Voyage Around the World
Sail Around the World... A Global Circumnavigation Voyage in the Picton Castle
The sail training ship, Barque Picton Castle, is bound around the world!
You can sail as trainee crew on this incredible voyage. Sailing deep sea and learning the way of a ship is our life for just over a year. Sailing 30,000 nautical miles and putting into ports like Panama, Pitcairn Island, Tahiti, Fiji, Bali, Cape Town, St. Helena, Grenada and Bermuda, all while becoming an accomplished seafarer and learning seamanship skills hands-on through sailing a square-rigged ship is the ultimate voyage. You become one of the crew. No sailing experience is necessary as you will get plenty of experience on this voyage!
Our ship, the Picton Castle is best known for her deep water, ocean wandering, tradewind voyages to legendary ports of call in the tropics of this world. Our deep sea and tropical world is calling to us again, so we will set sail on this monumental voyage around the world starting in April 2023. You can sign on for the full year+ adventure – or for a leg of a few months’ duration. There is an application process we follow to put a great gang of shipmates together under the leadership of Captain Moreland, the mates and professional crew.
Set Sail From Canada's East Coast
Our voyage begins in the salty and historic seaport of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, once home to large fleets of fishing schooners and trading vessels. Here all hands join to prepare the ship (and themselves) for sea. There will be much to do but with sail bent, the ship stowed and crew with a good start on their training, we will set sail due south into the North Atlantic, across the Gulf Stream, bound directly for the tropics and the Panama Canal and onward into the Pacific Ocean. After a brief port call in Panama City, we’ll sail for the enchanting Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin’s epiphanies gained there. Yes, sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed booby birds and huge land tortoises call this place home.
The passage from the Galapagos Islands to Pitcairn Island is a long spell in the tradewinds. On this passage we get into the rhythms of life at sea under sail. The motion of the ship in deep-sea swells, the routine of watches, helping out in the galley. The morning routine of scrubbing the decks just after dawn, steering at the big teak wheel on the quarterdeck, forward lookout under a canopy of stars, or a slashing rain squall. For many this is a favourite part of the voyage. For all of us this time under sail will be a profoundly memorable time of our lives.
Deep Into the South Pacific
On we sail until the beautiful and legendary Pitcairn Island, deep in the South Pacific, rises from the haze of the horizon ahead. Home to the descendants of the mutineers from the Bounty and their island consorts since 1790, it was long abandoned by the original Polynesian settlers when rediscovered in 1767. Many Pitcairn Islanders are great friends of Picton Castle, we can expect half the gang to be taken ashore at a time in the island’s big long boats for overnight stays and exploration on this 1 x 2 mile island. There is too much to tell about Pitcairn so we will leave off here. Suffice to say that Captain Moreland’s 10-year old son cannot wait to get back for his third visit. He loves running around with the kids and there is his favourite school.
From Pitcairn we sail westward to the islands of French Polynesia. Today’s Tahiti is modern and bustling, with still so much to see and do. The venerable old 19th century town market is a short walk from the waterfront and is a must-see. Pubs and clubs, island and western music is most everywhere. Island dance performances and feasts are not to be missed, same for the botanical gardens and the excellent Gauguin museum. Matavai Bay, a short bus ride away, is where Captain James Cook and Captain William Bligh made anchor many times before Papeete was established as a port. The curving black sand beach and bay and the pounding surf look much the same as in the old days.
Leaving the charms of the high, mountainous Tahiti behind, we’ll sail for Huahine, a lush tropical treasure that’s off the beaten track. Huahine is known for its independent and “old school” island ways, which is exactly why we are headed there. Leaving French Polynesia in our wake we will sail for Tonga. This may be a couple of weeks at sea. And back into the groove of being sailing ship seafarers. With the tradewinds blowing over the quarter we sail ever westward.
Sailing Towards the Sunsets
The island kingdom of Tonga is next on our voyage. Tonga is the only South Pacific country never colonized by European powers. The anchorage at Vava’u is secure and beautiful, just steps from the local market where there is fresh produce being sold as well as handicrafts sold by talented artists. It’s possible we’ll see humpback whales off Tonga, at their birthing and mating grounds.
