Friday, 30th September 2008
Port Macquarie, alongside Lady Nelson Wharf, Town Green
It’s a bright, sunny morning in Port Macquarie, Bark Endeavour stands tall and elegant in the morning light, ready to welcome her new voyage crew aboard. Early arrivals start appearing alongside at 0800, slowly others join them until there is a crowd waiting on the wharf with their luggage, all eyes on the ship.
The topman and upper yardies of each watch – the foremast, mainmast, and mizzenmast – circulate through the crowd seeking their watch members, whom they will look over, teach, and guide, while sailing Endeavour. Watch by watch they board the ship, after ticking their name off and getting a voyage crew uniform shirt from Paula, the shore manager. Once aboard they head below and stow their luggage, have a quick glance at the locker room and galley area, then rejoin their topman and are issued their watch number. Their watch number is used regularly to confirm all are present and accounted for – a crucial safety protocol, as well as other logistics like who is on galley duty – crucial for every crew stomach.
The watch members introduce themselves within each watch, talk a little about their backgrounds and lives on land, then commence a tour of the ship and safety inductions. All hands are called to the quarter deck for the first morning briefing with the captain, Ross, and chief officer, Toby, a daily ritual. Toby is looking smart with his flash new walking stick, keeping him afoot after rolling his ankle during the arrival at Port Mac. Ross welcomes the voyage crew aboard and introduces all of the professional crew with only one minor slip-up, his best first day introductions on record! Toby takes over and begins going through the enormous amount of information the voyage crew will receive by the end of the day, regarding safety and general ship operations. There’s loads to go through, but it will all be reiterated with hands on demonstrations within each watch.
While Toby gives his briefing the other crew return to their duties preparing the ship for departure. The yardies are on maintenance with Ant, the sail master and boatswain, oiling cleats and bunts; the captain and Wally, the engineer, start up the motors and run a test; and Dirk, the navigator and medical officer, checks the navigation and communication equipment. A few dolphins splash lazily past the yardies and boatswain’s mate, the ship is of little interest to the dolphins while she’s stationary.
Toby finishes his briefing and the watches return to their topman and yardie, and continue their tour and safety induction. Ally, the foremast topman, explains the requirements of the bow watch, and the use of life rings; Tom, the mainmast topman, goes through some rope handling, finishing with “Clear as mud? Beautiful.” It’s a lot to take in, on the first day everything is run through at least once and some practicing is done, but integrating the knowledge properly is accomplished at sea.
Endeavour is due to depart tomorrow morning on the high tide, weather permitting, at about 0930 hours.
All is well.
Contributed by ship’s steward Mischa Chaleyer-Kynaston