A dog’s life at sea

ANMM Collection Crew of the SS Stratherry and their pets.

ANMM Collection
Crew of the SS Stratherry and their pets.

Although the sailor, while at sea, is obliged to do without nearly all of the home attractions which even the poorest landsmen indulge in, he is allowed to cultivate to a limited extent his fondness for domestic pets…It affords him deep pleasure to hold in his loving though rough embrace the innocent creature who either by a cheerful wag of the tail or a responsive purr assures him that his attentions are appreciated…
(New York Times – November 2, 1884)

We love them. Their loyalty, good humour and appreciation for simple pleasures—dogs are quite simply the ultimate companion. And for hundreds of years, sea farers have also thought so. Other pets such as monkeys, cats, birds and even goats may have their place, but dogs and boats are truly a match made in maritime heaven.

ANMM Collection A crew member of the steamer SS SUEVIC

ANMM Collection
A crew member of the steamer SS SUEVIC

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

The museum has many photos capturing the unique friendship between sailors and their dogs. Whether it be captains, crew, cooks, explorers or passengers, dogs were never far away. Although the life these ship-board dogs led may not have involved parks or yards, their small on-board world was one filled with affection, attention and camaraderie. They were a welcome relief from the monotony and tension of sea life, and despite their earlier uses as ratters, it was their endearing nature that has kept them happily afloat.

History has also proven that no matter what the maritime triumph or disaster, dogs could be found on board. From the sinking of Henry VIII’s ship the Mary Rose, the Titanic and even HMAS Sydney, dogs were on board and suffered the same conditions and fate as the ship’s crew.

ANMM Collection Crew and dog aboard the Discovery on their way to  in 1901.

ANMM Collection
Crew and dog aboard the Discovery on their way to Antarctica in 1901.

Crew of the submarine HM Ursula and their dog Peter, 1943. (Wikimedia)

Crew of the submarine HM Ursula and their dog Peter, 1943.

Incredibly dogs were also kept on board some submarines. Surely a less dog-friendly environment would be hard to think of. There is a story of one such dog called Garbo who lived aboard the USS GAR. One crew member recalls:

“Under the heaviest depth charge attacks, when the gauges were leaking, light bulbs breaking, and fires breaking out, Garbo remained as playful as ever. Bunn said, “She should have gotten a medal for keeping our spirits and morale up when we needed it most.”

Whilst they were commonly known as mascots, dogs proved to be so much more. They provided comfort and courage, loyalty and affection, and a chance for crew to be human in circumstances that often asked them to forget their humanity.

- Myffanwy Bryant, Curatorial Assistant


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Who said sand paper was dull?

In 2012 the museum acquired a vast collection of negatives of Australian commercial photographer Gervais Purcell (1919-1999). Purcell worked for a variety of clients such as David Jones, P&O, Ansett Australia, Jantzen and many others.


ANMM Collection

In the past few months, I have been cataloguing his ‘swimwear’ work that mainly contains negatives of models wearing swim and beach wear shot in studio settings, beaches and other outdoor locations during the 1940 – 1960 period.


ANMM Collection

Through these photographs I have witnessed the evolution of swimwear styles, starting with the fairly conservative 1940s one piece.


With fabric shortages during the war time, the US Government issued the L-85 order that basically made smaller swimming suits patriotic. Manufacturers in countries like Australia followed suit introducing the cut outs in midriff and bikinis.

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As the swimwear evolved, so did advertising. In the 1950s, ‘Golden Era’ of Cinematography and ‘Golden Age’ of Television, advertising became even prominent and daring.
Informed by market studies, agencies started positioning their ads to address the perceived consumer needs of safety, belonging and success. They also capitalised on featuring scantily-clad young ladies, which noticeably improved ad content and sales scores.

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

I can just imagine the people at the 3M abrasives and sandpaper company branch, looking for ways to make their abrasive paper products look sexy and appealing to the masses. What a better way than ask Gervais to take two bikini beauties to a lovely beach and make them interact with… yes, sheets and disks of sand paper!