We sail ever onward, now bound for Fiji. Fiji is a big and diverse country. Here we’ll find a mix of tropical city, gorgeous nature and a wide range of cultures all cobbled together, and quite peacefully too; Fijian, East Indian, Melanesian, Polynesian and European all mix together to make a fascinating and exciting land and country. We’ll anchor off the city of Suva, using our ship’s small boat to go ashore at the local yacht club.
Then it’s about a week at sea sailing for Vanuatu. In Vanuatu we’ll visit a number of islands where old friends will welcome us. No electricity, small traditional villages, seeing a “kastom dans” (cultural dance) straight out of Jack London stories, lap-lap (a local delicacy), kava (a relaxing drink), trading goods for carvings and baskets, shade-tree medical clinics, delivering donated school supplies, welcoming friends and even former shipmates, paddling dugout outrigger canoes to the ship. The Second World War had a major impact on these islands leaving behind wrecked ships to dive on, crashed war planes here and there in the bush and old bomber and fighter strips to scout out. There is too much to say about the three or four islands we will put into. Vanuatu can feel like a step back in time in some ways. In others, just as modern as any of us.
Bound for the Far East
After sailing out of the South Pacific and a passage across the Coral Sea we make our way through the Torres Strait north of Australia and south of Papua New Guinea, through the Timor Sea, then we’ll make landfall at Serangan, Bali, Indonesia – here we dive headlong into the Far East.
Bali is both amazing and delightful. This island and its rich complex culture fill the senses to overflowing at times. Incredible pagoda temples, wooden fishing boats brightly painted, colourful festivals somewhere every day of the year, intricate dancing performances, traditional gamelan orchestras, spice markets, forbidding and ancient sacred volcanos, art and stone carvings everywhere. At night markets we’ll enjoy delicious foods, some quite unrecognizable, sleep in homestays next to serene rice paddies and fabulous markets full of everything you could imagine. Roadside stands with the best satay you will ever have. We will be sad to sail from Bail. But sail we must.
Deep Water Blue Ocean Passage
From Bali we head out across the broad Indian Ocean. This will be one of the longest deep water ocean passages of the voyage, thousands of miles of fair tradewinds and blue rolling ocean. Day after day of living life at sea, a barefoot seagoing life, standing watch, keeping the ship up, maybe making some sails, steering the ship by compass and wind from the big teak wheel on the quarterdeck. Keeping a forward lookout at night, counting the stars. A great passage to master celestial navigation with a sextant, for those inclined. There will be classes in sextant use and shooting the sun and stars for the seriously inclined.
Our plan is to make landfall at either the island of Rodrigues or the island of Mauritius after some four weeks at sea. Rodrigues is a small island that’s part of the country of Mauritius, a quiet charming island and a great place to relax ashore on your days off duty. Mauritius is the largest island in the country, bigger but still charming. Just a short sail away is the French island of Reunion, complete with shops selling fresh French baguettes, crème brulee and superb cheese (and the best coffee, says Captain Moreland). Reunion has remarkable mountain landscapes seen nowhere else, an active volcano, and an interesting colonial history.
But soon we will sail out of the tropics to round the bottom of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope on a true sailor’s right of passage. Our destination is Cape Town, South Africa, rightly known as the “Tavern of the Seas.” Cape Town is also our gateway to all of southern Africa.
At The Foot of Table Mountain
From Cape Town we can explore South Africa’s Western Cape, including Table Mountain, excellent wineries, the southernmost tip of Africa, safaris and Robben Island (the prison island where President Nelson Mandela spent many years under lock and key during the struggle to end apartheid, now a national park with both former guards and inmates serving as guides). We will be able to visit townships and township schools with groups of students, hopefully bringing them some badly needed school supplies from the ship’s hold.
We will spend as long as we can at Cape Town. Eventually it will be time to set sail again, this time for St. Helena, the British island right in the middle of the South Atlantic where Napoleon was exiled. A fascinating outpost of the old British Empire. We can sail in and sail out of the anchorage at St. Helena.
