Voyage Log: Sydney-Brisbane Aug 2008: Day 8

Noon position: Lat: 30.06.7S  Long: 153.25E.
Day’s run: 119 nautical miles

Today, with a strong following south-westerly wind, reaching Gale Force 7-8 at times, Endeavour has made good progress, passing Coffs Harbour at 11am, staying on course and heading north for the last 24 hours.

With winds of over 40 knots, gusting up to 50 knots over the deck, and wave heights up to five metres and more, the crew has been busy with much sail handling to trim the ship for these conditions. But at last we have passed the most northerly point we had reached three days ago, before the adverse winds made us lose ground.

The forecasts had indicated this major change in the weather, and the ship has been well-prepared, reducing the sail ready for today’s blow. Now the ship is ‘scudding’ – running before the wind with just the foresails set. Extra safety lines have also been erected on the decks.

In these conditions, as the masts pitch and roll, going aloft to reef or furl a sail can be a bold undertaking for a member of the voyage crew. But with the full body harnesses that attach to the built-in safety lines running up to the yards, and accompanied by members of the professional crew, many voyage crew members are eager to taste the excitement and sense of accomplishment that this experience offers – some more eagerly than others!
At the helm of HMB Endeavour

At the helm of HMB Endeavour

A spell on the helm can be a strenuous business too, holding the ship to course as the wind and the sea press on the sails and hull. There are always two people on the helm – the ‘brains’ who keeps a sharp eye on the compass and calls the adjustments to the helm – and the ‘brawn’ who takes the brunt of turning the wheel to change the angle of the ship’s rudder. With these wind strengths, both ‘brain’ and ‘brawn’ tackle turning the wheel together, with a professional crew member keeping a weather eye on progress.

After a long night, and a hard morning, the voyage crew were congratulated by the captain in his daily briefing for the work they had put in to manage the ship in this weather.

The foremast watch were on duty for the 2000 hrs to midnight stretch last night, when the wind was just starting to pick up to 15-20 knots. Although largely uneventful, it was marked by the sight of a school of dolphins playing round the ship, leaving luminescent trails of phosphorescence in their wake.

The midnight to 0400 hrs mainmast watch were kept busy bracing yards as the wind stiffened. They were running with the fore course, fore topsail, fore topmast staysail, main course and main topsail set, making Endeavour travel along at a stately 4-5 knots.

The mizzenmast watch took over dark and early for the 0400 to 0800 hrs stretch, during which the wind steadily increased from 20 to 30 knots, becoming very strong, but the work already carried out on the sails by previous watches meant that no further adjustment was needed. The mizzenmast watch was called out again soon after starting their breakfast to assist the foremast watch on the first part of their morning stretch. Between them they took in the main course, as the wind was still strengthening. The foremast watch also furled the main topsail, and set the main staysail, so they had a particularly demanding watch.

The last of the tuna

The last of the tuna

Today also saw the end of yesterday’s yellowfin tuna catch. Sushimi was served up for ‘smoko’ break – prepared by Bob Mostar, a voyage crew member from Vancouver, Canada. Later for dinner, that same tuna served steaks to the whole crew, and then finished its contribution to the ship’s menu with fish soup for lunch. No fisherman’s tale – and another triumph from the galley team of Abi and Darbey!

We are now heading well up towards our destination, Brisbane, and all in good spirits.

All is well.

Contributed by ship’s steward, Melanie Snow