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And didn’t they do a fantastic job? I’m not sure if the masses were running to their nearest hardware shop to get their hands on a box of sand paper, but what I can see is the models and perhaps, even Gervais, having a giggle at the crazy ways to accommodate abrasive material into a perfect beach scene!

Geoffrey Ross is wild about whales

We recently announced that HMB Endeavour will have a very special guest on board when she sails from Sydney to Eden on 27–31 October.

Whale expert, Geoffrey Ross, from New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, will be joining the HMB Endeavour crew on the special whale-themed voyage. We sat with Geoff to find out what he was most looking forward to on this very special, one-off trip.

Whale expert Geoff Ross

Whale expert Geoff Ross. Credit: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

What you are most looking forward to on your voyage?

I am looking forward to seeing whales and other marine life in its true place and to work with our on-board ‘students of nature’ and crew alike to learn more about these spectacular animals.  

Like Banks and Solander before their epic trip, I too am looking forward to a voyage of discovery sailing on one of the most distinguished and best known sailing ships in the world. [I'd like] to see pods of whales as described by Joseph Banks in his journals and to record their presence in our logs and pass this information onto other scientists and the community.

How do you conduct the whale count and how important is it to conservation?

On the voyage we will be keeping watch for the blows of whales, we will record what species we see, where they are seen, their abundance and their behaviour. We’ll be keeping a special lookout for Sperm Whales and other large whale species.  

We still know very little about what species occur off our shores and in what numbers. This voyage will help us get some understanding of the occurrence of whale species in State and Commonwealth waters off NSW, and provide us with the opportunity to describe their presence and behaviour to the public in real time using our Australian National Maritime Museum and Wild about Whales websites.

At the end of the voyage we will collate the data and send the sightings to the Australian Antarctic Division for inclusion into their national database.

How many species of whales would you expect to see on the voyage?

That’s part of the fascination. Everything we see will be exciting. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with cetaceans or how close you’ve been to them or how commonly you have seen them, it’s always exciting. You never know, you may see a Blue Whale, the largest creature ever to be seen on this planet, or you might observe dolphins playing in the ship’s wake; whatever we see will be interesting.  

Of the large whales, I’d predict that we’ll see Humpback Whales, which are currently making their way toward the Great Southern Ocean, Minke Whales, maybe a Broodes or Sei whale… perhaps even Orca. Anything’s possible on a voyage such as this!

Humpback whale near Eden

Humpback whale near Eden. Credit: Eden Whale Festival

We still have spots left on the Sydney to Eden voyage as well as the return Eden to Sydney Voyage (3–7 November). You can also join the fun at the Eden Whale Festival (1–2 November) where HMB Endeavour will be a major attraction. No previous sailing experience is needed as you’ll receive hands-on training on how to sail the 44-metre ship.

Voyage crew will be assigned duties and learn how to set and take in sail, steer the ship, keep watch and climb aloft—all under the guidance of the Master and his professional crew of 16. For more information or to book your place, go to Endeavour Voyages.

To learn more about the whale migration, visit Wild About Whales.

HMB Endeavour returning to Sydney after a voyage.

HMB Endeavour returning to Sydney after a voyage. Credit John Vaughan.


4 x 18 = 72

Simple stuff: 4 x 18 feet = 72 feet.

72 feet x 1/3.281 = about 22 metres (in French).

But if you put the four 18-foot skiffs currently on display at the museum in a line, their long bowsprits and booms make the line closer to 120 feet or 37 metres long. Imagine this impressive sight as their big rigs tower over the 5.5-metre long hulls.

Enough maths! In a rare opportunity, the museum has four classic 18s on display at once. Britannia, Yendys and Taipan have been visited by the replica of Myra Too, the quartet covering a wide section of the 18-foot skiffs’ colourful class history.

