Picton Castle captain earns lifetime achievement award

by Michael Lee

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>The latest recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Tall Ships America, Capt. Daniel Moreland of the &#8220;Picton Castle.&#8221;</p>

The long-time captain of the Lunenburg-based "Picton Castle" has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Tall Ships America.

Capt. Daniel Moreland, who has commanded the ship for most of the past 20 years and taken it on six world circumnavigations, was presented the honour at a conference in Quebec City on January 30.

The award ceremony was hosted by Sail Training International and Tall Ships America.

Speaking by email from the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, Moreland said he was honoured to receive a rare distinction in front of hundreds of associates from around the world but felt it was the crew and shore staff who earned the recognition.

"My wife Tammy was quite pleased. My small son could not care less," he said.

Moreland was first inspired to sail by the "big West Indian schooners" that sailed the Caribbean islands in the 1950s.

When he lived there as a child, Moreland would take trips down to the docks with his nanny to buy bananas or coffee for the house.

As a teenager, he worked in the boatyards and went to sea in his first ship at 18. "I have not looked back," he said.

Moreland said it wasn't the sailing that appealed to him as much as it was the community of the ships and the islands, and the men who sailed them - "Knights of the Sea" he called them - and as a boy, Moreland wanted to be one of them.

"I saw these men, and the men and women around them, as maybe the coolest people I could imagine," he said.

Moreland joined the "Brigantine Romance" as mate for a world circumnavigation, continuing on to Denmark to join the state training ship "Danmark."

His restoration of the schooner "Ernestina ex Effie M. Morrissey" earned him the Honour Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1987.

After developing a sail training program aboard the US Brig "Niagara" and working as master and mate aboard various other training vessels, Moreland selected, designed and rigged the "Picton Castle," with most of the work being done in Lunenburg.

Moreland has circumnavigated the globe seven times and if he had to choose a place which stood out for him, it would be a few: the Pitcairn Islands of the South Pacific, Bali, South Africa and of course, "dear Nova Scotia."

Even after 20 years, Moreland said life aboard the "Picton Castle" hasn't changed much.

"We still have hot sun, big waves, gales, cool gentle trade winds, heavenly anchorages, outrageous anchorages, pleasant officials, crazy ones too. We run out of fresh fruit and then on the next island drown ourselves in watermelon and pineapple," he said.

"Small problems develop long shadows until they disappear as our minds open up. We have hot water showers now. But today's luxuries become tomorrow's necessities. We try to stay mindful of that conundrum."

It is a throwback in many ways to a common life which existed in Nova Scotia not too long ago, said Moreland.

"It is a healthy, outdoor, barefoot life that demands the most of us at times. Life ashore has changed a lot more in those 20 years. We cannot change channels on the ship as one can ashore. We can only adjust our attitudes."

He envisions one more world voyage for the "Picton Castle" but said he wants to make room for the next generation of seafarers at the ship's Boson School in Lunenburg.

Moreland said there isn't a "finer basic training for any modern seafarer than time at sea on a sailing ship like Picton Castle."

"Picton Castle is a perfect and powerful offshore, blue water, square-rigged seamanship training platform with a heavy dose of life enriching adventure thrown in. This is what she does. This is what she should do."

Moreland doesn't see retirement any time soon, calling the life he has lived its own reward.

As for what keeps him going, he cited a "complete and utter failure to find something more fascinating or challenging."

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