The barque Picton Castle is the most traveled of the tall ships that will drop anchor in Greenport Harbor this Memorial Day weekend.
In addition to many other trips, the ship has completed five global circumnavigations in the past 15 years, according to a spokesman for the ship, visiting the Galapagos Islands, Pitcairn Island, Mangareva, Takaroa, Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora and other spots in French Polynesia. Soon, it will follow the wind to Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands, ending up in Rarotonga a year from now.
The ship and four others were built in 1928 as motorized fishing trawlers named after castles; Picton Castle is in Wales. The ships were hailed as marvels of their time by contemporary newspapers for their modernization; Picton Castle, for example, had electric lights and a depth finder. The vessel operated out of Wales for its first few years and later underwent several notable transformations.
Refit by the Royal Navy, the ship became a minesweeper during Word War II. After the war, it was renamed Dolmar and used as a freighter in the North and Baltic seas.
During the 1990s, Captain Daniel Moreland, who still commands the vessel, acquired Picton Castle and transformed it into a barque, a sailing vessel with at least three masts. The aftmost mast on a barque-rigged ship is fore-and-aft rigged and all other masts are square-rigged
The multi-million dollar refit took place in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, the ship’s homeport. Picton Castle completed its first global circumnavigation in 1999, with Capt. Moreland at the helm. He has led all of the ship’s subsequent circumnavigations.
The ship’s website describes Capt. Moreland as one of the most respected sailing ship masters at sea today. He holds, it reports, “the rarest license issued to Merchant Marine officers today: Master of steam, motor, or auxiliary sail vessels of any gross tons upon oceans.”