Britannia on Sydney Harbour during the1920s

Britannia – William Hall Collection – ANMM

Britannia makes a terrific starting point. It has a big eight-foot (2.45-metre) wide hull, seam batten planked in Queensland cedar, strong thwarts and tabernacle—everything that these mighty craft began with in the 1890s as open boats racing with Mark Foy’s Sydney Flying Squadron. It was built in 1919 by the legendary ‘Wee Georgie’ Robinson. ‘Wee Georgie’ and his team from Balmain raced Britannia hard and its career spanned the next few generations of gradual developments until it retired after World War II. In that time it carried one of the largest rigs ever put on an 18. That rig was rebuilt when the vessel was restored in the late 1980s and is how it is displayed in the Watermarks exhibition at the museum.

As we walk into the Wharf 7 foyer, on our right is Sydney Heritage Fleet’s Yendys. A rival of Britannia, Yendys was built in 1925 by Charlie Hayes for Norm Blackman. This big hull is also built in the traditional heavy scantlings, but it illustrates an early piece of innovation, its transom bow. Hayes had another legend working for him at the time, Charlie Peel, who had been successful with transom bows on 14-foot skiffs in Victoria. As well, the 1920s was the time when the Restricted 21s showed how fast a lighter-keel boat could go, and Hayes and Peel were in the thick of this class too. Out comes Yendys, with its sawn-off profile and veed bow shapes, a sort of restricted-class yacht crossed with a skiff and with the bow overhang squared off. Despite the odd mix it went pretty well too, but although another two snub-nosers were built in that time, the idea did not catch on. It did show there was room to move in the rules, though, and the Queenslanders took on both innovation and the establishment at the same time.

Yendys with all sails set

Yendys – William Hall Collection – ANMM

The 1930s ‘galloping ghost’ from Queensland, Aberdare, was a narrow seven-foot (2.15 metre) beamer that won many races and championships. It was so unpopular with traditional sailors that two new clubs were set up that allowed seven-foot beamers to race – the New South Wales 18-Foot Sailing League and the Brisbane 18-Foot Sailing Club – and the politics spawned by that divide raged on for decades.

Six feet (1.83 metres) became the new seven feet in the 1940s. Sailing in the 1951 season, Billy Barnett and Myra Too from the Sydney Flying Squadron won everything – states, nationals, worlds – the lot. The Myra Too replica, sitting on its rigging cradle on the Wharf 7 floor, and built a little differently from the original, is still a showcase of how the lighter construction had taken hold of the class post-war, finally shutting the door to the big-boat era of Britannia and Yendys.

The new boats were planing, the crew were swinging out on trapezes, and just when they thought they were the bees’ knees of skiff and dinghy sailing, along came Bob Miller and the plywood Taipan in 1959. This was another Queensland revolution that caused heartache and resistance in New South Wales but became the origins of today’s flyers. Here it is, elevated for all to see the end plates and fences on the appendages – the things that led Bob Miller, who had by then changed his name to Ben Lexcen, to the controversial features on Australia II that ultimately helped snare yachting’s greatest trophy, the America’s Cup, in 1983. Taipan was rebuilt in 2007 to its 1959 configuration that caused as much local stir in its own time, even though it only won a few races and had many gear failures. When it worked, it often won with big margins. Taipan had the speed and performance that the crews wanted, and they never looked back.

Taipan during the 1960 world championships in Auckland

Taipan – Courtesy Robin Elliot

To complete this, but not on display, the ANMM collection also has a 1970s Bruce Farr design, KB, the type that bedded down the three-hander, and then Colorbond, from 1985/86, a showcase of where it all went ballistic. Getting back to numbers here, the 18-foot skiffs sported bowsprits and extensions that made them around 40 feet (12 metres) long and more than 20 feet (six metres) wide and enabled them to do powerboat speeds on the harbour—and the cost of all this yearly high-tech building spree finally blew the lid on development in the class.

The skiffs on display are three survivors rebuilt to their former glory and a fourth built as a replica to race on and carry the heritage of the class into the future. Did the four skiffs on display ever sail on the harbour together? Not likely, but in a lovely moment captured on film, we have the original Myra Too running downwind to eventually pass the seven-foot beamer Jantzen Girl that’s just in front, and there off to the side is a little motor launch with a mast­—it looks like it could be Britannia which was converted by ‘Wee Georgie’ to be the club’s starting boat—and it’s trying hard on one cylinder to keep up with progress.

