Day 4-5 Botany Basics voyage and a weekend in Newcastle

Our final update from the Botany Basics voyage last week has been a little delayed due to the very busy few days we’ve had in Newcastle.

HMB Endeavour replica has been docked at Queen’s Wharf since Friday evening and nearly 3500 people have come aboard the ship in the four days since then, not including several groups of children from schools in the Newcastle area.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle's Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle’s Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

At the time of our last post from the Botany Basics voyage, we were at sea in light airs, making the most of a gentle southerly to get in some good sailing offshore from Broken Bay before heading north towards Newcastle.

The light winds continued during Thursday (day 4 of the voyage) before a sudden change came through around 2200 hours – four bells into the evening watch*. The topsails had been reefed earlier in the evening and we had further shortened sail at the change of the watch (2000 hours) so were prepared for the increased wind.

The southerly breeze was ideal for sailing north to Newcastle. The ship zigzagged up the coast, sailing with the wind abaft the beam. We wore ship at each change of watch in order to head towards Newcastle, making it a busy night!

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo: SMM.

Closer to Newcastle on Friday morning, shipping traffic increased and our lookouts were kept busy keeping an eye on new ships appearing on the horizon at regular intervals.

The stern lookout also spotted two seals playing just behind us as we came into Newcastle. It was a good voyage for wildlife sightings, with a small minke whale swimming around the ship for about an hour on Thursday and humpbacks breaching close by during the night.

Endeavour entered Newcastle just before 1500 hours on Friday, exchanging gun salutes with the Fort Scratchley. Fort Scratchley is famous as the only coastal fortification to have fired at an enemy Naval vessel during World War II.

Endeavour at Queen's Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby's Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour at Queen’s Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby’s Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Newcastle is also significant for the Endeavour replica as Nobby’s Head, the headland at the southern entrance to Newcastle Harbour, was sighted by Captain Cook on 10 May 1770, four days after his departure from Botany Bay.

Endeavour has not visited Newcastle for about six years and we were delighted with the wonderful reception from the city. We were met by a large crowd on the wharf and the Newcastle Herald captured some lovely shots of the ship’s arrival.

Endeavour will depart Queen’s Wharf at 0900 hours this morning. We’ll keep you updated – depending on our access to the internet – during the next voyage, sailing from Newcastle to Port Stephens then south to Pittwater before arriving in Sydney on Sunday 21st September.

All’s well.

* The ship’s bell was traditionally struck each half hour, with one to eight bells struck during each four hour watch. Therefore two bells in the evening watch (2000-2400 hours) indicates 2200 hours, or 10pm.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth