Friday, 5th August 2008
Noon position: Lat 26.49S, Long 153.09E
Day’s run: 55 Miles
“Time to sail into a storm” master Ross Mattson says it not without glee, poor forecast or not, departure is nigh, and all on board are keen to get out to sea. We are scheduled to get underway at 0400 hours, on the ebb tide, but there is still much to be done. mainmast watch, under the sharp eye of topman Tom and upperyardie Amanda, are the first put to work. With all the hands of the watch and some professional crew, the gangway and staging are dismantled, then it is time to bring the fizz-boat onboard (the 21st-century rescue speedboat). The rain is still coming down in buckets and Ant, the sailing master/boatswain, supervising the operations, claims he had to “change socks and pants four times!”
Meanwhile, below decks, the other watches finish their induction, donning life jackets, spotting modern safety equipment (fire extinguishers and liferafts), and learning the various escape routes. They are also instructed in line handling and the most useful knots on Endeavour. Ally, the foremast topman, even has time for a quick quiz (the first of many), getting his watch to name the various yards. The induction finishes with the various watches learning how to hang their hammocks, as high as possible and with knots that won’t have them crashing to deck in the night. The night is uneventful, the weather gradually easing, the only moment of note is when Tom sets a terrific example for his watch by demonstrating what can happen if you go down a companionway forwards rather than backwards – you can fall! But he is glad to own up to it with a smile, the bruised behind worthwhile if it gives a few of his shipmates a laugh.
Come 0400 hours and it’s time for a change of watch, so Tegan and Amy, topman and upperyardie, bring their mizzenmast watch up. They have the honour of letting the lines go and pushing off into the cool morning, Brisbane rustles up one last light shower to farewell the ship – but it doesn’t last long, the sun rises on a clear day. On our way down the river Endeavour passes several large cargo ships, but it’s a smooth ride around them. At one point there is concern about the smell of oil, perhaps there is a leak? But then the crew realises they are passing an oil refinery, one of a few fine fragrances in the cool morning air.
Dirk, our navigator, notes that a good sailor always errs on the side of caution, but as it turns out the conditions are better than expected, with the swell and winds easing. However on the south side of the low pressure system there are still gale conditions and storm winds, so the master remains prepared for heavier seas.
On the way out of the river, we set our first sails, the fore topmast staysail and main topmast staysail, to give Endeavour some stability as we makes way under motor. As Endeavour was welcomed to Brisbane a week before, some dolphins come to say goodbye. By noon, we make our way past the heads and have open sea before us.
All is well.