Day 6 – Fitzroy Island

Foremast watch on the dawn watch

Foremast watch on the dawn watch

0400 – 0800 shift again this morning. Actually I should talk about last night first. After dinner we were called up on deck. The officers wanted to get some of the sails in before dark, and Bouncy asked John and myself to go and secure the spritsail. That’s one of the sails that hangs off the yardarm on the bowsprit. This was on dusk, so the two of us had to secure on, then climb out onto the bowsprit and haul up by hand and then secure it to the yardarm with gasket lines. By the time we finished this is was getting dark. Kicking myself that I didn’t have my camera to get photos looking back on on the boat but we were more than a little busy anyway and it was too dark, the flash would have pissed the crew off. But you really feel alive when you are hanging over a yardarm at dusk and the only thing on your mind is getting the sail secure, looking down at the sea below you.

Once we were back on the ship Bouncy said that we did a fantastic job on the bowsprit with little instruction needed. After this we unwound with some work on our sods opera piece and I did a bit more work on the voyage chart. Our sods opera piece is the Beach Boys song “Sloop John B”, we’ve changed the lyrics to reflect the Endeavour and I think it’s pretty good.

Had a bit of an early night, we were up again at 0400 for the dawn watch. That one’s pretty cool because
a) it’s pretty quiet and
b) you get to watch the sun come up,
never get bored of watching that. Did the usual rounds of helm, the fore and aft watch and the rounds. We made huge distance last night with great sailing conditions, apparently we covered 40nm and early in the morning we found ourselves off Fitzroy Island not too far from Cairns already.

Up on the foremast

Up on the foremast

At the end of our shift we found ourselves busy once more as we had to drop anchor again, hopefully this is the last time that we have to handle the awful disgusting tar covered anchor rope. A quick clean up and we were then off to secure the fore top sail. This is similar to what we had to do with the spritsail, where you gather the sails up and make them all nice and neat, then tie them off with the gasket lines except this time we had to climb the shrouds to the fore topsail yardarm and hang over that, and this time there was about 8 of us up there to secure it! We did a pretty good job on that, and then it was down for bacon and eggs for breakfast.

After breakfast there was a chance to clean up and shower, 30 sec shower although at least its hot fresh water. 0900 the professional crew have their morning briefing and then shortly after that it’s the voyage crew meeting. Here Ross informed us that we’d made great progress and that today there would be opportunity to go swimming from the ship. But first – happy hour. Once again we were stuck cleaning the 20th century deck, which meant showers and heads too. If someone told you that you’d pay good money to go on a voyage where you’ll be required to clean the toilets and least twice you think they were fucking crazy, but we did it. Actually it’s funny, it’s the chores like this that build the comradery in the watch – working together towards a common goal which in this case is to have the cleanest area on the ship (which we always do!)

Swimming off the Endeavour

Swimming off the Endeavour

After happy hour I got stuck into the voyage chart and made some really good progress on that, it was starting to look really good. I was interrupted however by “fizz quiz”, basically this is a test on our knowledge we’ve gained over the last seven days and so we did a cram session, trying to memorize as many lines as we could. We didn’t get too far but we soon found that the format of the quiz was that the same number in each watch would be asked to find a particular rope, with points allocated depending on who got it first, second and third. I’m quiet happy to say that foremast watch won, the prize being a box of chocolates. Being the good winners that we are we naturally shared them with members of the other watch, our top man and upper yardman as well as the kitchen staff.

Swimming was after that, basically it was a free time to swim from the boost, once the rescue boat was out there for us. There were a few rules, no swimming around the boat, stick to one side where the rescue boat can see you and no diving off the rails. So we had about an hour of diving from the platforms then climbing back up netting or ropes for another go. Got some great photos and Sam managed to knee herself in the nose – ouch! Fortunately it doesn’t look too bad. The voyage chart still needed to be finished to I dried off and changed before finishing that, then finishing practise on our sods opera piece. I finished the chart just before formal dinner tonight – nice timing, it looks pretty good and I hope to get a copy off Ellie.

The dinner was pretty special with all us on the 18th century deck being served by the officers and professional crew. After this we did the sods opera, unfortunately one other watch also did Sloop John B although I think ours was better. John read a poem he wrote that was moving, I recorded his presentation too.

After dinner it was video time, Ross put on some videos of the Endeavour for us, as well as a few presentations and then we watched a movie on rounding the cape.

I’ve now been up since 0400 and it’s really catching up with me, I’ve also got the 0200-0300 anchor watch so I will go to bed real soon. I got a chance to call Deanne and talk to her and the kids. I’m really missing them, although I’ll also be sad to see this voyage end – it was too short. Apparently 14 days is the ideal voyage length, however I wanted to do far north Queensland and I also wouldn’t have gotten to spend time with an awesome group of people. We’ve lived together for 7 days now and I will be sad tomorrow when we part – probably won’t see them again except the occasional email. We are planning to go out to tomorrow night so that will be a good farewell in Cairns.

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