Day 3: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

Wednesday 10 September 2014, 2000 hours (8pm)

Hours under sail: 10

Distance travelled over ground: 34 miles

Wednesday on the Hawkesbury River dawned very differently to Tuesday – instead of sunshine we had soaking rain as the crew of HMB Endeavour replica weighed anchor at 6am and prepared to go to sea.

The rain eased mid-morning and the sun emerged as we sailed east with courses and reefed topsails set, as well as the fore- and main-topmast staysails.

Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

We were straight into sea routine – that is, the fore, main and mizzen watches began their rotations of four hour watches (or two hour watches in the case of the ‘dog watches’ from 1600-1800 and 1800-2000 hours).

While there is always one ‘duty watch’ which is responsible for providing crew to helm the ship and keep lookout, often the other watches will be required on deck to assist with sail handling.

HMB Endeavour's spritsail. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour‘s spritsail. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

This trip, the watches include our two botanists. Now that the botanical part of the voyage is complete, Trevor and Matt are joining in with the other voyage crew in sail handling and watches.

I had a chat to Matt over lunch as we were both on galley duty and he’s quite delighted to get a chance to go sailing – a bit of change from his usual working week at the Botanic Gardens. He hasn’t had a chance to spend much time in the rigging yet and can’t wait to do so!

During the morning watch we also set the spritsail, a square sail which drops from the spritsail yard slung beneath the bowsprit. The spritsails are rarely seen on more modern square rigged vessels, but Endeavour carries two.

The spritsails when set can reduce visibility quite substantially – they are sometimes known as blinds because they ‘blind’ the lookouts posted to the bow.

The original Endeavour would likely have posted lookouts further forward on the jibboom – Endeavour replica sometimes does the same when it is necessary and safe to do so. We have the added advantage of modern radar to help us keep an eye on any vessels or landforms nearby.

Endeavour's sails in the moonlight. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour‘s sails in the moonlight. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

With light southerly breezes and very little swell, it’s been a wonderful day at sea and only two of the voyage crew have been seasick. The winds are expected to remain gentle through the night.

We’re hoping for more southerly wind tomorrow to help us head to Newcastle, as we are currently 11 miles off Narrabeen, which is around 55 miles south of our destination.

At 2000 hours, the full moon is casting a bright path across the ocean to our starboard quarter. All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 2: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

Tuesday 9 September 2014

It was a glorious day on the Hawkesbury River today – perfect for voyage crew and the two botanists to head ashore in Refuge Bay to collect samples of native vegetation.

Endeavour crew land at Rescue Beach. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Endeavour crew land at the second collection site, Rescue Beach. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

The ship’s fast rescue boat dropped the botanists and voyage crew onto a rocky stretch of coastline initially. This first site was predominantly riverine sheoak forest.

Voyage crew and botanists collecting samples above Refuge Beach. Photo by Matt Renner.

Collecting samples ashore. Photo by Matt Renner.

At this site the team collected the ‘infructescence’, or fruits, of Xanthorrhoea sp. The botanists have a permit to collect specimens of Xanthorrhoea, which was locally dominant in the understory at that site.

‘We needed to collect the full infructescence’if we are to fully understand the characteristics of this plant, particularly the seed structure,’ botanist Dr Trevor Wilson said.

‘The vegetation above Refuge Beach was more eucalypt dominated woodland, with some rainforest species around the waterfall,’ botanist Dr Matt Renner said.

‘At both sites there was lots of early spring colour – native wildflowers are in bloom, such as boronia, which we saw flowering in their wild state just as they would flower in your garden,’ Matt said.

Voyage crew and botanists record data along Refuge Bay. Photo by Matt Renner.

Voyage crew and botanists record data along Refuge Bay. Photo by Matt Renner.

‘So we collected plenty of specimens that were in flower.’

Back on ship, the voyage crew helped press the plants that they had collected – effectively contributing to a specimen that would remain in the National Herbarium of New South Wales for years to come.

Pressing plant specimens aboard HMB Endeavour. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Pressing plant specimens aboard HMB Endeavour. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

The seed collected will go in PlantBank, the seed bank at the Mount Annan site of the Royal Botanic Gardens.At the end of a busy and unusually shore-based day for the crew of HMB Endeavour, we’ve remained at anchor and will set sail early in the morning for Newcastle.

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 1: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

Monday 8 September 2014

At 8am on Monday morning, 16 new HMB Endeavour crew members were waiting on the wharf – voyage crew, supernumeraries and two botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Thankfully some of the fog captured by the Sydney Morning Herald photographer had faded by then!

The botanists, Dr Trevor Wilson and Dr Matt Renner, are with us as part of the voyage crew but are also on board to provide their expertise in explaining some of the vegetation in the Pittwater area of the lower Hawkesbury River.

Motoring into Broken  Bay. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Motoring into Broken Bay. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

As soon as Endeavour‘s new crew were aboard, the priority was to head north towards Pittwater in preparation for the second day of the voyage, which would be spent ashore gathering plant specimens. With light northerlies forecast, we set off from Sydney Harbour under engines.

While motoring up the coast, the three watches undertook training rotations including climbing, line handling and a ship’s tour. This is the first stage of vessel familiarisation for voyage crew, in preparation for the anticipated sail to Newcastle later in the week.

After our difficulties with the ship’s smaller stream anchor in Broken Bay during last week’s voyage, we dropped the large bower anchor straight away and were comfortably at anchor by the time the nearly-full moon rose later in the evening.

