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

Day 4-5: A Voyage on Endeavour


Early morning on the Hawkesbury River from onboard HMB Endeavour.

Early morning on the Hawkesbury River from onboard HMB Endeavour. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

On Day 4 of the HMB Endeavour replica’s first voyage of the season, we woke to a lovely sunrise on the Hawkesbury River. It was time to pick up the enormous 2.3 tonne bower anchor that we’d rigged and dropped late on day 2. Even better, it was time to go sailing!

The flukes of HMB Endeavour's 2.3 tonne bower anchor. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

The flukes of HMB Endeavour’s 2.3 tonne bower anchor. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

With the anchor safely lashed to the rail (along with a bit of that Hawkesbury River mud) we loosed sails and poked our nose outside Broken Bay late on Thursday morning. We found moderate swells and strong winds – mostly southerlies, which did not bode at all well for actual sailing back to Sydney.We had six sails set and for a while the wind looked as though it would allow us to set more, so both watches sent crew aloft to loose topsails (square sails) on the fore and main masts.However before the sails were loose and ready to be set, the wind picked up and we found ourselves re-furling the sails as quickly as possible.

Crew set sail as HMB Endeavour sails out of Broken Bay. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Crew set sail as HMB Endeavour sails out of Broken Bay. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

For those who aren’t familiar with sailing, in stronger winds a ship will carry less canvas than she would in light winds. You may have seen pictures of Endeavour with most of her sails set – this would only be the case in light winds.

In strong winds, the smaller, higher sails could be torn, carried away altogether or put too much pressure on the ship’s rigging, which could pose a hazard to the ship. In this case, with 25-30 knot winds blowing and a relatively small crew on board, we were only able to safely set a small number of sails.

Still, the few sails that we’d set were certainly enough to provide plenty of hard work furling towards the end of the day, once we’d started the engines and turned around to head back to Sydney.

Voyage crew at the helm of HMB Endeavour. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Voyage crew at the helm of HMB Endeavour. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

A few brave voyage crew joined the professional crew in the rig despite the rolling swell to bring in the ship’s two biggest square sails – the fore and main courses. It’s important the Endeavour’s sails are securely rolled up and lashed to the yard so that the sail can’t blow out and flog about in the wind.

Sydney Harbour as HMB Endeavour returns to port. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

Sydney Harbour as HMB Endeavour returns to port. Photo by Suzannah Marshall Macbeth.

The weather was against us all through the night as we motored into a headwind in order to get back to Sydney for the end of the voyage on Friday evening.We look forward to welcoming a new crew aboard Endeavour on Monday for the Botany Basics voyage to Newcastle!

All’s well.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 2-3: A Voyage on Endeavour

Wednesday 3 September 2014

HMB Endeavour

HMB Endeavour

It was a windy but bright and sunny day today on the Hawkesbury River, where HMB Endeavour replica is lying at anchor resting up after a very eventful Tuesday night. Just twenty miles north of Sydney, we are surrounded by rocky shorelines and vegetated headlands, with the town of Patonga around the bend and the rail bridge over the river just visible to the north.

Having made our way into Broken Bay past Barrenjoey Lighthouse while taking in sails and furling yesterday afternoon, we dropped anchor in the mouth of the Hawkesbury. Unfortunately, coming to anchor for the night didn’t turn out nearly as relaxing as it sounds! The expected blow accompanying a cold front from the south finally arrived and by the time dinner was over, it was clear that Endeavour’s stream anchor – our ‘small’ anchor, at 700kg – was not enough to hold the ship on the river’s muddy bottom as the wind gusted to 45 knots. Continue reading

Day 1-2 : A Voyage on Endeavour

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Our HMB Endeavour replica is back at sea again after close to a year in port. With a small group of voyage crew and one supernumerary, we went to anchor off Taronga Zoo yesterday afternoon to undertake emergency drills and initial training for the voyage crew.

From there, we had an amazing view all night of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. For an out-of-towner like me, it’s a spectacular sight.

