Tuesday 4 November 2014, 1800 hours
Hours under sail since 1200 Monday: 17
Hours under engine since 1200 Monday: 11
Distance covered: 99 nautical miles
The HMB Endeavour replica is sailing on a starboard tack in a brisk 25 knot breeze, about 33 nautical miles southeast of Montague Island, off the New South Wales coast. With the wind from the northeast, we’re steering a course of west by north, hoping to gain a little ground to the north before we reach the coast.
We’re having a great sail, although the ship is rolling a bit in the light swell and some of our voyage crew are feeling a little green, but most are in high spirits and enjoying the experience. It’s the end of the second day of our voyage from Eden to Sydney.
We had a busy weekend in Eden, with more than 1300 visitors to the ship during our two days in town. Many of the visitors remembered seeing and, in some cases, coming aboard Endeavour last time she visited, towards the end of her circumnavigation of Australia in 2012.
A highlight of the weekend was the capstan competition, in which five competitors had to work a capstan to haul a car adapted to look like a whale up the boat ramp at Snug Cove.
Our five team members – Captain Dikkenberg, first mate Anthony, bosun Matt, shipwright Cody and topman Eddie easily outpaced the competition!
The new voyage crew for the Eden to Sydney trip were on the wharf bright and early Monday morning ready to go. After a wet and windy weekend, Monday was sunny and mostly calm.
Voyage crew training got underway immediately, both while alongside and later in the morning when at anchor in Twofold Bay.There was some urgency with the crew training as Captain John Dikkenberg hoped to get the ship to sea that afternoon to take advantage of the southerly breeze before a northerly change that was expected – correctly – to come through today.
We were not in Twofold Bay for long – after lunch the anchor was recovered and we left the bay, loosing and setting sail as we went. The southerly allowed us to set a course slightly east of north – heading back towards Sydney while staying well clear of the coast.
Just outside Twofold Bay, we saw two humpback whales off our starboard bow – one waving its enormous tail flukes at intervals for several minutes as we drew closer, passing with two or three hundred metres of the whales.
Around dinnertime, we reefed the topsails in preparation for some expected strong winds overnight. While the main topsail was being reefed during the second dog watch (1800-2000 hours), the wind was light and the ship was travelling very slowly. A juvenile Australian sea lion popped up alongside the ship and took a good look at us! We were moving slowly enough that it had time to lazily swim back and forth along the port side, popping up regularly to look at people on the deck.
The strong winds we’d prepared for didn’t eventuate but the wind did shift so the square sails were handed and engines started at 2000 hours on Monday night.
After motoring north into light winds overnight, a slight wind shift and the approaching day allowed us to set square sails again on Tuesday morning. We headed offshore, slightly north of east, until mid-afternoon.
At 1400 hours, we wore ship onto our current starboard tack and turned towards land. We may not make a great deal of ground to the north but hopefully won’t lose much to the south either. If the wind shifts to the south as predicted tomorrow, we should be in a good position to sail north for Sydney. That’s the plan – weather dependent as always!
There was one other rather unusual element to our day today. As most Australians will know, the first Tuesday in November is the day of the horserace that stops a nation: the Melbourne Cup. While it couldn’t stop Endeavour, it did manage to stop our crew.
Despite being fifty nautical miles off the coast, we were able to get radio reception on deck and most of the crew gathered to hear the race. Our steward Eden organised a sweepstakes and most people had one or two tickets. In the end we had one winner from each of the three watches.
It was quite a sight, seeing most of the crew of a 19th century replica tall ship gathered around to hear a horse race on the radio, with no land in sight.
– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth