On board a tall ship

Written by: Halden Krog

It was a last-minute decision to take the children to see the Picton Castle on her last night moored at the Cape Town Waterfront. They had been back at school for three days after nearly two months of holidays and the return to the classroom had caused its own share of havoc and drama in a household where routine had also gone on vacation.

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By Friday afternoon we had all had enough and seeing as routine was already out the window, we set off to grab a glimpse of the tall ship in the harbor.

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It had started earlier the week though after my wife, a freelance journalist, had returned home from a function aboard the 87-year old sailing ship. The Picton Castle and its crew had been in town for nearly three weeks.

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She talked non-stop of the experience – and so it was no big surprise that myself and the children (aged 4 and 8) wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

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As a photographer I was not going to leave my camera behind and at first glance my visual juices started flowing at the sight of this majestic vessel bathed in setting sun.

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My awe was mirrored in the words of my excited son and daughter who could not contain their excitement at the sight of the ship. “Look, look Dad – it’s a pirate ship!”

From a distance one could make out the crew having dinner on deck, the South African flag dancing in the wind amongst the masts and rigging. After spending 20 minutes or so on the quay photographing the ship from afar we decided to leave – this was as close as we were going to get.

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We were about to go – dragging away two reluctant children – when someone on board recognised my wife.

Clambering on board my children fell silent for the first time all day completely in awe of what they were experiencing. Not only had they seen a pirate ship – they were actually on one – and it boasts a ghost. What more could anyone ask for?

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Every corner of the ship is festooned with trinkets from far away places.

For me the ghost was slightly less impressive compared to the opportunity to capture what being on board a vessel such as this means.

Former crew member Georgina Lockwood expertly gave us a tour explaining what is required for such a vessel to be able to circumnavigate the earth three times. The captain’s son, Dawson, also used the opportunity to get some playtime in and exhausted himself showing my two land lovers what living on a big boat is all about.

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Several hours later, tucking my son into bed, I smiled as he sleepily echoed what I had been thinking. “How lucky is Dawson to live on that ship. It’s beautiful. Maybe one day I can go live on it too.”

Mjejane

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