Endeavour: Sydney to Geelong Voyage, days 8–9

Aloft on HMB Endeavour

A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Sydney to Geelong. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day Eight, Thursday 4 February 2016

Our final night in open sea was a somewhat bouncy one as we ambled around south of Port Phillip Heads keeping away from other vessels, but generally making sure we were in position to advance to pilot meeting area on time in the morning. As we approached, the local population of dolphins turned out in force for a friendly welcome. The sea was a little too rough for boarding so the pilot boat escorted us until we were inside the Heads. Our pilot, Neil, boarded between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff and remained with us all the way to Geelong. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience of piloting a vessel so different from those of his daily round.

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Endeavour: Sydney to Geelong Voyage, day 7

On board Endeavour on its way to Geelong, 2016

A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Sydney to Geelong. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day seven, Wednesday 3 February 2016

The south westerly change came through at around 0500, and everyone had to adjust clothing to varying degrees to cope with the much cooler conditions. During the morning the wind went southerly and strengthened, increasing the effect. Wet weather gear was common on deck, not so much to keep rain off—there was very little—but to keep out the cold. Victorians shrugged their shoulders; those from north of the border grumbled about Victorian weather. Why wouldn’t they? These conditions made the Captain’s morning briefing a more challenging experience. By nightfall we could see Cape Schank as we tossed around in an increasing swell. Maybe an uncomfortable night ahead.

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Endeavour: Sydney to Geelong Voyage, days 1–6

HMB Endeavour on the first day of its voyage to Geelong.

HMB Endeavour on the first day of its voyage to Geelong.

A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Sydney to Geelong. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day one, Thursday 28 January 2016

We are underway, under sail and heading south at 5 knots. We’ve had our first “All Hands” call to set sail—and all is well!

For the record, voyage crew came on board at 0800 and got quickly into safety briefing training drills and a full scale fire drill. Then around 1600 the engines grumbled to life and we knew departure was imminent. Finally we slipped off the pier at 1630 and turned for the main harbour. At almost exactly 1800 we passed through the heads into the open sea and at 1830 the PA crackled out the order: “All hands on deck to set some sail.” Before long the engines were powered down and finally cut completely. At last we were doing what we all came for and smiles were getting broader. As if to emphasise the point, we watched a large, modern cruise liner emerge from the Heads astern of us and pass us off the the port side. She will reach Melbourne faster than us—but we’ll have a lot more fun.

Lastly, as we are sailing in a replica of James Cook’s famous ship, a bit of learning about that voyage of discovery. Each blog we will post a question for readers to ponder, answer to follow. Day One question is an easy one: Who or what was the Earl of Pembroke?

Day two, Friday 29 January 2016

Shipboard life is starting to take shape as voyage crew and supernumeraries woke to their first morning at sea—wake up calls on the PA; two sittings for each meal; morning briefing from the Captain; happy hour (housekeeping time, not the other sort!). We were shadowed all morning by shearwaters and there was the occasional dolphin sighting, we set more sail until we had ten up fighting for what wind we could catch to drive us south. Averaging 4 knots our skipper was more or less happy with the state of our world.

Preparing the gallant

Day two: Preparing the gallant

The afternoon was a different story. The horizon to the south west showed darker and darker, split by the odd flash of distant lightning. Would it stay over the land? Before long we had our answer. From 1500 to 1600 hours the thunderstorm passed directly over us. The winds were not especially strong—20 to 25 knots—but oh, the rain! At times the lightning seemed directly overhead as the thunder crashed all around. But, Endeavour weathered it all beautifully, and like all storms, eventually it passed.

The storm did have one positive—our speed increased to around 8 knots in more or less our intended direction. Afterwards this advantage was soon lost as the wind shifted to the wrong quarter before dying almost completely and reluctantly the noisy iron staysails were ordered into action to help us get back on track. And there on the horizon was Pigeon House Mountain. But hang on, said a few observant souls, wasn’t that there two hours ago? Ahh, such is life at sea.

