Voyage Log: Brisbane-Coffs Harbour day 4

Sunday, 7 September 2008
Noon position: Lat 29°08.5´S Long 154°15´E
Day’s run: 88nm

Our Engineer, Wally, continues his hard work, trying to get the portside navigation light working, it is proving an elusive task. A big kingfisher lands on the shrouds to say hello, and to offer some moral support, but after a minute or so realises it is beyond its area of expertise and heads back skyward.

The afternoon eases by, the Cape Byron coastline and Mount Warning makes for a pleasant view off to starboard. Some voyage crew take advantage of the fine, smooth conditions and go for a leisurely climb up the mainmast. No sail handling to do, they just stand aloft on the fighting top and chat away, indulging in the splendour of late afternoon sun on the beautiful Australian coastline. From up there they are in perfect position to see a pod of pacific dolphins run laps with the ship – keenly spotted by Matt, the boatswain’s mate, working on the foremast fighting top. The dolphins start in Endeavour’s wake, off to the portside, then they accelerate into the slipstream and shoot under the aft of the ship, coming up on the starboard side and using their momentum to launch out of the water in perfect arcs. Seen from above the pacific dolphins seem very large indeed compared to their bottle-nose cousins.  There are a few water spouts spotted far off to the north-west, but they are headed away from us and we don’t meet the whales who made them.

Just before sunset there is a change in the winds, and a strong gust, have we finally caught up with the low pressure system we’ve been headed towards? And we hoped would dissipate before we met it? A change in the winds can put well made plans to sunder, and right on dinner time all hands are required to handle the sails. Both topsails are put to bed, and the winds pick up to 25 knots, shifting 90 degrees to the south east. The ship rolls into the night, and all the lashings keeping equipment, tools, furniture and all else are put to the test. Anything not lashed down goes flying, and even Davey, the ship’s budgie, falls out of his bunk – poor fellow had only recently recovered from the seasickness that had him in a foul mood.

The low pressure system hasn’t gone away as quickly as we wished, now it’s a barrier in our path. At 0300 hours the mizzen course and mizzen staysail are set, the ship rolls even more heavily, and the sounds of large objects crashing send the idlers (yours truly – Mischa, the steward, and Matt) out of our bunks to see what damage is done. A quick, sleep frazzled glance reveals nothing that can’t wait til morning, but another crash a few moments later has me up again and rearranging some heavier items in the sailmaker’s cabin. Even with the more troublesome items dealt with, the ship continues to roll, crash, and bang through the night. After sunrise the mizzen staysail and mizzen course are handed in, to try and ease the roll before the voyage crew have to clamber out of their hammocks.

Over breakfast a couple of the voyage crew compare battle scars, earned on their first days aboard, one has taken a rolling tackle to the shin while out on a yard, another was sitting in the wrong place by the tiller and his knee took the brunt. Each injury worthy of an impressed grimace from their audience. The new roll in the swell and that in the ship take their toll on the occupants, some of those who were struggling come good, but others that were fine take a turn for the worse – but all take it in their stride. Ant, the sailing master/boatswain has his morning’s work cut out for him, the heavy rolling in the night parted a strand in the main topgallant backstay, and needs his attention for mending.

The ship is kept full and by at the helm, til just after brekkie when we wear ship back towards the coast, and we continue heading north-west til noon.

All is well.