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Sixth time around for world-circling tall ship

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For anyone who has sailed with the Barque Picton Castle, or followed the award-winning tall ship’s adventures through television or the internet, the term ‘world voyage’ has a fairly specific meaning.

On five occasions over the past 15 years, this three-masted, 170-foot sailing ship has circumnavigated the globe – a voyage of more than 30,000 nautical miles, dozens of exotic ports of call and lasting between 12 and 18 months.

That is a world voyage. Indeed, the trainee sailors who sign aboard the Picton Castle to learn seamanship, self-reliance and a host of other marine and personal skills will often distinguish themselves by saying they sailed on the first World Voyage or World Voyage 2, 3, 4 or 5.

So when last November the Picton Castle departed Lunenburg, Nova Scotia – the jump off and return point for all five of her previous circumnavigations, and home to the ship’s Canadian offices – bound for a nearly two-year exploration of the South Pacific, there was no mention of the term ‘world voyage,’ even though it was always known the ship would return to Lunenburg.

“Blame it on our own near-sightedness,” says the skipper and founder of the Picton Castle‘s internationally-recognized sail training program, Dan Moreland. “We were fixated on our immediate destination, which was the islands of the South Pacific. And hey, that’s a pretty fantastic place to be heading as a sailor.”

Now as captain and crew approach the anniversary of the ship’s arrival in the Pacific, the Picton Castle organization has released details of the voyage that will see the ship return to Nova Scotia.

The aptly named Westward Bound voyage begins at Suva, Fiji on July 1, 2014 and will see the ship and crew sailing three oceans and at least four seas, covering more than 20,000 nautical miles. Along the way, they’ll visit ports both exotic and remote, including:

  • Vanuatu – where tribal culture still requires the captain to go ashore and ask permission of a village chief before anyone visits the island
  • Solomon Islands – where an afternoon snorkelling will uncover incredible marine life alongside relics from World War II
  • Bali – a favourite port on previous world voyages, Bali offers something for everyone: from peaceful temples and homestays overlooking verdant green rice patties, to bustling marketplaces and booming nightlife
  • the “M”s – Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique – each a completely unique destination: one you’ll love just for the joy of getting fresh veggies after a month-long sea passage across the Indian Ocean, another for wildlife you won’t find anywhere else on Earth, and the third as your first taste of continental Africa
  • Reunion – tucked in between port calls at Mauritius and Madagascar, this overseas French territory boasts an active volcano as well as French wine, cheese and baguettes
  • Cape Town, South Africa – known to sailors for hundreds of years as the “tavern of the seas,” it’s a swinging port town that also serves as gateway to a host of other African adventures, from wine tours to safaris
  • Luderitz, Namibia – a colourful seaside town, Luderitz is surrounded by sand dunes that seem to go on forever. Highlights include a visit to the former mining town of Kolmanskop, constantly buried in the shifting sand
  • St. Helena – best known as the mid-Atlantic island where Napolean was exiled, its rocky face affords just one fjord-like opening for a visiting ship
  • Dakar, Senegal – a hit with crew who sailed the Atlantic Voyage in 2008-09, no visit to this vibrant city would be complete without a trip to Goree Island to learn about the African slave trade at the House of Slaves and its Door of No Return museum
  • a host of Caribbean islands including Barbados, Grenada, Carriacou, Bequia, Les Isles des Saintes, Dominica, Martinique, Anguilla, St. Bart’s (in time for the West Indies Regatta) and the Virgin Islands. It’s here crew will truly realize how far they’ve come, not simply in terms of distance but in the skills they’ve acquired as seafarers
  • Savannah, Georgia, USA – a warm Southern welcome awaits the Picton Castle as she returns to North America just in time to join a fleet of international tall ships that will be spending the summer sailing the East Coast.

As always, trainees sailing with the Picton Castle participate fully in all aspects of shipboard life and duties; they’ll stand a watch, take the wheel, haul lines, handle sail, scrub the deck and peel potatoes when it’s their day to help out in the galley. They will learn under the instruction of the captain, mates and professional sailing staff, and largely by doing. Shipboard workshops will also take place on topics including navigation, rigging and sailmaking.

For those keen to join the ship soonest, there are still opportunities to join the Picton Castle at Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia in February 2014 and sail to the Tuamotus, Society Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji.

For more information, please visit the Picton Castle‘s website at www.picton-castle.com or contact the ship’s office at (902) 634-9984.

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