Myra Too at sea

Myra Too – Bill Barnett Collection – ANMM

 – David Payne

Curator, Historic Vessels

Gamifying the museum: The Voyage

The VoyageThere is a growing interest in many parts of the world in utilising the capacities and affordances of digital games to support learning within the formal arenas of curriculum and school. The use of games-based pedagogies via online and mobile Internet-based technologies is seen as providing much potential for innovative, effective and accessible contemporary teaching and learning (Beavis, 2012; Beavis, et al, 2014), as well as a new way for museums to engage with their educational audiences (Kelly, 2013). The museum in partnership with roar film (Tasmania), Screen Australia and Screen Tasmania have developed an educational game, The Voyage, based on the nineteenth century convict experience. The Voyage takes the user on a journey from London to Van Diemen’s Land (now known as Tasmania) where players, as the ship’s Surgeon Superintendent, are rewarded for the number of healthy convicts they deliver to the fledging British colony. The game is based on detailed historical data, utilising documented ship paths, convict and medical records and diaries.

As part of the development of the game, the museum has partnered with academics Professor Catherine Beavis and Dr Leonie Rowan, Griffith University, and Dr Joanne O’Mara, Deakin University, to undertake research into games and museum educational pedagogy. I am presenting the first (of many) papers reporting on this work at the Museums and the Web Asia 2014 conference in October.

A pdf copy of the paper can be downloaded here: Gamifying the museum BEAVIS et al 2014 PAPER

Watch this space for more!


  • Beavis, C. (2012). Critical perspectives, enabling classrooms and digital games: challenges for teachers an researchers working with games-based learning. In Biswas, G., et al. (Eds) Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Computers in Education. Singapore: Asia-Pacific Society of Computers in Education.
  • Beavis, C., Muspratt, S. and Thompson, R. (2014) ‘Computer games can get your brain working’: student experience and perception of digital games in the classroom. Learning Media and Technology.
  • Kelly, L. (2013). The Connected Museum in the World of Social Media. In Drotner, K. and Schroder, K. (Eds) Museum Communication and Social Media: The connected museum (pp. 54-71). Routledge: London.

A family affair: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney, day 5

Sunday 21 September 2014, 1600

HMB Endeavour replica is now back alongside at the Australian National Maritime Museum, concluding the series of three September voyages.

After our lovely evening on Saturday in Broken Bay with Dr Fred Watson, we weighed anchor at 0530 this morning to return to Sydney – under engines due to the southerly breeze.

This voyage something rather unique has happened. We occasionally have a couple come aboard Endeavour for a particular voyage, or perhaps two people who are related in some other way. This trip, there were no less than three sets of family groups – one in each of the three watches, foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast.

The dynamic of each watch was a little different than usual – the presence of two or three people who already know one another so well helps the watch click as a team faster than it otherwise might.

Father and son team Dick and Charles Pearce. Photo: SMM.

Father and son team Dick and Charles Pearse. Photo: SMM.

In foremast watch, father and son team Richard (Dick) and Charles Pearse joined the Endeavour crew for a few different reasons. They both sail Endeavour class yachts – Dick bought an Endeavour 24 when Charles was 11 years old and they went on to race and win at state and national level.

They also have a particular interest in Captain Cook. Charles remembers the two hundredth anniversary of Cook’s arrival in Botany Bay – it was Charles’ sixth birthday on the day of the celebrations and he’s been interested in Cook ever since. Dick is also a bit of an expert on Cook’s sailing logs and both were interested in the celestial navigation element of the voyage.

At 82, Dick is delighted with the experience he had on board, which included sail handling, standing watches and climbing the rig – all the elements of square rig sailing.

Beth Higgs with son Kristian. Photo: SMM.

Beth Higgs with son Kristian. Photo: SMM.

