Eden to Sydney voyage, day 3-4

Thursday 6 November 2013, 1800 hours

Hours under sail since 1800 Tuesday: 41
Hours under engine since 1800 Tuesday: 7
Distance over ground: 197 nautical miles

The last 48 hours have seen the HMB Endeavour replica sailing at some distance offshore and weathering variable winds. We’ve also encountered some heavy rain accompanied by a few flashes of lightning – followed the next day by clear skies and a hot sun! So it’s been a busy and exciting time handling sails in order to get the most out of the ship with the wind that we’ve had.

Our last post, written on Tuesday but unfortunately not online immediately due to lack of internet access offshore, saw us 33 miles off Montague Island, sailing slightly north of west. We made two more tacks back and forth off the coast but weren’t able to gain ground to the north.

Waiting for the southerly change. Image: EAP.

Waiting for the southerly change. Image: EAP.

On Wednesday morning as we waited hopefully for the predicted southerly change to arrive, the wind dropped off completely and given the distance we still needed to cover to arrive on time in Sydney on Friday, it was time to power up the ‘iron topsails’ and motor north.

As the day developed, a band of cloud formed in the west, but still no sign of the southerly change during the afternoon. When the change finally did arrive around 1700 on Wednesday evening, it brought with it plenty of wind and rain.

Setting sails in the rain. Image: Nick Brown.

Endeavour crew sets sails in the wind and rain. Image: Nick Brown.

The ‘all hands on deck’ call caught some of us unprepared but we were soon all on deck dressed in the various bright colours of our wet weather gear. Those that didn’t quite get their rain gear on in time ended up soaked through by the end of their time on deck!

Under sail in the rain! Image: Nick Brown.

Under sail in the rain! Image: Nick Brown.

Setting sails was harder work (and more exciting!) than we’d experienced so far this trip due to the stronger winds. Every sail required more muscle power to set and every line carried more weight due to the wind behind each sail.

All the watches had previously had ample practice setting sails and handling lines in light winds, so the voyage crew were well prepared when the wind did pick up and sails needed to be set in a hurry.

The hard work was definitely worth it, as we were soon powering along under topsails, forecourse, spritsail and two fore-and-aft sails. We averaged around 6 knots during the night and at times exceeded 9 knots.

Unfortunately, the swell was still running from the north, making for an uncomfortable ride as Endeavour’s bluff bows punched into the oncoming swell. It made for a tough night for some amongst the voyage crew who suffered from seasickness.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and seemed to mark a turning point – everyone had a new spring in their step!

Sails set on the mainmast - as seen from above on Endeavour. Image: EAP.

Sails set on the mainmast – as seen from above on Endeavour. Image: EAP.

The swell finally eased as the day progressed, and with the sun shining and sails set it was a wonderful day’s sailing north towards Sydney.

We celebrated two birthdays in the afternoon – voyage crew member David Yarra and topman Amy Spets. In an unusual turn around, ‘all hands’ was called again – this time not to go on deck and set sails, but to gather on the 20th century deck for cake and candles.

Birthday cake, Endeavour style. Image: EAP.

Birthday cake, Endeavour style. Image: EAP.

We made sure the two people left on the helm and the lookouts didn’t miss out on cake!

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth