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Picton Castle

Picton Castle - Sail Round the World 

Barque Picton Castle is famous for her circumnavigation voyages around the world. Her home port is Lunenberg, Nova Scotia but this 148ft tall ship is registered in the Cook Islands and retains strong links with the Pacific island communities there.  Whilst in the Cook Islands and Polynesia, Picton Castle and her trainee crew often carry vital cargoes between island groups. Picton Castle typically offers long voyage legs of several months giving you time to immerse yourself in square rig sailing, become a valuable part of a self sufficent ship and connect with remote communities around the world.

If you just want a taste of the ship without giving up your day job, then Picton Castle sailing schedule between world circumnavigations often offers 1-2 week voyages. For career sailors, the captain runs a well respected shorebased 'Bosun School'  whilst the ship is refitting in her Canadian home port.

Picton Castle - All voyage descriptions, dates and prices

Picton Castle approaching Pitcairn island in the Pacific

What Picton Castle Does Best

The ship is rigged very authentically and her longer voyages are an excellent apprenticeship for anyone who wants to live the life of a 19th century sailor or launch their career on traditional sailing vessels.  Ships crews make and repair their own sails, build ships boats whilst at sea, help in the galley and learn to maintain almost everything themselves. Capstans are used, ships boats are rowed ashore, decks are holystoned and a wealth of skills can be learned. She carries 12 450 sq ft of sail including stun'sails. The ships boats have sails and oars so you can develop small boat skills too

Captain Dan Moreland has commanded the ship for all the Round the World voyages and is famous in the sail training world. If you get a chance to sail with him we think you should. Captain Dan personally interviews every sailor applying for the longer trips so he can 'look you in the eye' and discover if you are right for the ship - and you can do the same to him. In 2016 Sail Training International and Tall Ships America presented Captain Moreland with the STI Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an individual who has dedicated his or her life's work to getting people to sea under sail and who has worked to preserve the traditions and skills of sail training. Creating a happy crew for such long voyages is an art form, and we think that the group photos give you a sense of camariderie that can only come from a shared experience where everyone mucks in.

Read Captain and Professional crew profiles

Sailing holidays on Picton Castle


Where does Picton Castle Sail? 

Picton Castle divides her time between her epic circumnavigations around the world and shorter trade wind circuits in the Caribbean or Atlantic.  This summer she is taking part in the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Race Series around Bermuda, USA and Canada, so you can join her for coastal voyages as short as 5 days. 

With a base in Lunenberg, Canada and a close relationship with her other home port in the Cook Islands, Picton Castle is the best ship to sail on if you want to explore the South Pacific, and her Round the World routes reflect her preference for tropical islands and remote communities.  

Picton Castle in the South Pacific

Announcing the 7th Round The World Voyage

"The longest uninterrupted adventure you can sign up for anywhere"

In March 2018 she sets off on her 7th Around the World Voyage. If you fancy the whole trip - it is 18 months long and probably the longest uninterrupted adventure you can sign up for anywhere. There are four individual legs between March 2018 and May 2019 and the shortest leg is 88 days so it is quite a committment.  We can help you decide if it is really for you, and there are plenty of stories and images from the previous world voyages to give you a flavour of this proven ocean voyager.

The route heads South from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean, transits the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. Slap bang on the equator are the Galapagos islands and after a bit of time with the giant turtles you are off to Pitcairn Island and beyond to French Polynesia. Leg 2 from Tahiti spends 3 months exploring classic South Sea Islands and carrying essential supplies and island passengers between the Cook Islands, and wandering accross the Pacific through the Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji. Leg 3 starts in Fiji and takes the ship to Vanuatu and Bali in Indonesia.  Stocking up with fresh fruit and supplies, the ships crew prepare for the next mighty ocean: Crossing the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and Cape Town.  Start 2019 on 1st January in Cape Town, heading for Namibia, St Helena, and a Trans Atlantic and Equator Crossing to the Caribbean once more.  

These voyage legs range from 3.5 months to 6 months, so the prices can look a bit scarey. See our perspective on the prices and a comparision with similar long adventures. For example the whole Round the World experience at over 546 days  is £1500 cheaper on Picton Castle than the next Clipper Adventures Around the World Race 2017-18 - which only involves 248 days sailing and very few stops.

