Tuesday 2 September 2014
Our HMB Endeavour replica is back at sea again after close to a year in port. With a small group of voyage crew and one supernumerary, we went to anchor off Taronga Zoo yesterday afternoon to undertake emergency drills and initial training for the voyage crew.
From there, we had an amazing view all night of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. For an out-of-towner like me, it’s a spectacular sight.
We set sail this morning on our way out through the heads and spent most of the day heading north under reefed topsails. We had expected strong winds with the approach of a cold front but so far the wind has remained relatively light – force 5-6 or around 20-25 knots.
Already this group of voyage crew have experienced some of the unique parts of sailing a replica 18th century ship. Modern sailors might be used to pressing a button to haul in on an anchor chain – a noisy process as the chain rattles against the hawse pipe and into the chain locker below. On modern ships the anchor generally stows flat against the hull with minimal effort required from the crew.
By contrast, on Endeavour this morning a few crew members got their hands very dirty as they helped bring in the anchor cable – a line with a circumference of 8 inches, thick with mud from the bottom of Sydney Harbour. Bringing the anchor up is only the first part – it then had to be securely stowed against the hull.
Over the next few days, the voyage crew will set and hand sails and will wear (turn around) the ship as required. I’m one of the upper yardsmen on board, meaning that I assist a topman (watchleader) in these sailing manoeuvres. While I’m an experienced tall ship sailor, I’m brand new to Endeavour.
It’s exciting sailing on a new ship and my experience of the ship will be similar to that of the voyage crew in many ways – like them, I have to understand the particular way that this ship operates, learn skills specific to this ship such as how to swing a hammock, and of course get to know the rest of the permanent and voyage crew.
Just like the voyage crew I’m awed by the scale of Endeavour. Some of her sail-handling lines are as thick as my wrist, while her mooring lines and anchor cable are larger again. Like many of the voyage crew, I’m impressed by her complex rig –a rig that uses over thirty kilometres of rope.
There is the complexity of Endeavour below decks. It takes a little while to find your way around the 18th century deck, which towards the aft (back) end of the ship splits into two decks. These decks are very low and one must walk hunched over. It’s surprisingly easy in the first day or two to get lost, even though the vessel is just 33 metres long.
Ducking around and beneath the hammocks of our voyage crew strung up in the main mess area last night, it was quite daunting to imagine being on the ship with nearly three times the complement that we have on board for this voyage. We have close to 30 aboard this trip; Endeavour would have carried more than 90 people when she left England to find the ‘Great Southern land’ in the late 18th century.
We’ll keep you posted as Endeavour voyages over the next three weeks.
– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth