Voyage Log: Port Macquarie-Newcastle Day 3

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Noon position: Lat 33°25.9’S Long 153°53.4’E
Day’s run: 156.6 nm

Out in the swell and some crew members feel the effect, a few are sitting in the waist (the middle section of the ship) hugging “happy buckets” closely. A voyage crew member complains: “there was no mention of seasickness on the website!” Turns out he had neglected to read the log, lucky his spirits are still high – with Port Macquarie and sight of land falling swiftly behind Bark Endeavour.

The winds are high, up around 25 knots gusts of 30 knots, and Endeavour takes advantage. Sails are set in quick succession, one after the other; the main topsail, fore course, and fore topsail, and the main topmast staysail is handed in. Mainmast watch takes many ocean showers while setting sail, as waves splash over the bow and waist. At 1530 all hands are called on deck, thinking they’re in for sail handling. Everyone assembles in the waist and numbers off, as soon as Toby, the chief officer, is sure everyone is present he declares afternoon smoko time: all hands have been called to celebrate a birthday among the voyage crew! The lucky birthday fellow gets a sea shower for his trouble, as do many of the crew, with another wave splashing the deck.

At 1650 mizzenmast watch are aloft to put a second reef in the fore topsail, with half their number down and taken by seasickness. It’s a tough job with the wind pushing hard, and some stoic voyage crew work at it even though seasickness is gripping them – with the unsurprising result of some being sick from the fighting top! Fortunately seasickness is typically accompanied by wind and a rolling ship; it heads directly out to sea rather than onto those on the deck (as long as one stands on the lee/downwind side!).

The ship breaks her speed record since sailing for the ANMM: 10.7 knots! Although the sail master and boatswain, Ant, notes that she had the help of the current, so the captain, Ross, doesn’t think it counts. Either way, it is in the realm of her top speeds (the highest recorded is 12 knots).

The first night at sea is not without drama, a hammock goes down and its occupant gets a battle bump she could have done without, and a supernumerary takes a good tumble across the gentleman’s mess. At 2000 hours the watch officer notes “moderate seas”, by 0100 it has changed to “building seas”, and it builds and builds. During the night the captain shaves 20 degrees of her south heading to ease the roll a little, losing some ground, but no one appreciates it – for it’s still a restless sleep for all aboard. Not much ground is lost though; by 0600 she is level with Broken Bay, beyond her destination: Newcastle.

At 0650, 100 nautical miles off shore, we wear ship, and head back towards land. Morning briefings are held, for the professional and voyage crew; the seas continue to build and seasickness has a strong hold of many. The priority is to keep the crew active, to ensure a speedy recovery. Most still manage a smile, and all are up on deck in the fresh air. After the meeting, foremast and mizzenmast watches hit cleaning stations, “happy hour”, while mainmast watch climbs aloft to put a second reef in the main topsail – with the help of the idlers to fill in for their seasick shipmates.

The day is hot, clear and windy, with big rolling seas.

All is well.

Contributed by ship’s steward Mischa Chalayer-Kynaston