Intrepid painter Helen Opie takes a trip on the tall ship Picton Castle in 2004, equipped with foul-weather gear, small-craft experience, and a painting journal. Her daily watercolours capture both routine and exciting moments on the cruise from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Massachusetts and back. A dozen essays expand upon the visual record and share the artist’s experience when she is literally at sea.
Helen Opie’s book is a wonderfully intimate portrait of life on board the sailing barque, Picton Castle. Her watercolour sketches provide an intimate and affectionate record of her trip, capturing every aspect of the work of the crew and the character of the ship. Her colourful and detailed renderings, in the tradition of the great shipboard artists of the past, are accompanied by written descriptions and personal reflections that offer insight into her experience as a welcome observer on the voyage. This is a beautiful and contemplative book.
Captain Keith McLaren, author of A Race for Real Sailors:
The Bluenose and the International Fishermen’s Cup 1920-1938
Opie’s wisdom, and vulnerability of age, take the helm through the outcomes of slipping, crashing, hurting, and rising above it all to chronicle through a journal of spontaneous watercolours that capture the essence of moments “Aboard Picton Castle”.
Wayne Boucher RCA
No path is ever the same in both directions, says Helen Opie in Aboard Picton Castle. It’s one of the many observations she makes in her voyage on the 179-foot floating school. Her watercolour sketches capture life on the Atlantic and at the stops along the way. We see through the eyes of the artist as she documents 24 days and reflects on a lifetime. Not so much travel writing as travel art.
Lawrence Powell, journalist, writer, editor