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Tall Ship Picton Castle Responds to Mayday Call


Tall Ship Picton Castle Responds to Mayday Call

AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS – It isn’t every day that a cruising yacht with engine trouble and damaged rigging is assisted by a 170-foot square rigger that looks like something from another era, but that’s just what happened when the 42’ sailing yacht Gobo issued a distress call in the early hours of July30.

Relayed by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), the call for assistance went out to all vessels within a 300-nautical mile radius. At 180 nautical miles away, the three-masted sail training ship Picton Castle was determined to be the closest vessel outside of a few fishing boats, and the only ship offering the yacht’s crew an alternative to abandoning their craft.

Sailing under the command of Capt. Michael Moreland, the Picton Castle was en route between Manihiki and Aitutaki when the call for assistance came in. The vessel – best known for her world circumnavigation voyages, of which she has made five – has been sailing in the Cooks Islands these past two months, providing much-needed shipping and passenger transport.

Capt. Moreland immediately ordered the vessel’s crew of trainee sailors, working under the tutelage of professional mariners, to take in all square sails and fire up the main engine. It would take 29 hours to reach the stricken yacht.

Arriving at daybreak August 31, the Picton Castle launched her rescue boat at 0730, dispatching the vessel’s Chief Mate and Chief Engineer to assess the situation and assist as necessary.

Chief mate Paul Bracken replaced a parted section of the shroud (which supports the mast) while chief engineer Alex Marts made repairs to the raw water pump and installed an electric auxiliary bilge pump.

With these repairs, no towing was required, and the yacht was able to carry on with their planned passage.

Picton Castle also resumed her passage to Aitutaki, where she arrived August 5. She will then sail to Rarotonga, then on Sydney, Australia for the International Fleet Review this October.


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