The 55-metre-long, triple-masted barque arrived on Saturday, attracting a sizable crowd of onlookers to Avatiu Wharf, including both locals and tourists alike, some of whom were invited onboard for a quick look around.
Picton Castle is captained by Canada-based Daniel Moreland, who also has connections to fellow Cook Islands vessel the Tiare Taporo.
“We’re not here often enough, but it’s always good when we are,” Moreland said of what will be a week-long stay for the Picton Castle and her crew in Rarotonga.
Classed as a sail training vessel, the Picton Castle is currently four months into a planned 16-month round-the-world voyage that began in earnest from the American city of New Orleans in April and is set to continue until August of next year. It is the seventh world voyage for Picton Castle and the eighth for Captain Moreland.
Beginning from her ‘unofficial’ home port of Lunenberg in Nova Scotia, Canada, on this trip Picton Castle has so far sailed down the east coast of America, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean, stopping in at Galapagos, Pitcairn and French Polynesia along the way.
“We just came from Mangareva and Pitcairn Island, and then we’re headed off to Tonga,” said Moreland.
After Rarotonga the ship will also be making a stop at Palmerston before leaving the Cook Islands however, where they hope to put crew members ashore for a couple of “homestay” nights over the course of a few days spent on the island.
Captain Moreland says they also plan to run a medical clinic with the ship’s doctor during their time on Palmerston.
Picton Castle currently has a crew of 46, with six people signing off in Rarotonga and eight more signing on again. At any given time around three quarters of the crew are “sail trainees” who have signed up for practical maritime training which teaches them hands-on seamanship, situational awareness and how to interact with a maritime environment.
While it’s in Rarotonga, a number of schools, including Avarua School and Apii Nikao, will be visiting the Picton Castle, starting today and running through until Friday. Crew from the vessel will also pay a reciprocal visit to Avarua School on Friday.