Yesterday’s question concerned the Earl of Pembroke. This was the name of the Whitby collier purchased by the Admiralty in 1768 and renamed. As Endeavour she was repurposed and refitted according to a new set of Admiralty plans, to take a scientific party to the south Pacific—specifically the newly discovered Tahiti—to take part in a worldwide project to observe the transit of Venus from several separate locations across the globe, combine the results and so accurately determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun. And how fortunate are we? Those refit plans still exist, so when a decisions was taken to build a replica the plans were dusted off and used again. Hence we are currently aboard the most authentic replica tall ship in the world.

Now today’s question: What is a fearnought? (Hint: we needed these today.)

Day three, Saturday 30 January 2016

After a night of “rock ’n roll”, day three began with a fire alarm—which turned out to be false. For professional crew it was an opportunity to test their fire response. In time the all clear was given and normality gradually took over once more.

It was a mixed day of steady progress down the south coast of NSW. Mixed because the winds were changeable, so we had some good sailing, but also a lot of hard slog under power. Despite that, we covered 125 miles in a 24 hour period. Remarks like, “she seems to roll more when there’s no sails up” indicate the voyage crew are starting to get to know the ship.

View from Endeavour, day three.

Bow and wave. Day three on HMB Endeavour’s voyage to Geelong.

On the social side, people are getting to know one another and discover things of common interest and all are enjoying themselves—even the few who are recovering from sea sickness, though for them the smile is through gritted teeth! There are some pre-existing groupings of course—friends from way back; a husband and wife; even a father a son, where the father is voyage crew and the son a supernumerary—which one drew the short straw? One happy young group on board comprises three 17 year old school friends from St Luke’s in Dee Why who are missing the first week of their final year at school to take this voyage. We say, Well Done! to Callum, Emma and Todd. What you miss in the classroom you will more than make up for in life experience.

Emma, Callum and Todd on board HMB Endeavour

Emma, Callum and Todd on board HMB Endeavour

Meanwhile up on deck, at one stage we had a clear, starry sky on the port side and continuous lightning to starboard—a portent of things to come.

To answer yesterday’s question, fearnought was the name given to a particular variety of weatherproof jacket common in James Cook’s day.

And today’s question: where is, or was, Cape Everard?

Day four, Sunday 31 January 2016

The lightning last night was indeed a portent. On two occasions overnight, extra professional crew were summoned to help the watch on deck, first to brace up then to take in sails. The first of these calls was under threatening skies, the second in pitch dark and heavy rain; it all adds to the experience of those involved. Eddy and Rachael did a magnificent job co-ordinating it all.

Day four. The view from HMB Endeavour. Image: Andy Berry

Day four. The view from HMB Endeavour. Image: Andy Berry

Early this morning we passed around Cape Hicks and entered Victorian waters in Bass Strait. The day brought sunshine and moderating seas, but unfortunately winds in the wrong direction—in our face. So we have had no option but to motor pretty much all day, and the prospect for more favourable conditions for sailing is not great. Still, at least everyone gets some respite after a hectic couple of days and nights.

HMB Endeavour fairlead

Day four. Through the fairlead. Image: Andy Berry

Interestingly, today we passed Point Hicks on the East Gippsland coast. This is significant as it was the first point of mainland Australia sighted from Cook’s Endeavour in 1770. It was easy to imagine sailors on that Endeavour looking in wonder at the obvious high mountains stretching along the horizon. Cook named the feature after his Second Lieutenant, Zachary Hicks, who was the first to spot it. Cook and his crew assumed that the stretch of water to the south of here was a wide bay, and part of Tasmania, the southern part of which had already been seen and mapped, and didn’t attempt to explore in that direction—their aim was to follow this coast northwards mapping as they went, assuming it would eventually lead them to Batavia (now Djakarta) in what was then the Dutch East Indies.

