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.


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

Day 4-5 Botany Basics voyage and a weekend in Newcastle

Our final update from the Botany Basics voyage last week has been a little delayed due to the very busy few days we’ve had in Newcastle.

HMB Endeavour replica has been docked at Queen’s Wharf since Friday evening and nearly 3500 people have come aboard the ship in the four days since then, not including several groups of children from schools in the Newcastle area.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle's Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle’s Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

At the time of our last post from the Botany Basics voyage, we were at sea in light airs, making the most of a gentle southerly to get in some good sailing offshore from Broken Bay before heading north towards Newcastle.

The light winds continued during Thursday (day 4 of the voyage) before a sudden change came through around 2200 hours – four bells into the evening watch*. The topsails had been reefed earlier in the evening and we had further shortened sail at the change of the watch (2000 hours) so were prepared for the increased wind.

The southerly breeze was ideal for sailing north to Newcastle. The ship zigzagged up the coast, sailing with the wind abaft the beam. We wore ship at each change of watch in order to head towards Newcastle, making it a busy night!

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo: SMM.

Closer to Newcastle on Friday morning, shipping traffic increased and our lookouts were kept busy keeping an eye on new ships appearing on the horizon at regular intervals.

The stern lookout also spotted two seals playing just behind us as we came into Newcastle. It was a good voyage for wildlife sightings, with a small minke whale swimming around the ship for about an hour on Thursday and humpbacks breaching close by during the night.

Endeavour entered Newcastle just before 1500 hours on Friday, exchanging gun salutes with the Fort Scratchley. Fort Scratchley is famous as the only coastal fortification to have fired at an enemy Naval vessel during World War II.

Endeavour at Queen's Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby's Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour at Queen’s Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby’s Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Newcastle is also significant for the Endeavour replica as Nobby’s Head, the headland at the southern entrance to Newcastle Harbour, was sighted by Captain Cook on 10 May 1770, four days after his departure from Botany Bay.

Endeavour has not visited Newcastle for about six years and we were delighted with the wonderful reception from the city. We were met by a large crowd on the wharf and the Newcastle Herald captured some lovely shots of the ship’s arrival.

Endeavour will depart Queen’s Wharf at 0900 hours this morning. We’ll keep you updated – depending on our access to the internet – during the next voyage, sailing from Newcastle to Port Stephens then south to Pittwater before arriving in Sydney on Sunday 21st September.

All’s well.

* The ship’s bell was traditionally struck each half hour, with one to eight bells struck during each four hour watch. Therefore two bells in the evening watch (2000-2400 hours) indicates 2200 hours, or 10pm.

- Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

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