On the whale trail: Voyage to Eden day 2-3

Wednesday 29 October 2014, 1800 hours

Distance under sail since midday yesterday: 25 nautical miles
Distance under engines since midday yesterday: 92 nautical miles

It’s been a very busy 30 hours since our last blog post! At the time of writing we are six miles off Snapper Point, south of Jervis Bay. We’ve passed parts of the coast of particular resonance to HMB Endeavour, have set sails, have covered 117 miles, have seen whales and have held a memorial service for one of Endeavour‘s past engineers who passed away recently.

Tribute to Wally Mounster. Image: Paula Tinney

Tribute to Wally Mounster. Image: Paula Tinney

Tribute to an engineer

Wally Mounster passed away on 22 October 2014. Wally was engineer on Endeavour during her world voyages and continued to be involved with the ship until recently. He was known among Australia’s tall ship fraternity as a much-loved shipmate and mentor to many other tall ship sailors and engineers.

Many of Endeavour‘s current professional crew have fond memories of sailing with him. Wally sailed on many of Australia’s tall ships – Endeavour, Enterprize, Duyfken and Leeuwin to name just a few.

Wally’s funeral was held at 3pm today in Hobart, so we held a memorial service to coincide with the funeral. Our third mate Penny, gave a tribute to Wally before the ship’s cannon was fired and as the smoke cleared across the waves with the distant land hazy in the background, I heard someone who knew Wally say, ‘he would have liked that.’

Wildlife sightings

Our first whale sighting for the voyage came at 1015 this morning – unfortunately right in the middle of a man overboard drill, meaning most of the crew didn’t see the whale!

Luckily, four more whales were sighted before midday. Geoff Ross was able to easily identify the whales as humpbacks by their pectoral fins and breaching behaviour. A sixth whale was sighted at 1600 – possibly a Sei or Minke whale, but it didn’t surface enough for Geoff to positively identify it.

Geoff has now started a whale log, which will be kept next to the helm so that anyone on board can log their sightings of whales during the voyage.

Since leaving Sydney Harbour, we’ve seen big numbers of short-tailed shearwaters (commonly known as muttonbirds) – sometimes gliding by, but often bobbing in the water near the ship, looking at us inquisitively or with heads down watching for fish beneath them.

Today, three albatross have been sighted – two black-browed albatross and one yellow-nosed albatross. Unfortunately no one has been quick enough with a camera to get a shot of any of our sightings so far, but hopefully there will be plenty more opportunities so stay tuned.

Sailing south from Sydney past Botany Bay

One of the interesting parts of the last day and a half has been sailing along the coastline south of Sydney – passing Botany Bay, which was the first place where crew of the original Endeavour landed on the Australian coastline.

We passed Botany Bay around 1700 hours yesterday evening. (Unlike the original Endeavour we were taking full advantage of our engines at this point, as the wind had shifted and after 1630 yesterday we were no longer able to hold a southerly course under sail.)

Looking westwards towards the entrance to Botany Bay.  Image: EAP

Looking westwards towards the entrance to Botany Bay. Image: EAP

I think I had always pictured Botany Bay as a place unchanged by human settlement and existing much as it was when Endeavour visited in 1770. Of course, this imagined place is long gone and Botany is now one of Australia’s largest commercial shipping ports. From our passage a few miles offshore we could see the rows of cranes that line the Port of Botany silhouetted against the afternoon sky.

The north head of Botany Bay is named Cape Banks and the southern head Cape Solander. This voyage we have supernumerary crew occupying the cabins that would have been occupied by the botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on the original vessel.

Joseph Banks is of course well known for his role in funding Cook’s voyage to the Pacific on Endeavour and for the flora and fauna specimens he collected in the South Pacific and along the east coast of Australia.

Daniel Solander was a Swedish naturalist who had studied under the famous botanist Linnaeus. He became a tutor and friend to Joseph Banks, who at 24 was 11 years Solander’s junior. This friendship led to Solander’s role in Cook’s voyage to the South Pacific and Australia.

All’s well.

Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Hauling on the main course brace: Setting sail as we begin our journey south. Image: EAP



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