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Iron barque refitted for merchant trade

Jan 1, 2003

The largest vessel in 50 years to become a commercial square-rigged sailing ship is scheduled to get underway from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in November. At 178 feet, the riveted-iron Picton Castle will be operated by a professional crew and expense-sharing passengers. The vessel will reportedly carry miscellaneous cargo in its 200-ton hold on its planned round-the-world journey.

Picton Castle was built in 1928 in Selby, England, and has since worked under many flags (and many names) as a freighter, minesweeper, and commercial fishing vessel.

Capt. Daniel Moreland, a master mariner with experience on many of the world's large sailing ships, found the nearly derelict barque in a Norwegian fjord in 1992 and decided to refit the boat for service. He brought the vessel to Lunenburg where, five years and $2 million later, the vessel was ready to sail again. A shake-down cruise in August proved Picton Castle was still fleet under sail, according to its enthusiastic crew. The vessel carries a Burmeister and Wain 690-hp diesel for auxiliary power.

The restoration involved stepping three masts crossed with nine yards, adding a clipper bow, laying new pine decks, and building an on-deck galley.

Operated by the Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company, Picton Castle will sail around the world trading commercial cargo and providing real-life, square-rig experiences for its crew. The vessel will also promote the use of alternative energy in association with Colorado's Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit environmental research and education foundation.

-contributed by Michael Simpson