A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Sydney to Geelong. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.
Day seven, Wednesday 3 February 2016
The south westerly change came through at around 0500, and everyone had to adjust clothing to varying degrees to cope with the much cooler conditions. During the morning the wind went southerly and strengthened, increasing the effect. Wet weather gear was common on deck, not so much to keep rain off—there was very little—but to keep out the cold. Victorians shrugged their shoulders; those from north of the border grumbled about Victorian weather. Why wouldn’t they? These conditions made the Captain’s morning briefing a more challenging experience. By nightfall we could see Cape Schank as we tossed around in an increasing swell. Maybe an uncomfortable night ahead.
Amongst the ship’s complement we have three “repeat offenders” as they are sometimes called. This is Tony’s fourth voyage and Marie’s fifth. But the grandaddy of them all is Peter who has now achieved, as he puts it, “an even dozen”—a serious case of recidivism. We hope others will come back for more.
Now about those charcoal fires. James Cook acquired quite a reputation for stamping out scurvy on his ships. This disease, cause mainly by a deficiency of vitamin C, was common in sailing ships. The science of it was still not fully understood in Cook’s time, but he understood better than anyone that it could be avoided if his men ate well (his main anti-scorbutic was sauerkraut) and maintained high standards of hygiene. One part of this was to refresh the air below decks whenever possible. To assist this process charcoal fires were lit down in the holds in buckets at times when vents and ports could be opened. The heat from these fires caused the air below decks to circulate, expelling the stale air.
Day Seven question: Endeavour reach Batavia in early October 1770. This port marked a significant change in Cook’s fortunes. What was it?
– Bill Ellemor, Steward