Voyage Log: Coffs Harbour – Port Macquarie day 3

Saturday, 20th September 2008

Noon position: Lat 31°10.8’S Long 154°47.1́E
Day’s run: 125.4nm

The winds are up so there is sail handling to do. After lunch mainmast watch is aloft putting a double reef in the fore topsail; reefs reduce the size of a sail, preventing stress on te rigging in strengthening winds. Reefs reduce the effective capacity of a sail, ensuring the sail is filled and kept tight in lighter winds and achieves the best rate of knots. By 1400 hours Matt the boatswain’s mate is excited because we’ve lost sight of land, “we’re gunning it!” And he can’t do his maintenance work painting the port side anchor; it’s wet from bow waves splashing the deck.


Up go the fore and main mast topsails, with the courses already set there are now 4 majestic square sails up, pulling hard in the wind. The voyage crew stand around looking up from below, admiring their work. One after the other the staysails are handed in, and Bark Endeavour continues out to sea with only square sails set.

At 1500 hours all hands are called on deck to wear ship, the first sailing manoeuvre for the voyage crew. No sooner are they done, with the ship on a heading west back towards land, and all hands are called to wear ship again at 1700! They man their bracing stations and work hard at the task, it’s a huge group effort, with some of the tougher lines attended by 2 watches worth of crew (24 people), all mixed together. Watch rivalry goes out the window when there’s a big task on, and the crew appreciate they are one big team.

Out in the swell properly now and many of the crew are affected with seasickness, they take in fresh air on deck and their shipmates attend them with “happy buckets”. Those feeling green try different methods of reducing their symptoms like looking at the horizon line. It has been a busy first day at sea, Ally the foremast topman says he’s no time to eat, “there’s plenty of food, but too much work to do!”

During the night the safety lines go up on deck so that people feeling sick can negotiate their way around more easily, and stay on their feet in the wind and swell. Tegan and Amy, the mizzenmast topman and yardie, have to make do with only a handful of their number attending the watch, and find themselves at the helm by the end of it.

The morning sees the wind still blowing strong with a moderate swell. The day is thinly overcast with a few holes for the sun to shine through, the light glares and the breeze is brisk. The crew awake from a variable nights sleep, a frequent ocean goer in the voyage crew is seasick for the first time, but is comforted by a sense of joining an exclusive club or secret society – they can now empathise with anyone who has held a bucket at sea.

The skipper, Ross, is keen to get everyone active on deck, being up and about ensures a speedier recovery from seasickness. The winds are expected to pick up in the afternoon with forecasts of up to 30 knots, and they are bound to turn from a north westerly to a south westerly and back again. So the “seas will be a little bit confused.” First everyone is called to “happy hour”, cleaning stations aboard ship; due to the busy departure of the previous morning a few areas of the ship were unattended, so there’s plenty of scrubbing to be done.

Once the cleaning stations are finished there is a smoko (morning tea) reward, with chocolate cake and fruit slice. At 1100 hours all hands are called to bracing stations to wear ship. Crew scuttle for a last bit of cake and have it in their hand before looking up to see the captain in front of them, they hastily scoff it into their mouth before racing up to deck – quick enough to escape a word from their skipper.

After wearing ship successfully, Ross gathers all the voyage crew to talk about sail handling, and describes the manoeuvres just completed.

All is well.

Contributed by ship’s steward Mischa Chaleyer-Kynaston