This all leads to Cape Everard. At some stage in Victoria’s history this name was assigned to this same point of land, supplanting the name given it by Cook. Around the time of the Cook Bicentennial year, 1970, the name Hicks was restored.

The Day Four question: Cook and his crew celebrated Christmas Day inside the Antarctic Circle in which year: 1769, 1770, 1773 or 1776?

Day five, Monday 1 February 2016

In the late afternoon and evening Sunday many of the Bass Strait oil rigs were visible to the north of us as we motored on into that head wind. Then in the early hours the dawn watch and anyone else who cared to take the deck at that hour had a lovely view of five planets stretching in a line across the sky.

Soon after breakfast our Captain decided to alter course to use the available wind to sail for most of the day. And what a beautiful day it was—calm sea, sunshine, the quiet of sailing, 360-degree horizon, the occasional ship passing in the distance but much of the time in our own magnificent isolation. A good portion of the morning was taken up for all hands on deck setting sail. Our initial course put us on a heading towards Flinders Island; around 1600 we braced around to start heading back towards Victoria again. It was noticeable that more off-duty crew were taking to the deck to relax, obviously enjoying themselves.

During the afternoon the first lecture took place. The ship was left in the hands of the professional crew as voyage crew and supers retired to the Great Cabin to learn about the night sky and navigation. Later, Eden gave a further lecture to her own watch on points of the compass.

Around tea time the Captain decided to bring in sails and motor again so that we could make some good westing overnight, as we have to be in position outside Port Phillip on Thursday morning where a pilot will board and take us through The Rip at slack water.

We are now sailing in waters Captain Cook never saw, as noted yesterday, and yesterday’s question concerns an event that did not involve Endeavour. Christmas Day at 67° south took place in 1773 during Cook’s second voyage. Although the Endeavour voyage had done enough to satisfy Cook himself that the “great southern land” was a myth, he nevertheless recognised that there were still vast areas in the southern Pacific unvisited, and the mystery of the Antarctic to unravel. His second voyage was intent on addressing these matters. Again Cook was equipped with Whitby coal cats—two of them this time—Resolution, larger but otherwise very similar to Endeavour, and Adventure, somewhat smaller. The story goes that a young sailor named Vancouver, when he heard the order to brace around to retreat from the ice, raced out to the very tip of the bowsprit so that he could brag forever more that he had been “further south than any other man alive”.

And now the Day Five question: who was Alexander Dalrymple, and what part did he play in the Endeavour expedition?

Day six, Tuesday 2 February 2016

This morning our Captain John announced his decision to head in close to Refuge Cove on the east coast of Wilson’s Promontory, then move slowly along the coast to round the light station on South East Point before setting sail and heading away from the coast once more. This plan was greeted with approval all round and lead to all on board having a lovely morning watching one of the prettiest coasts you would find anywhere, then a very pleasant sail in light winds for the rest of the day. By evening we had changed course to the west and shortened sail in readiness to meet an expected south westerly change overnight.

Learning the sextant

Learning the sextant

Yesterday’s lecture was followed by a practical session with sextants for those interested, giving them some insight into the art and science of navigation.

As people are getting to know one another voyage crew stories are coming out; one interesting one is our husband and wife team, Marie and Mark. They have flown across the world just for this trip, Marie from their home in England and Mark from his current post with UK’s diplomatic service in Kabul. And today we were all able to celebrate with them Mark’s birthday. He had to share the honours with Emma, whose birthday was on the first day of the voyage. Their cake made a lovely dessert for the evening meal—thanks Alan and Paula.

Birthday cake on Endeavour

Mark and Emma’s birthday cake.

