Endeavour: Geelong to Adelaide, days 4-5

Moon at sunset. Image: Derek Ryan.

Moon at sunset, day 5. Image: Derek Ryan.

A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Geelong to Adelaide. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Friday 12 February 2016

Yesterday it was discovered that the main t’gallant sail had a badly worn earring (the eye in the corner of the bolt rope that secures the sail to its yard), so a decision was taken to bring the sail down, yard and all, to repair it on deck. This was the major activity of the morning. First mate Ant directed proceedings from his perch on the crosstrees, assisted by Bosun Matt and other professional crew at various points aloft or tending lines on the deck, to carefully lower the yard down along the port backstay. Safely on deck the sail was unbent and taken to the foredeck to be repaired by Matt and Amy.


Just before all this began, however, the PA announced a pod of pilot whales had come by for an inspection. It was a great sight for those who made it on deck in time.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, after lunch the master ordered a man overboard drill. Everyone turned to the task and 12 minutes after going over the side our dummy (a cardboard box) was plucked from the water 150 metres or so astern.

But wait, there’s more! Another discovery yesterday was that Marie’s birthday had somehow passed under our usually reliable radar, so tonight we made up for it with a birthday cake at dinner and a rousing Happy Birthday sung in typical sailor fashion. “Thank you! I’ve had the best birthday,” declared the guest of honour, “I’ll be back for my next one.” She probably will too, this being her sixth voyage.

Now to those Marquises. Two ships were provided for Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific; Cook was so convinced of the Endeavour for this type of work that he insisted they also be Whitby cats. The Marquis of Granby was renamed Resolution, while the Marquis of Rockingham was renamed Adventure. Resolution, at 462 tons, was somewhat larger than Endeavour (368); Adventure was a little smaller (340).

Today’s question: Apart from discarding ballast and some cannons, by what means did Cook lighten the Endeavour in order to float it off the reef?

Saturday 13 February 2016

Navigation lecture.

Navigation lecture.

Today Captain John began voyage lectures with an introduction to astronavigation.

Last night at sunset we had a moon for the first time on this voyage. Then for those on deck before breakfast there were a few tantalising glimpses of a whale to start the day on a friendly note. During the night a mild change had come through. To follow it around we initially sailed east for a short while, but by morning were heading steadily north, so closing on the coast again. Before long, however, we wore ship and headed south again, chasing the wind and waiting on the predicted south wester.

The change finally arrived in the early afternoon, flukey at first but then steadier, and finally the call came: “All hands on deck to wear ship.” After going south, then north, then south again, we were at last headed on more or less the desired north westerly course. Frustratingly, however, the wind did not quite suit our purpose and as we neared the coast the decision was reluctantly taken to bring the engines to life. They will take us through the night.

On the fore deck the t’gallant repair continues and the sail should be ready to send aloft later today, or tomorrow morning. Which brings me to lightening Cook’s Endeavour to enable it to be re-floated. Obviously, this was achieved to some extent by discarding heavy, indispensable stuff like pigiron ballast and some of the cannons — thanks to this we have accurate replica cannons on this ship and we carry a piece of that very pigiron. However, further inroads were made by sending down all the yards as well as the topgallant masts and topmasts. All the masts and spars, minus rigging and sails, were lashed together in the water for later retrieval, thus removing their weight from the ship.

Today’s question follows on: Once off the reef, the leak in Cook’s Endeavour held fast to its existing level. When the ship was beached what did they discover that had achieved this?

– Bill Ellemor, Steward

3 thoughts on “Endeavour: Geelong to Adelaide, days 4-5

  1. According to Banks as well as discarding balast and some (6) cannons, water from casks, decayed stores and oil jars were also jettisoned to lighten the load. He also notes that Cook ordered the men to pump the ship, take in the sails, strike the top masts and lower the boats to take soundings.

    I cannot for a moment comprehend what it must have been like to endure this as they knew that the boats could not carry them all ashore.

    Fair winds and safe seas.

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