Beth Higgs and her teenage son Kristian were part of mainmast watch, so I got to know them both very well during the five days of the voyage. Beth is a mariner by trade, holding both watchkeeping and maritime engineering tickets.

Like the Pearses, Beth was particularly interested in the celestial navigation element of this voyage. Beth and Kristian both took noon sights and calculated the ship’s latitude.

Kristian already has a great deal of experience on the water for a teenager, but neither he nor Beth had sailed a square rigged ship before so this was a new experience. Beth is keen to get more experience sailing square riggers from here on.

Will, Rachael and Ken Honeysett. Photo: SMM.

Will, Rachael and Ken Honeysett. Photo: SMM.

Ken Honeysett decided he was interested in sailing on Endeavour and why not bring the kids? His two adult children, Rachael and Will, were keen to accompany Ken on board. Rachael and Will are students at the University of Wollongong.

Ken said that he saw Endeavour as a great opportunity – not just for the experience but also for a chance to spend some quality time with his children and for them all to experience the teamwork required to sail an 18th century square rig vessel.

Will described the last few days as an ‘all-encompassing voyage of adventure’. Sailing on Endeavour has well and truly created an interest in tall ships for Will and he says he’s planning to sign up to volunteer with the Sydney Heritage Fleet.

Rachael had been nervous about getting seasick but didn’t feel nauseous at all. She was signed on as a supernumerary and she’s correct when she says she had the best cabin on the ship – Joseph Banks’ cabin.

Endeavour returns to Sydney. Photo: EAP.

Endeavour returns to Sydney. Photo: EAP.

What’s next?

That’s all from the Endeavour crew for a little while now as the ship will be back alongside at the Maritime Museum until late October.

But please join us – either in person or by following this blog – for the voyage to Eden (27-31 October 2014) and the return Eden to Sydney trip (3-7 November 2014). We’ll have a whale expert on board, will take part in the national whale count and expect to fully enjoy the Eden whale festival!

Until then, fair winds.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Celestial navigation and astronomy: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney, day 3-4

Noon sights and calculating latitude

In clear conditions with minimal swell, day 3 of HMB Endeavour replica’s voyage was perfect for using sextants to measure the angle of the sun at its zenith.

Voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the waist of the ship at 1115 to practice using sextants. The sun’s highest point – known as Meridian Passage – would be at 1145, not noon, due to the time of year and the ship’s longitude.

Third mate Penny and supernumerary Bill measure the angle of the sun at its zenith. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter.

Third mate Penny and supernumerary Bill measure the angle of the sun at its zenith. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter.

One of our supernumeraries, Bill Morris, ran this session along with Penny, the third mate. Bill is an expert on sextants – he has collected 65 nautical sextants and is the author of The Nautical Sextant. His interest in navigation began at a young age.

‘I bought a book called Teach Yourself Navigation when I was about 14,’ Bill said. ‘I had no sextant and no horizon but I taught myself the rudiments of coastal navigation.’

Sextant. Photo: EAP.

Sextant. Photo: EAP.

The specific interest in sextants arose when he and his wife visited the Maritime Museum in London on their honeymoon. He didn’t really get to indulge this interest until he retired, many years later and then living in New Zealand. He has since started to collect and repair broken sextants.

Bill crossed the Pacific on a container ship, the Natalie Schulte last year – a 19-day passage from Auckland, NZ to Oakland, USA. During the voyage he took several sights on celestial bodies each day to determine the ship’s latitude.

After lunch on day 3, Bill and the other interested voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the Great Cabin to do the calculations required to determine the ship’s latitude.

Calculating latitude in Endeavour's Great Ccabin.

Calculating latitude in Endeavour‘s Great Ccabin. Photo: SMM.

There’s something very special about gathering in the Great Cabin to do this kind of work. Spangled reflections from the sea played across the bulkhead from the great windows in the stern as Penny explained the process of calculating the latitude.

At a table just like this one, in a Great Cabin just like that of the Endeavour replica’s Great Cabin, Cook would have followed similar calculations and would have worked on the detailed charts of Australia’s east coast.


Calculating latitude. Photo: SMM.

