Voyage Log: Brisbane-Coffs Harbour day 7

10th September 2008 – Wednesday
Noon position Lat 30°18.4’S Long 153°08.8’E
Day’s run: 103nm

Coming into the afternoon sees all the ship’s company busy on deck, with much furling to be done. Voyagers scramble over one another – could be the last opportunity to get out on a yard and handle some sail. But it becomes clear that there is plenty to go around, with all the courses and topsails to furl, and they return to deck very pleased and satisfied with themselves – having put their full effort in. One of the upperyardies calls to their topman: “Oi! Can you take a look at this furl?” The topman comes along and stares for a moment from below, the yardie reconsiders: “Ay don’t look too hard!”
Whales are seen breaching in different positions around the ship, one breaches, then about five minutes later it comes up again. Everyone is still vying for the bottle of rum put up by the skipper, and they try to get a handle on the timing so that their camera is in the right spot. I (Mischa, the ship’s steward) get a shot with the portside anchor and some ropes in the foreground, the stipulated requirement of some Bark Endeavour, there is some umming and ahhing, but it is official, a bottle of rum for me! Suddenly I find myself a lot more popular with my shipmates, many reminders: “just remember who your friends are!”
While the whales are still around, an enormous pod of dolphins also appear alongside, with a spare moment aloft Tegan the mizzen topman counts over 50. There are numerous infants among them, and they are leaping and somersaulting all round, Abi the catering officer gets clucky – they are undeniably cute. The dolphins stay alongside for about an hour, and whales are around for most of the afternoon – giving others the opportunity to catch a competing photo. Meanwhile the ship motors on with only the staysails up to keep her as stable as possible, but it is a rolly night like those the crew have become accustomed to.

After nightfall we are treated to a moonlight cinema under the stars, a projector is setup on the waist onto a piece of canvas, and we watch some footage of Bark Endeavour moving under full sail in ideal conditions, followed by some incredible footage of a huge square-rigger going the wrong way around The Horn. Everyone is in awe of the days when seaman shimmied down the edge of sails from the tops of masts 17 storeys high.

At 0300 hours, not to be outdone by his shipmates, one of the voyagers from mizzenmast watch takes a proper tumble from his hammock, settling any arguments about the best battle damage achieved on the voyage. Navigator Dirk, also the designated medical officer, attends to him and he spends the rest of the night in the pleasant company of the mainmast watch’s topman and yardie, Tom and Amanda, who keep him chatting. Ross, our captain, brings the ship into Coffs’ outer harbour and we anchor at about 1015. We launch our rescue boat and our injured voyager, still cheerful as the day he boarded, gets a VIP ride into shore, taken by Amy the mizzenmast upperyardie, for some medical attention on shore.

It’s a quiet morning at anchorage, the day perfect and clear with a cool breeze blowing and a light swell. The watches get together in groups and start planning their acts for the Sods Opera and 18th-century mess dinner to be held tonight – all are looking forward to it.

All is well.

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