Picton Castle 7th Circumnavigation - World Voyage legs, dates and prices

World Voyage - Picton Castle anchored in the Caribbean

Rendez Vous 2017 - Tall Ships Races in Canada

If the world voyage is beyond your reach in terms of time or money then you can sail Picton Castle on the Eastern Seaboard of USA and Canada. There is a good mix of voyage lengths from 5 days to 15 days and open to all ages and no experience is needed.  If you are thinking about a longer voyage, these might be a good taster, before the World Voyage starts in October 2017. There are big tall ship festivals in Boston and Quebec City as Canada celbrates the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation.  the worlds tall ships are gathering, and the whole summer is a mix of tall ships races off the coast and cruises in company around Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. The grand finale is up the St Lawrence River to Quebec.

Picton Castle Rendez-Vous 2017 - Voyage descriptions, dates and pricesEuropa, Tecla and Picton Castle in Australia, credit-rick-rycroft

Europa, Tecla and Picton Castle off the entrance to Sydney Harbour by Rick Rycroft

Style of Sailing - Life on Board

Picton Castle's crew complement is made up of 52 people, which includes 12 experienced, qualified, certified professional mariners and 40 sail trainees. With the instruction and guidance of the professional crew, trainees are an integral part of sailing the ship.

Always dreamed of standing at a ship's wheel steering under a cloud of white canvas sails? This is your chance. You will also haul on lines, handle sails, scrub the decks, take your turn on forward lookout, paint the entire ship from top to bottom, peel carrots for the cook in the galley, observe and log the weather, plot our position on charts, tie knots, splice rope, brace the yards and whatever else it takes to keep the ship sailing.

No sailing experience is needed to become a trainee. You will learn the skills you need and how it all works through the process of sailing the ship, as well as regular workshops.

Read more about the ships routine at sea and in port and the watch system A Typical Day on Picton Castle

World voyages are open to men and women ages 18+ of all nationalities. On these longer voyages Picton Castle will not accept bookings from couples wanting to sail together (read why Picton Castle has a no couples policy on the legs longer than 3 months). On the shorter voyages the ship will take trainees from 16yrs + and couples are welcome to sail on the same trip.

Sailing experience is NOT required.

female sailor on the helm of Picton Castle

Who Comes on a World Voyage ? 

Imagine you're in the middle of the ocean, weeks away from land, living and working with 51 other people in a space not longer than 179 feet and not wider than 23 feet. Now imagine what kind of people you'd want to be with in that situation; it's probably people who are pleasant, amiable and even-tempered. All candidates for Picton Castle voyages are subject to an application process including an interview. You are also required to provide proof of good health and the ability to do moderately strenuous physical activity.

Maybe this is something you have always dreamed of. Maybe you're taking a gap year or a career break. Maybe you want vocational training to start a maritime career. Maybe you're up for the adventure of a lifetime. Picton Castle is the only square-rigged ship sailing around the world today on which you can sign on to sail as crew the whole way 'round. Trainees may also sign on for one or more legs of the voyage.

How do I apply? Frequently Asked Questions and how to talk to us about your sailing dreams

Picton Castle crew photo on the main deck

Ship Specification and Below Decks

The ship is a completely refitted barque that observes the rigorous standards of Germanischer Lloyds for steel-hulled Cape Horners. She is 179 feet overall, 148 ft on deck, with riveted steel hull, clear oiled-pine decks, steel masts, and wooden and steel yards. She carries 12,450 square feet of canvas sail, including stunsails.

The ship is very proud of their ships boats, which come into their own when you are in the Caribbean or South Pacific islands. They have oars and sails so you can land on the beach in try explorer style or race the locals.

The ship also has a powerful 690 hp Burmeister & Wain alpha diesel engine for occasions when sailing is not feasible. 

Picton Castle is a true working ship with  few modern concessions. It does have legendary cooks like Donald from Grenada and the ships crew often load up with fresh produce straight from the villages and jungles. The galley is located at deck level. They have replaced the 1893 cook stove now with a modern cooker! 

Read full ships specification and safety equipment.

Read more about accommodation and below deck layout plan

World Voyage Kit List - what to bring

What Other People Say

Trainees on Picton Castle's first six world circumnavigation voyages describe their experience as profoundly enriching, broadening their understanding of the world in both the physical and cultural sense while gaining seamanship skills and an intimate knowledge of how the ship works. 

Read more crew comments

aloft on the Picton Castle

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