At that time, there would have been little margin for error as there were no pre-existing charts to work from and no other way of working out the ship’s position.

Keen to repeat their successes of the previous day, some of the voyage crew gathered again on day 4 to measure the altitude of the sun – this time at 1146 and 44 seconds. The sun’s highest point is a little later each day as it moves north until the summer solstice on December 21.

With a little more swell running on day 4, Endeavour was not quite the stable platform that she had been on day 3. My calculated latitude was out by more than I care to admit, but Bill’s calculated latitude was within three miles of our GPS position.

Day 4 at sea

Overnight on Friday (day 3) the ship gained ground to the south under engines, taking us past Pittwater. With the strong southerly breeze, we were able to turn around and go sailing on Saturday morning – just for fun!

Furling the forecourse. Photo: EAP.

Furling the forecourse. Photo: EAP.

We began furling* sails around 1500 while sailing towards the entrance of Broken Bay. Furling continued once the rest of the sails were handed and we were waiting for Fred Watson AM and his partner and colleague Marni to arrive in the ship’s seaboat for the evening’s astronomy talk.

HMB Endeavour dropped anchor at 1700 in Broken Bay and we prepared for the last evening of the voyage.


The highlights of the evening were two sessions delivered by Fred about what we could see in the night sky. In the first, the sun had just set and Marni kept a keen eye out for the first star of the evening, Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigal Kentaurus), which is one of the two pointers to the Southern Cross.

Observing Saturn from the deck of Endeavour. Photo: EAP.

Observing Saturn from the deck of Endeavour. Photo: EAP.

Telescopes were set up to have a closer look at Saturn – thankfully there was no wind so the anchorage was very calm and the ship was a stable base for using a telescope.

After dinner, voyage crew returned to the deck with Fred to look at the after-dark night sky – including the Southern Cross, sitting low to the horizon at this time of year.

All’s well.

*Furling is the process of rolling or gathering a sail and securing it with gaskets (lengths of line) so that the sail does not flap in the wind.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 2-3: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney; sailing to windward

Friday 19 September 2014, 2000 hours

Hours under sail since Thursday 0800: 23

Hours under engines since Thursday 0800: 13

Distance travelled over ground: 100 nautical miles

HMB Endeavour replica left Port Stephens early on Thursday 18 September, weighing anchor at 0530 and motoring out of the heads. On the open ocean, all hands were called to set sail and we headed southeast on a light sou’westerly breeze.

Foremast watch learns about staysails with the aid of Topman Eddie’s chalk diagrams on deck. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter

Foremast watch learns about staysails with the aid of Topman Eddie’s chalk diagrams on deck.
Photo: Eden Alley-Porter

Over the course of the day we tracked around 15 nautical miles south before the wind shifted and we began to lose ground to the north while continuing to head further offshore than planned.

We wore ship at 1800 hours and sailed west, steering as close to the wind as possible in the hope of gaining some ground to the south.

Around 2200 hours, the wind began to back, shifting further into the west as a land breeze influenced the southerlies. Endeavour’s course was soon northwest.

Spritsails set on Endeavour. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour spritsails set. Photo: SMM.

The flukey breezes led the Captain to decide that now would be a good time to hand sail and make some ground to the south under engines.

During 15 hours under sail on day 2 of the voyage, we covered 50 nautical miles, but also lost most of the ground we had gained to the south earlier in the day.

The difficulty of sailing the ship to windward always leads to the inevitable question: how on earth did Captain James Cook manage to sail her to windward?

Cook faced much the same problem sailing to windward as we do on Endeavour today. With more experienced hands and a larger crew, he may have been able to gain a little more ground to windward with careful trimming of the sails, but it would not have been substantial.

Cook’s key advantage was time: if needed, he could beat back and forth across a headwind until the wind shifted enough for him to gain the ground he needed.

Unfortunately the modern day Endeavour does not have this luxury – we have a schedule to stick to and thus engines must sometimes be called on to enable us to reach our destination on time. In this case, the destination is Pittwater to meet Fred Watson at 4pm on Saturday afternoon.