The South Atlantic tradewinds are the steadiest of the world, some of the best sailing we know will be on this passage. We will also cross the Equator back into the northern hemisphere along the tropical sailing ship route on the way to the eastern Caribbean isles we love so much.
The Real West Indies
The South Atlantic tradewinds blow steadily, pushing us up towards the Equator, then across it and into the Caribbean Sea. We’ll visit a number of Eastern Caribbean islands, sailing between each, and getting to know each for its own unique characteristics beyond what the usual tourist sees. Picton Castle is known in these islands and our crew are welcomed. The Captain cannot say enough about how great these islands are. Here is where he started to learn his seafaring trade skills such as shipwright skills, spar making, rigging and sail making. But it’s also redolent with calypso music, sugar and spice plantations, reggae music and great welcoming people. The Picton Castle crew will see a Caribbean not available to so many other visitors. Island boat building, dance, steel drum bands, small boat sailing in the Grenadines, turtle sanctuaries. The sooner we get there, the longer we stay.
When it’s time to sail north we’ll be bound for Bermuda, and then to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, returning to where we started just over a year and a half ago.
Planned Ports and Route
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada to Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia – April 15, 2023 to August 25, 2023
- Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Panama Canal
- Panama City, Panama
- Taboga, Panama
- San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands
- Pitcairn Island
- Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia to Bali, Indonesia – August 26, 2023 to December 10, 2023
- Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
- Huahine, French Polynesia
- Vava’u, Tonga
- Suva, Fiji
- Malekula, Vanuatu
- Maewo, Vanuatu
- Pentecost, Vanuatu
- Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
- Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia to Cape Town, South Africa – December 10, 2023 to February 21, 2024
- Bali, Indonesia
- Maurtius (island of Mauritius or island of Rodrigues)
- Reunion, France
- Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada – February 22, 2024 to July 13, 2024
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Luderitz, Namibia
- St. Helena
- A variety of Caribbean islands, including:
- British Virgin Islands
- Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
**Itinerary is subject to change for any reason at any time. Particularly with changing travel restrictions and advisories due to COVID-19, flexibility on the part of and each individual crew member will be required, even more so than usual.
Can I Sail As a Trainee?
This voyage is open to people of all nationalities and genders, ages 18 and up. No sailing experience is required. You will be part of the working crew of the ship, so prepare to roll up your sleeves and dive in cheerfully!
Trainees choose to sail with us for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re looking for a gap year expedition, either after high school or during or after college or university. Maybe you want to do something unique for your big overseas experience. Perhaps you’re looking to develop seamanship skills to help start a career as a seafarer. Maybe you are already working in a maritime career and want to gain deep-water sea time and square rig experience. Or this is the right time to take a break from your job and life ashore to make the voyage in the tradewinds you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe you’re retired and want to travel and learn and immerse yourself in a South Seas adventure. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a unique way to travel to exotic, iconic places, a foundation from which to launch a maritime career or an authentic square rig sailing experience on a vessel similar to one in the Great Age of Sail, there is a place for you on board. Sailing aboard Picton Castle is truly a life changing opportunity and the dream of a lifetime.
Whatever your reason, we want to be clear that signing aboard as a trainee crew member is a big commitment. On this voyage there will be long stretches where signing off is simply not possible. We encourage anyone who is interested and curious to contact us to discuss the voyage and whether it might be a good fit for you.
There is an application process that starts when you click Apply Now below and fill in the online application form. From there, we’ll request a note from your doctor that says you’re in good health and can do moderately strenuous physical activity on a remote, oceangoing voyage. We’ll also request payment of a deposit which will hold your spot.
On previous voyages we have required applicants to come visit the ship in person for an in-person interview. On this voyage, we’ll save you the time and expense of a trip to Lunenburg and arrange an interview with you by online video conference instead. It’s still important for you to see Picton Castle, including what the accommodations are like, how we eat meals, what the bathroom/shower situation is, what you’ll be doing when you stand a watch, and so on, so we’ll recommend some videos for you to watch that give you the full tour.
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, or all 4 legs! (See planned route above).
What Does the Voyage Cost?
Prices for the voyage, in US dollars (USD), are as follows.