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

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