Despite our deadlines, the priority is of course to sail as much as possible, so after a night under engines we set sail again early on Friday morning.

IMG_2101 sunset sm

Calm seas and colourful skies: day 3 draws to a close. Photo by EAP.

In light breezes, more sail was loosed – the topgallants on both masts and the sprit topsail were shaken out of their furls and set. With a little more west in the wind we were able to sail southeast for most of the day.

By early evening the wind had dropped dramatically and once again Endeavour was unable to make ground to the south, so sails were handed and the ship settled in for another night under engines.

The hope is that we’ll gain substantial ground to the south overnight, enabling some good sailing on Saturday towards Broken Bay.

All’s well.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 1: Newcastle to Sydney

Wednesday 17 September 2014, 2000 hours

A new crew has joined the HMB Endeavour replica and are settling into the hammocks that will be their place of rest for the next four nights aboard. Welcoming a new crew aboard is always exciting and this morning in Newcastle was no exception.

We departed Queen’s Wharf at 0900 and headed north for Port Stephens under engines while the 24 new voyage crew and supernumeraries underwent training and ship familiarisation.

Through the heads into  Port Stephens. Photo: Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Through the heads past Mount Yakaba into Port Stephens. Photo: Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

The most hotly anticipated part of the training is usually climbing aloft, and today was no exception. I get the feeling we have a bunch of keen climbers aboard for this voyage – many of the new crew were all smiles by the time they returned to the deck after their first introductory climb.

Voyage crew member Rachel descends from her first climb in Endeavour's rigging. Photo: SMM.

Supernumerary Rachael descends from her first climb in Endeavour’s rigging. Photo: SMM.

One group finished their climbing once we were at anchor in Port Stephens, with the sun beginning to glow orange as it set in the west.

The landscape around our anchorage tonight is, once again, quite spectacular, though not nearly as remote as the coast around Broken Bay where we anchored on the previous voyage.

Although Port Stephens is lovely, it’s a challenging place for a ship of Endeavour’s size to enter due to the narrow entrance and shallow waters in places once inside the heads. Captain Cook named Port Stephens when he sailed by on 11 May 1770, but did not enter the bay itself.

We will stay here overnight before heading to sea tomorrow for two nights. The voyage crew will have many more opportunities to go aloft in the coming days to loose and furl sails.

Two of the climbers who came down from the rigging delighted with their first experience aloft were Beth and Kristian, a mother-and-son team from Newcastle. Beth is a mariner by trade and an experienced yacht sailor, but has never sailed on a square-rigged sailing ship.

A kayaker circles Endeavour at anchor in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Photo: SMM.

A kayaker circles Endeavour at anchor in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Photo: SMM.

Like others on the trip, Beth has come aboard both to experience sailing on Endeavour and to meet the Astronomer in Charge of the Anglo-Australian Astronomical Observatory, Fred Watson, aboard the ship on Saturday afternoon. He will lead an astronomy session that evening while we are at anchor off Pittwater.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the constellations that we can see above us on a clear night – as well as hopefully learning a little about celestial navigation, an exact science that was vital to Captain Cook’s navigation of the original Endeavour.

All’s well.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

A dazzling connection with WWI

A painted wooden waterline ship model created during WWI to test dazzle paint schemes. Imperial War Museum Collection

A painted wooden waterline ship model created during WWI to test dazzle paint schemes. Imperial War Museum Collection

On a visit to the Maritime Museum you will undoubtedly walk past the modelmakers’ bench on the way to the main displays. Many people stop and admire the painstakingly slow and intricate work of the museum’s volunteer model making crew. Seeing the process of sanding, cutting, glueing and painting ship models from scratch is a rare and wonderful experience. Their work – finished and in progress – sits on display behind the bench.

Usually, the modelmakers work on historic wooden ships – famous vessels or their own particular favourites. However at the moment you might see something a little different. During the exhibition War at Sea – The Navy in WWI some of the modelmakers are creating dazzle paint scheme waterline models of WWI ships. Continue reading