Destination Area: Ocean Crossings
Length: 79 NIGHTS
Vessel: Picton Castle


Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on May 6, 2020


Balboa, Panama on July 24, 2020

$10,500 USD per person. Call for air fares.

For more information call us toll free at 1-877-882-4395.

After just a few days out from Nova Scotia, the weather will warm up as we sail through the Gulf Stream. Soon it will be time for shorts and t-shirts, preparing us for the first port of call in the Caribbean, Grenada. Known primarily to Picton Castle crew as the home of our long-time ship's cook Donald Church, Grenada makes a delightful first port of call. Beaches, waterfalls, a bustling market, and the West Indian art of limin' (relaxing) are all within reach.

Carriacou is just a daysail away from Grenada. Both are part of the country of Grenada. Carriacou is a smaller, even more laid back island that is known as a centre of traditional wooden boatbuilding in the Caribbean. Ever heard of a Carriacou sloop? They're sweet wooden boats built in the traditional way outdoors overlooking the ocean, and it's well worth a visit to the building sites to check them out.

From Carriacou, we'll catch the tradewinds and sail west across the south end of the Caribbean Sea to the island of Bonaire, just off the coast of Venezuela, along the "Spanish Main". A part of the Netherlands, the Dutch influence is obvious in the language, architecture and cuisine. Salt is one of the major exports of Bonaire and many flamingoes call the salt evaporating lagoons home. We like Bonaire for its warm, dry, windy climate, it's location far from the path of hurricanes, great diving, and friendly people.

Sailing along the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea, we'll arrive at the first of our port visits in Panama. The San Blas Islands are uniquely autonomous, inhabited and governed by the Kuna people who are indigenous to the San Blas archipelago. Their culture and language is separate from that of mainland Panama. Visiting by ship, we will coordinate our visit with the Kuna people and get their permission to experience these mostly undeveloped palm covered coral islands which are spectacularly beautiful. A little further up the coast, we'll visit the Panamaian port of Portobelo. It has a long history as a port, dating back to when the Spanish sold and shipped huge amounts of silver from Portobelo to the Old World. It was at one time the principal port of gold and piracy, and was sacked many times by Sir Francis Drake and others. Foundations of the Spanish fortifications can still be seen in Portobelo, causing us to wonder about the stories of piracy that happened here.

The Panama Canal is the modern engineering marvel that allows vessels to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific without having to round Cape Horn. For a sailor, it's a long and interesting day to see how it all works. Picton Castle usually makes a daylight transit, and must take a pilot who is an expert in the local waters to guide the ship. The ship climbs through a series of locks, pulled through each by train locomotives called mules, then crosses the freshwater Lake Gatun that feeds the water to the lock systems, then descends the steps of the locks on the other side, heading for Panama City. Picton Castle will moor at a berth in the neighbourhood of Balboa in Panama City. While Panama City provides a great chance to provision the ship with food, supplies and fuel, it's also a fascinating place for our crew to explore on days off duty. If you like history you can visit Casco Viejo, the old quarter of the city. If you're into architecture, you can see amazing old and new buildings throughout the city. If you're into surfing, there are beaches and surfboard rentals nearby. If you like shopping, Panama has it in spades. If you like good food, you're sure to find it in Panama.

The barque Picton Castle is a traditionally rigged and operated deep water sail training vessel. She typically undertakes long ocean passages, and ha ...

Read more about the Picton Castle     

  • Learn square rig sailing
  • Hands-on practice of seamanship skills
  • Rigging & sail handling
  • Helmsmanship
  • Small boat handling
  • Navigation
  • Personal growth through teamwork & taking personla responsibility
  • Sail to culturally rich ports and islands
  • Simply enjoy being at sea

An ocean passage of 79 days
from Nova Scotia to the Panama Canal.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

At Sea

With 365 idyllic beaches – one for each day of the year – Antigua is the water sports mecca of the Caribbean. Wind surfers, sailors, divers and sun seekers love this island of rolling hills and wide sweeping bays. The dockyards, marinas, old inns, venerable pubs and convivial crowds of sun-tanned yacht crews might remind you a bit of Newport or Annapolis, because this is the epicenter of the Caribbean yachting world. English Harbour is probably one of the most atmospheric ports you’ll ever encounter. It was here that a soon-to-be-famous Royal Navy Captain set up his base in 1785. Today, every faded pink brick and weather-worn bollard of Nelson’s Dockyard evokes the presence of the greatest naval Commander in history. You’ll feel the legacy of the British as you stroll along the boardwalk to Redcliffe Quay, a historic promenade of restored town homes and stone warehouses that have been converted into brightly painted cafes, shops and restaurants.

Peaceful and removed describes this patch of paradise. Green rolling hills descend to sandy white beaches (typical of the Grenadines.) At Tyrrel Bay, under the shade of palms at the edge of the sea, you can watch local men building schooners by hand. Still unspoiled by mass tourism, this is the perfect spot for getting away-from-it-all.

Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

San Blas Islands, Panama
Situated in the Caribbean Sea a few miles off the north coast of Panama, the San Blas de Cuna Islands are the home of the Cuna, a traditional society of Native Americans. Most of these tropical islands are very small. Many are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands are part of Panama, but are primarily administered by the Cuna tribe.

Molas are one of the primary expressions of the visual arts in Cuna society. All genuine molas were created by a Cuna woman as the focal point for her own dress. The designs are always original and are an important way for a woman to express herself and demonstrate her talent and industry in this politically active and traditionally matriarchal society.

Portobelo, Panama

Balboa, Panama
Balboa, founded by the United States during the construction of the Panama Canal, was named after Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the first European to explore the eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean. The city is located at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, and thrives on the business from Balboa Harbor, it's commercial port. In 1979 the Canal Zone, previously a U.S. territory, was ceded to Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaties. The Panama Canal's Administration Building, former seat of the Canal Zone Government and Panama Canal Company, is located in Balboa Heights. Sightseeing high points include the Canal Administration Building and the fairly well-preserved architecture of the Canal Zone era, the Goethals Memorial, El Prado Boulevard, and the handicrafts markets.

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