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

One thought on “Day 3: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

  1. Pingback: Day 4-5 Botany Basics voyage and a weekend in Newcastle | Australian National Maritime Museum

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