Tuesday 28 October 2014 1300
The HMB Endeavour replica is heading back to sea! This time, we’re sailing south from Sydney to Eden, near the Victorian border, where we’ll join the festivities as part of Eden’s Whale Festival this coming weekend.
Voyage crew joined the ship in Darling Harbour yesterday morning. Almost all members of our three watches – including four supernumeraries – climbed the rigging to get their first taste of going aloft on Endeavour. With a strong southerly forecasted we stayed in Darling Harbour overnight to wait for the weather to pass.
At the end of a hot, humid and very busy day, voyage crew, supernumeraries and professional crew gathered on the quarterdeck to hear Geoff Ross, voyage crew member and whale expert from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, talk to us about whales that we might see on our way to Eden.
It was quite a contrast: we gathered on the aft deck of an 18th century sailing vessel surrounded by Sydney’s skyscrapers as the sky lit up with a beautiful sunset – and we learnt about whales.
Geoff told us about about the whale species that frequent the Australia’s east coast as they travel to and from the Antarctica and about the decline of populations due to whaling in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Despite having heard about the huge size of blue whales many times before, it was only when Geoff compared the length of a blue whale (25-30m on average) with that of Endeavour (33.3m on deck) that I really grasped for the first time just how immense blue whales are. According to Geoff, the aorta of a blue whale is so large that an adult could stand up inside it. Despite their impressive size and weight, blue whales remain endangered and are not often seen off our coastline.
We have only scratched the surface of Geoff’s knowledge and he will be sharing much more with us over the next few days.
As we head out of Sydney’s heads and turn south towards Eden, our voyage crew will be working hard on deck and in the rigging, but there’ll always be at least one lookout with their gaze turned seaward, keeping an eye out for those elusive whales.
– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth