Voyage Log: Port Macquarie – Newcastle Day 7

Monday, 6 October 2008

Noon position Lat 33°34.2’S Long 151°20.5’E
exiting Broken Bay
Day’s run 6.1 nm

At noon, the first shore party reaches the summit of a nearby hill – an advance party – up to explore before Wally, the chief engineer, leads a large group to the summit closest to Endeavour later this afternoon. The group of voyage crew who have sailed together previously on the navy’s sail-training vessel – HMB Endeavour’s oft confused namesake Young Endeavour – sit on a large rock just above the water. They are on the beach across from Endeavour, she is at anchor in Broken Bay. After some banter with some other crew, they invite a large splash from a carefully thrown log landing at their feet. Still fully clothed, they are dripping as they clamber back off the rock – revenge on their mind.

Tegan, the mizzenmast topman, becomes the target for their retribution – despite her innocence – and is dragged kicking and screaming towards the water. When she realises they are committed to throwing her in, she stops kicking and screaming, empties her pockets and takes her jumper off, then lies down quietly so they can resume carrying. Afterwards Teegs says her watch is “a bit too fun.” Back aboard the ship and Ant, Dirk, and Matt – the sailing master, navigator, and boatswain’s mate – are carrying out maintenance duties. Many long-weekenders (this being a three day weekend in NSW) are out in their boats and yachts, coming alongside and hailing the ship, curious and pleased to see her.

On shore, Wally has arrived, and leads the large group of voyage crew bushwalkers up over the rocky bushland hillside, through the thick scrub, to the nearest summit – where everyone can get a photo of Endeavour as she would have looked arriving on Australian shores in the 18th century, surrounded by untouched bushland. Once the walk is finished people go for a last swim before heading back to the ship, fizz-boat-load by fizz-boat-load (the ship’s rescue boat). Onboard Endeavour, the topman and upperyardies have joined in on the maintenance duties, Tom, the mainmast topman, and Amy, the mizzenmast yardie, are doing touch-up painting on the after fall deck.

Over afternoon smoko – a special treat of fine cheeses and crackers – the voyage crew member whose hammock came down the first night talks of her children who sailed on Young Endeavour, and how she regretfully complained: speaking of age discrimination as Young Endeavour is restricted to 18 to 23 year-olds. And of course when they heard about Endeavour she had to come aboard: “should have kept my big mouth shut!” she says with a laugh. Everyone is enjoying themselves but it is good, hard work; lucky she’s in for a spoilt evening. Around 1700 hours and preparations are being made for mess deck dinner, where the professional crew and officers serve the voyage crew on the 18th-century deck. Meanwhile the voyage crew make last minute preparations for their sods opera acts, madly photocopying and trying to practice discreetly. The tin whistle and fife are out again, contending with the sound of the main engines which the captain, Ross, and engineer, Wally, are testing. Ross does a quick free dive (without tanks) to have a look at the starboard propeller.

At 1800 hours the professional crew start appearing in 18th-century garb, and make the final preparations for mess deck dinner. At 1830 the voyage crew are called to their seats, and have a seafood feast followed by berry flan with cream and ice cream prepared by Abi and Darbey, the catering officer and cook’s mate – though Ross tells fables of being up each morning catching the prawns himself – gracious as ever as he clears plates. After dinner and clean up it’s time for wages, a tot of rum for every hand. Then it’s straight into sods. It’s an enormous and varied line up, with each watch (the Mizzenmast Marvels, the Mainmast Merrymakers, and the Foremast Fantasticals) contributing several acts each. There are songs, poetry readings, musicians, crazy dancing (so that’s what they do on navy sail-training vessels), a game of celebrity heads fulfilling the captain’s wildest dream, jokes, more poems, more songs, more musicians, and a stand-up comic act, all accompanied by Davey’s singing – the ship’s budgie. An amazing and spectacular sods.

After such and enjoyable evening people linger for a little while, but they know there’s a day and night of hard sailing to do and eventually get themselves into their hammocks. Up on the quarter deck Ant flicks the mizzen course – out to stabilise the ship’s position while at anchor – knocking the many perched moths off, he snatches one out of the air and teases a few of the crew with it, before releasing it in the face and scruffy pirate hair of his protégé Matt – who jumps to his feet and scrambles to get rid of it.

In the morning the crew awake to an open swimming pool off the side of the ship (showers are not allowed while we’re in the bay), and they have a marvellous time – if somewhat chilly – jumping in. Down in the galley Abi asks Wally to come up with a better way of keeping a dairy fridge door latched, “ah you’d like a more scientific way” says Wally; it’s these odd inventive tasks that Wally enjoys most. Those in the refreshing water off the side of the ship call up to there less enthusiastic shipmates: “come on, you gotta live a little.” It inspires a few more swimmers. Ant and Ross don wetsuits and full dive gear to go under the ship and work on the propeller. Tom the mainmast topman spots an eagle flying over the swimmers, a dignified sight above the slapdash swimmers.

As soon as the swimming pool closes for business, mainmast watch is commanded into their harnesses without a moments delay, there’s work to be done before they are called down to the second sitting of breakfast. They can hardly believe it and get themselves nowhere with a moment’s back chat, only delaying their partaking of the pancakes that torture their olfactory sense.

0900 hours sees much furling and reefing activity in the morning drizzle, it is picturesque despite the weather – low cloud set behind the nearby hills, with faint mist veiling those further back, adding depth to Endeavour’s surroundings – and making a fine, painterly scene. At 0940 the main engines are started while the crew lifts the fizz boat onto the ship. Ally, the foremast topman, has a brief sword fight with one of his watch, in which he interlocks right hands with his opponent with index fingers pointed out – and each tries to poke the other’s shoulder. The sails ready, reefs prepared, we commence weighing anchor, and we are underway at 1013. Broken Bay is crowded with boats ahead, it being Monday of the long weekend. At 1030 the fore topmast staysail and mizzenmast staysail are set, and mainmast watch climbs up to the main course. The watches are relayed through a thorough happy hour, inspected by Toby the chief officer, Ally’s foremast watch scrub away in the 18th century with the sound of sea shanties playing. And at 1130 the main topmast staysail is set.

With all the fun, shenanigans and tomfoolery, the chief officer is keen to get the crew back out to sea: they’ve obviously had far too much sleep.

All is well.

Contributed by ship’s steward Mischa Chaleyer-Kynaston

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