Barque Picton Castle collecting supplies for South Pacific outreach

Barque Picton Castle at Rikitea, Mangareva
She’s circled the world five times, introducing hundreds of people to the challenges and rewards of traditional sailing, and this summer the Barque Picton Castle is on the East Coast sailing with the Tall Ships fleet and preparing for her next voyage – to the islands of the South Pacific.

Sailing from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia this fall, the ship’s itinerary reads like an ultimate travel guide or the locations of Mark Burnett’s Survivor series – places like Panama, the Galapagos, Pitcairn Island (famed hideout of the HMS Bounty mutineers), ports throughout French Polynesian including Mangareva, Tahiti, Huahine and Bora Bora, a half dozen calls in the lovely Cook Islands, plus visits to Samoa and Tonga.

It’s hardly new territory for the 179-foot square rigger, which has crossed the Pacific five times as part of her famed, 30,000-mile circumnavigation voyages. But this eight-month voyage, which ends in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in May 2013, allows much more time for exploration.

'The reality on a world voyage is that we have a year or 14 months to get around the entire globe, so for every tropical island paradise we visit, we have to bypass another, or two, or three,' says Picton Castle’s captain, and founder of her award-winning sail training program, Daniel Moreland.

'On this voyage we are taking the time to see even more of this fascinating part of the world. We’ll sail to places where the ship has lots of history and reconnect with our old friends, but we’ll also be visiting new places and making new friends, all while taking full advantage of the finest trade wind ocean you could ever wish to explore under sail and learning and ways of a ship and the sea.'

Along the way, the Picton Castle and her crew will also be distributing donated books and educational materials, even medical supplies, to needy island communities. In fact, that’s part of the voyage preparation the ship will be doing as she sails the East Coast this summer and you can get involved.

'As we travel this summer, we will be accepting donations of children’s books and good used reference and text books, as well as general school supplies like paper, pencils, crayons and art supplies,' says Capt. Moreland, 'We’ll pack them in the hold, organize them when we get back to Lunenburg and then distribute them to schools as we sail around the Pacific.'

It’s outreach work the ship has been involved with since her conversion to a tall ship in the mid-1990s, says the skipper. And it’s a great way for organizations like schools and clubs, even individuals, to divest of unused books and materials in a way that truly helps others and doesn’t add to landfills.

The Picton Castle will also continue to deliver the same deeply-engaging sail training program that earned Capt. Moreland the 2011 Sail Trainer of the Year award from Sail Training International. The program focuses on seamanship skills and teaching trainee sailors to become crew members by involving them fully in the operation of the ship – standing watches, taking the helm, setting and taking in sail, assisting with ship's maintenance and helping in the galley.

Trainee berths for sailing legs of as little as two weeks are still available for this summer’s program. No previous sailing experience is required. Plus, applications are now being accepted for the South Pacific voyage.

The Picton Castle will be visiting Savannah, GA, May 3-7; New York City, May 15-19; Greenport, NY, May 24-28; Norfolk, VA, June 7-12; Newport, RI, July 6-9; Halifax, NS, July 19-23; Port Hawkesbury, NS, July 25-26 and Pictou, NS, July 28-29.

Barque Picton Castle website