Through the hawse pipe - the ship's anchor cable. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Through the hawse pipe – the ship’s anchor cable. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

After dinner, the botanists gave a presentation about the vegetation that we could expect when going ashore the next day.

As Trevor explained, one of the exciting things about going ashore along the Hawkesbury River is that you might just find a plant species that hasn’t previously been collected or identified.

‘People tend to think all plant species have been described already, but that’s not the case at all,’ Trevor said.

‘The Sydney Basin is hugely diverse, and going to places where people haven’t collected in the past can provide the opportunity to find something new.’

‘The material collected during the voyage will be held at the National Herbarium of New South Wales indefinitely,’ Matt said. ‘So it will be available for other researchers to access in the future.’

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Botany Basics 101: with Dr Matt Renner & Dr Trevor Wilson


Dr Matt Renner and Dr Trevor Wilson

The HMB Endeavour team has partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney to bring you our first themed voyage, Botany Basics, which sets sail on 8 – 12 September.

Sailing from Sydney to Newcastle via Pittwater, this special botany themed voyage features two very special guests from the Gardens, Dr Matt Renner and Dr Trevor Wilson.

Dr Renner and Dr Wilson kindly sat with us to tell us what they were most looking forward to about their maiden voyage. Continue reading

Overnight Experience 2 – Joseph Banks’ Adventures in Botany 3rd/4th April 2010

Captain’s Log

Port Jackson (Sydney) overnight: 03/04/2010-04/04/2010

Weather S/SE 10-15 knots

1000hrs departed North Wharf at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

As predicted the wind was S/SE. This gave us the opportunity to unfurl the necessary sails as we were underway with our iron staysails (motors) down-stream towards the heads of Port Jackson. The vessel was turned about in Watson’s Bay enabling us to have the wind mostly abaft the beam and we proceeded to set our fore topmast staysail, fore course, mizzen stay sail and one of our largest sails, our main topsail. As we left Watson’s Bay we braced on a sharp port tack and sailed upstream towards the Harbour Bridge with a boat speed of 3-4 knots, unfortunately with considerable lee-way. We managed to hold onto our sails until the bridge where sails were handed and we motored back to our mooring in Athol Bight at 1800hrs, just in time for a couple of rain squalls!

After squaring away the vessel (coiling lines and putting things back in order) and furling the remaining sails the crew were slightly damp but still in good cheer. By this stage all of the voyage crew were listening intently to our guest speakers from the Botanic Gardens. The vessel was well secured with a double bridle attached to the mooring.

Endeavour’s lines were slipped at 0900hrs and we proceeded back to the Australian National Maritime Museum by 1000hrs.

Yours aye,
Capt Ross Mattson

Ship’s Steward Log

We met our new voyage crew on North Wharf at the museum where they were assigned to one of three watches. As the voyage crew and their topmen came on board, they were quickly shown where to stow their gear with everyone ready for a safety briefing from first mate Ben as we left the wharf at 1520.

We had lots of help throughout the afternoon from the voyage crew, hauling on lines as we braced the yards and helping out on the helm, even with the rain coming and going just enough to make everything wet and cold!

Hauling on Lines

On Bow Lookout

Having reached Watsons Bay, we turned back and finally arrived at our mooring in Athol Bight.  The voyage crew were then able to take refuge on the mess deck for the first talk from one of two guest speakers from the Royal Botanic Gardens. Catherine Wardrop, a botanical illustrator, spoke about the skill and detail involved when recording botanical specimens and the work done by Sydney Parkinson, one of the artists on Cook’s Endeavour. She also discussed the publication of ‘The Florilegium’ of Cook, Banks and Parkinson, a portfolio of botanical illustrations from the Endeavour voyage.

Detailed work of botantical illustrator, Catherine Wardrop

Dinner was another spectacular affair from catering officer Abi and cook’s mate Jade. With more platters of 18th century-inspired food and a scrumptious pork roast!

As the plates were cleared from the mess tables the voyage crew heard a great cheer from the deck below. The professional crew came rushing up as they’d heard it was time for their ‘pay’. In the past on Royal Navy vessels, it was traditional that the crew would be issued a tot of rum. Our modern crew were forced to balance their tot in soup spoons until the last was handed around…then there was a cry of ‘Huzzah’ as all the rum was downed!

After dinner, the mess deck was again hushed as the crew heard from the second speaker of the night, Dr Brett Summerell. He spoke of the discoveries Banks made in the Botany Bay area and the methods he employed to preserve and carry home specimens for further study.

With the rain still falling up on deck the crew slung the hammocks. The voyage crew questioned their topmen and upperyardies about the likelihood of falling out! Needless to say they were all safe and secure in their hammocks by ‘quiet ship’ at 2300.

As the day dawned clear and fresh, many of the passengers had already roused from their slumber. The change from daylight saving had luckily given everyone an extra hour of sleep!

Breakfast was called at 0730 with the crew choosing to eat either in the 20th century mess down below or up on deck in the fresh air. We then left our mooring and headed back towards the museum. As we motored past Fort Denison we were all treated to a beautiful rainbow which landed in the Botanic Gardens, it’s pot of golden Easter eggs just out of reach!

Homeward Bound

We came into Darling Harbour just as another shower of rain fell and we disembarked slightly bedraggled and damp but not without smiles on our faces!

All’s well.

Ship’s Steward Kat Lindsay