

  • Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Cape Horn
  • Stanley, Falkland Islands

Leg 6

Stanley, Falkland Islands to Virginia, USA

January 27, 2026 to June 11, 2026

  • Stanley, Falkland Islands
  • Helena
  • Grenada, West Indies
  • Carriacou
  • Tobago Keys
  • Bequia
  • Martinique
  • Anguilla
  • Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
  • Virginia, USA

**Itinerary is subject to change for any reason at any time. 

Who Can Sail?

This is a voyage for adventurous souls. People ages 18 and up of all genders and all nationalities are welcome to apply to join the ship as trainee crew members. Trainees participate in all aspects of sailing the ship: you’ll stand watches, take your turn at the wheel and as lookout, you’ll handle lines and sails, scrub decks, help the cook in the galley, assist with ship’s maintenance, and learn authentic seamanship skills as was the time-honoured way of the wind ships in the Age of Sail, and still is in Picton Castle.

Everyone aboard must be in good health and adequately physically fit. A medical screening is part of the application process.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, to travel the world, to travel sustainably by wind power, to learn new skills, to challenge yourself personally, to learn teamwork skills, to be part of a close-knit community aboard, to do something amazing with your gap year or big overseas adventure, to check an item off your bucket list, to lay a foundation for a career at sea, to accomplish the dream of a lifetime, or simply to experience the portion of our planet covered by water, you’re welcome to apply.

To apply to be a trainee, click here!
Celestial Nav - Square Image

How Long Can I Sign On For?

Depending on the amount of time and money you have available, there are a number of options for signing on. We always say that longer is better, but recognize that not everyone can make a year+ voyage. 

Sailing for as long as you can afford, both financially and time-wise, is the best option. Join us for any combination of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or all 6 legs! (See planned route above).

What Does the Voyage Cost?

Trainee fees, in US dollars, are as follows:

Full voyage: $72,800


Leg 1: $24,000

Leg 2: $20,000

Leg 3: $8,500

Leg 4: $14,000

Leg 5: $10,500

Leg 6: $22,500

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