Yesterday’s question concerned Alexander Dalrymple. He had fashioned himself into THE expert in Britain on the riddle the Endeavour expedition was aiming to solve, once it’s primary astronomical project was completed—Terra Australis Incognita. Dalrymple had studied every report by every visitor to the south Pacific and made it known that he KNEW there was a great south land, and he KNEW where to look. His claims appeared to make him the obvious choice to lead the expedition, and he certainly expected to. However, wiser heads prevailed; his lack of other skills regarded as essential to such a project lead to the decision to appoint Lieutenant James Cook instead.

Day Six question: why did Cook have charcoal fires lit in buckets down in the hold of his ships?

Bill Ellemor, Steward

Endeavour sails and so could you

 

With just days to go, there is still lots of work to prepare HMB Endeavour Replica for its upcoming voyages. Apart from organising bookings, logistics and crew, the ship is being made ready, and last-minute maintenance and painting scheduled.

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Endeavour goes to dry dock

HMB Endeavour in dry dock

Every two years, HMB Endeavour goes to dry dock for regular maintenance—part of the requirements to maintain its survey status. On 4 June, the crew took the ship through the Glebe Island Bridge and onto the synchrolift at the shipyard. With high tide well after sunset, the evolution was conducted safely and well after dark.

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Endeavour’s Botany Bay voyage: Meeting of Two Cultures Ceremony

The clouds parted as the voyage crew gathered to join the HMB Endeavour replica on Tuesday morning for a three-day return voyage to Botany Bay. The voyage was timed to coincide with the 245th Anniversary Ceremony of the landing of Captain Cook and the Endeavour crew at Kurnell in Botany Bay. The voyage crew included some new crew and some ‘repeat offenders’, as the returning voyage crew have been affectionately dubbed.

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Endeavour: Hobart to Sydney voyage, days 4 – 10

Drawing of the sails on HMB Endeavour

Drawing of the sails.

A blog series from on board the Endeavour ship as it sails to from Hobart to Sydney. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day four to ten, 28 February – 6 March 2015

As we motored most of the day, our watch leaders continued their sail training with drawings of sails on the deck, explaining how the different sails worked. Throughout the day the different watch leaders taught the voyage crew a variety of knots used on Endeavour. Even though there was not a lot of wind in the sails, the voyage crew were enthusiastic to get up and give anything a try.

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Endeavour: Hobart to Sydney voyage, days 1 – 3

A blog series from on board the Endeavour ship as it sails to from Hobart to Sydney. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day one, two and three: 2527 February 2015

New Voyage Crew joined HMB Endeavour this morning while alongside Elizabeth Street Pier in Hobart. We have quite a few Voyage Crew who have sailed with us before, some of whom have returned with family members, and they are all eager to start their journey to Sydney.

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Endeavour: voyaging to Hobart, days 7 – 10

A blog series from on board the Endeavour ship as she sails to Tasmania. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day 7  Tuesday 17 Feburary

Climbing the mast

Being at anchor overnight meant only a few crew were needed for short night watches. Most of the crew took advantage and headed off to bed for a good stretch of sleep on calm water, with no rolling and rocking. We awoke to a beautiful but misty morning with mist just outlining Tasmania coastline. After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, all hands on deck were called to bring up the anchor. For some of the voyage crew this was a new activity and all put great effort into making what can be a complicated process seemingly easy.

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Endeavour: voyaging to Hobart, days 4 – 6

A blog series from on board the Endeavour ship as she sails to Tasmania. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day four – Saturday 14 February

Supernumerary Bill Morris demonstrating the sextant.

Supernumerary Bill Morris demonstrating the sextant.

Under a clear sky and thousands of stars overnight the sails were handed (clewed up to the yards) as we motored south.

The Main Mast Foremast Crew sat together laughing and chatting on how “hard it is to helm”, when they had been given direction from the Officer of the Watch and the Watch Leader.

Supernumerary Bill gave an interesting talk on sextants in the Great Cabin. Bill explained a little of the history of this navigation instrument and the subtle differences between types. We regularly see Bill out with his own sextant, recording his observations.

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