Day 1: Newcastle to Sydney

Wednesday 17 September 2014, 2000 hours

A new crew has joined the HMB Endeavour replica and are settling into the hammocks that will be their place of rest for the next four nights aboard. Welcoming a new crew aboard is always exciting and this morning in Newcastle was no exception.

We departed Queen’s Wharf at 0900 and headed north for Port Stephens under engines while the 24 new voyage crew and supernumeraries underwent training and ship familiarisation.

Through the heads into  Port Stephens. Photo: Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Through the heads past Mount Yakaba into Port Stephens. Photo: Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

The most hotly anticipated part of the training is usually climbing aloft, and today was no exception. I get the feeling we have a bunch of keen climbers aboard for this voyage – many of the new crew were all smiles by the time they returned to the deck after their first introductory climb.

Voyage crew member Rachel descends from her first climb in Endeavour's rigging. Photo: SMM.

Supernumerary Rachael descends from her first climb in Endeavour’s rigging. Photo: SMM.

One group finished their climbing once we were at anchor in Port Stephens, with the sun beginning to glow orange as it set in the west.

The landscape around our anchorage tonight is, once again, quite spectacular, though not nearly as remote as the coast around Broken Bay where we anchored on the previous voyage.

Although Port Stephens is lovely, it’s a challenging place for a ship of Endeavour’s size to enter due to the narrow entrance and shallow waters in places once inside the heads. Captain Cook named Port Stephens when he sailed by on 11 May 1770, but did not enter the bay itself.

We will stay here overnight before heading to sea tomorrow for two nights. The voyage crew will have many more opportunities to go aloft in the coming days to loose and furl sails.

Two of the climbers who came down from the rigging delighted with their first experience aloft were Beth and Kristian, a mother-and-son team from Newcastle. Beth is a mariner by trade and an experienced yacht sailor, but has never sailed on a square-rigged sailing ship.

A kayaker circles Endeavour at anchor in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Photo: SMM.

A kayaker circles Endeavour at anchor in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Photo: SMM.

Like others on the trip, Beth has come aboard both to experience sailing on Endeavour and to meet the Astronomer in Charge of the Anglo-Australian Astronomical Observatory, Fred Watson, aboard the ship on Saturday afternoon. He will lead an astronomy session that evening while we are at anchor off Pittwater.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the constellations that we can see above us on a clear night – as well as hopefully learning a little about celestial navigation, an exact science that was vital to Captain Cook’s navigation of the original Endeavour.

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth