Voyage Log: Brisbane-Coffs Harbour day 6

9th September 2008 – Tuesday
Noon position: Lat 28°58.36′S Long 153°45.9′E
Day’s run: 83nm

Straight into it after lunch, we wear ship and head out to sea, then half an hour later all hands make to tack, box it off and make back towards the coast. Endeavour flies two topsails, two courses, and the fore topsail; and for a little while up go the topgallants. Everyone aboard is getting in the swing of things and jump at any opportunity to go aloft, as soon as we’ve made about the mainmast watch go aloft and unreef the mainmast topsail.

Half way through their time together and banter between the watches is on the rise, with plenty of ribbing each other and competitive sentiments – all delivered with broad smiles. Foremast and mizzen watches seem most vocal, while mainmast remains quietly confident. All will be settled come the line calling competition and quiz. Foremast watch even has a battle cry when coming on duty, Ally their topman runs them tight like a bootcamp drill instructor, shame he can’t keep his upperyardie Josh on task though – during the afternoon while handling topsails Josh calls out ready but halts swiftly – as he’s still on the jackstay and gets lifted a few feet with the yard! Tegan, the mizzenmast topman is especially amused.

The afternoon turns into evening, and mizzenmast watch heads aloft to furl the main topgallant – everyone a little sad as the TG’s were out so briefly – and Bark Endeavour makes a fine sight with them flying. Matt, the boatswain’s mate, accuses the officers this way and that of bringing “my topgallant down, I only just put it up!” Second mate Ben replies “Your topgallant now is it?”, but Ben sympathises, also sorry to see them go.

Dirk the navigator is a little late arriving to dinner, sitting down with a bright face – a childlike glimmer in his eye. He’s been “shooting stars”, taking readings and getting a position by the method and apparatus used in Cook’s day, with results this evening as good as they can be with the sextant. His evening only gets better with Abi serving green curry, followed by an all-time favourite: berry flan. And Darbey leads a jolly galley duty with songs starting again and again – finishing the tunes is not important.

Mizzenmast watch reports a beautiful night’s sailing, stars and more stars, delicate rain clouds, and dolphins like silver torpedoes with phosphorous tubes in their wake. It’s a calm night, with only the soft puffs from the dolphins as they surface. Come change of watch though and a squall is spotted south west, when we’re about ten miles off Yamba, we clew the courses, wear ship, and hand the main topmast staysail. The winds are 25-30 knots and rain comes in, as we charge back off the coast. Once clear the courses are reset.

At 0930 all hands are called to wear ship, Ant, the sailing master, gets a few more sails set, later handed back in. Around 1000 hours a coal ship crosses our bow, the skipper aboard gruff and will not budge. At 1030 a whale is seen breaching clearly, off to starboard, but remains elusive to the many cameras on deck competing for the bottle of rum. Just before noon and the decision is made, all hands called to hand in the sails, it’s time for the “iron staysails” to make us some ground so that we may anchor in good time for the task of coming into Coffs Harbour, and can hold a Sod’s Opera – the eagerly awaited exhibition of talent performed by voyagers and professional crew alike.

All is well.