The Sydney skyline as seen from onboard HMB Endeavour. ANMM photo by Donna Carstens

The Sydney skyline as seen from onboard HMB Endeavour. ANMM photo by Donna Carstens

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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

Latest technology on an 18th Century ship

I wonder what Captain Cook would think of the latest navigation equipment we are installing on HMB Endeavour? We are getting the ship ready for September when we sail to Newcastle, and what an exciting month of sailing it will be! During the voyage, science and botany will be explored with Dr Trevor Wilson and Dr Matt Renner from the Royal Botanic Gardens, and also astronomy with Fred Watson from the Australian Astronomical Observatory on board.

Andrew Laurie along with John Holden are the brains behind putting together the new ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) in the chart room. In the days of Captain Cook they used paper charts, (however we still do use paper charts) and along with the ECDIS comes a new Sailor Sat C, a satellite communication system to receive accurate and instant weather and traffic updates. Oh, and we also have the latest radar system available. Andrew says the safety of the crew and passengers is important. “This equipment is a priority in voyaging overseas as well as in Australian waters”.

AndrewAndrew Laurie is our Engineer and the brains behind HMB Endeavour – with a bit of a sense of humour to spice things up a bit. He joined the crew during the Circumnavigation of Australia as an Engineer, came back for the Fleet Review in 2013 and has been with us ever since.

Born in Western Australia his background is fishing, pearling, farming cattle along with square rig sailing & sail training which is his passion.

When I asked him what one of his highlights was on HMB Endeavour he said: “a day when the toilet alarm doesn’t go off and I have to fix it (the black water tank alarm)”. That’s a highlight?! “That, and also when we turn the engines off and we REALLY GO SAILING”. However the best part, he says, is arriving back at port after a long voyage with a happy crew who have had the time of their lives.

So Andrew, where do you see yourself in the next two years? “I would like to be on board the HMB Endeavour on an international voyage”.

By Rina Timpano, Voyage Coordinator, HMB Endeavour

Introduction to Endeavour

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Rina and I am the new Voyage Coordinator for HMB Endeavour. It has been two months since I started in this position and – let me just say – I am loving my work.

My day at the office

My day at the office


When I first began, I was lost in some of the nautical terms the crew were using – for example; the ‘yard’ I thought was a measurement or a backyard, rather it is a spar on the mast on which the sails are set. I have started understanding the nautical language with thanks to the Captain and crew for being patient and answering my many questions. My partner is surprised by how much of the nautical terminology I have picked up already!


Discussing the upcoming voyages while making repairs to the main yard.

Capt. John and 1st Mate Anthony Discussing the upcoming voyages while making repairs to the main yard.



HMB  Endeavour is going through some transformations at the moment before setting sail in September. During September we will be voyaging to Newcastle with two botanists from The Royal Botanic Gardens onboard. Dr’s Trevor Wilson and Matt Renner will be giving talks and searching for seeds and new species of plants. Matt Renner has been looking into the botanical collections around the Hawkesbury Bay area, and was surprised at the low number of botanical collections that have been made so far, saying that “this voyage is going to increase our knowledge of an area that we should have known more about already!” The crew onboard are quite welcome to participate in the search for new plant life in The Royal Botanic Gardens research project and who knows what they may find? They may even name a new species after one of the crew. If this or any of our voyages appeal to you please visit

I’ve never realised just how many people are drawn to Endeavour. So many people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, not forgetting the crew that treat her with love and care, through to a NASA Astronaut I met who had returned to earth on the Endeavour space shuttle.

The HMB Endeavour sits in front of the museum with pride. Why not come visit and say hello.

HMB Endeavour sitting with pride

HMB Endeavour sitting with pride

Rina Timpano

Endeavour Voyage Coordinator

National Science Week grant: Endeavouring Science

NSW 2013

2013 National Science Week on HMB Endeavour replica
Photo: A Frolows, ANMM

The museum is pleased to be a recipient of a 2014 National Science Week grant from the Federal Government’s Inspiring Australia program. Our program, Endeavouring Science, looks at how science has both evolved and remained the same from the 18th century to the 21st century, featuring a range of activities located aboard the iconic HMB Endeavour replica as well as activations across the whole museum site. It will cover themes of weather and navigation, biology and botany, signals and communication and the scientific principles that underlie these.

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