Day 7 – Cairns



Today is the last day of my journey. Actually no its not, yesterday was. I’m writing this sitting at the airport waiting for the plane to take me home. Yesterday was such a packed day that today has been the first time I’ve had a chance to stop and put my thoughts down.

To start with we had the 0200-0300 watch which meant an early start. Fortunately these anchor watches are easy, you are only on for an hour and there isn’t a lot to do really. The watch is split so there’s 3 of us at any one time and it’s in your watch order, so 1,2 and 3 on the first watch 4,5 and 6 on the second watch and so on – or we might go backwards so it’s 11,10, 9 etc. Basically we spent the shift sitting around telling funny stories of the voyage etc. So much fun was had we actually ended up staying on deck for another hour talking to bouncy and the next watch, Eddie came and went on deck a few times and nick came up once or twice to tell Sam she was too loud ๐Ÿ˜›

By 0400 we decided to call it a night and returned to our hammocks, I’ve finally worked out I was sleeping too far up in the hammock and what was happening was the hammock was tight and was squashing my shoulders so that I was sore in the morning, by sliding a bit further down in the hammock I got a much better nights sleep.

FlagAround 0715 we got the wakeup call and started to congregate around the deck, however I was on kitchen duty for the last time with Lucy and the other 7s – today’s breakfast was a rather more leisurely affair with all watches served at the same time so I was working my arse off with the toaster. Lucy took over for a while so I grabbed some breakfast and joined the rest of our watch up on the deck where we got to eat breakfast in the open air as a last day “treat”. I couldn’t hang around for long before I had to head back down to help clean up after breakfast. So busy I didn’t even have time for a coffee ๐Ÿ™

Again we lounged around the deck, while the professional crew had their meeting (what goes on behind closed doors for so long? Laughing about the voyage crew? Special brekkie treats we don’t get? A real happy hour?), some of us started to pack and donn our voyage shirts that we needed to wear into port. Captain Ross gave his last morning meeting with the whole crew and we were filled in on the planned proceedings of the day. We would be motoring into port as we weren’t allowed to sail in, and the voyage crew could optionally go aloft to the yard arms. Naturally we all took that offer up! So once we were in voyage crew shirts and harnesses we waited on deck while the ship apporached Cairns. By now the 18th century deck was kitted out with all the stuff from the museum – our little home at sea was no longer ours ๐Ÿ™

Bouncy told us that four of us would go to the top gallant yard and the rest to the top sail yard – TG was popular so I offered to take the top sail. Stupid me. I got them confused and TG yard was RIGHT at the top, the little one. I never got to go this high on voyage. Oh well – shit happens. Anyway I secured my camera to my harness and up we went. Anne and I picked the wrong ASAPs and had to go down and switch, but we were still ready in plenty of time to get into port. Loooking around us the view was pretty awesome, a crowd has started to form to see us and Ally fired off the cannon. Swinging around I got some great shots of us all aloft and Ally again fired the cannon which I caught on video – pretty cool ๐Ÿ™‚ What was also cool was Richard’s kids were on the dock yelling “Ahoy Daddy!” – it was so cute. A pity Deanne and the kids couldn’t come up to see it, but as teenagers Adam and Jackie would probably be thinking “meh” and texting someone…

Before too long we were docking at the wharf and we had to come down for the last time, hand back our safety vests, grab our stuff and disembrak (after a few slow locals figured out how the gangway went together!) It was a little sad that it was coming to an end so quickly – the voyage was definitely too short and I knew I’d miss the rest of the foremast watch, amazing how quickly a group of people can bond when thrown together. This was definitely an amazing experience. Once ashore we had the opportunity to buy voyage souvenirs at a discount so I grabbed something for Deanne, me and the kids, and a few things for Andrew and Michelle’s kids after I’d stayed with them. One funny thing was the local TV news crew ambushed me for an interview and despite telling them I was a little camera shy they proceeded to ask me a few questions. One of them was what the highlight of the voyage was, I told them that it was the way the watches had gotten together so well – turning to indicate the watch only to find Sam duck out of view while Bronwyn, Fiona and the rest tried to get out of the way!haha

We’d already exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and we planned to catch up with those staying in Cairns for dinner, so we decided to check into our respective hotels first. Those plans came slightly undone when I noticed there was a pub across the road – after 7 days at sea a beer would be nice so I convinced Sam to have a drink before we went – Geoff and Troy and a few from other watches were also there so we had a beer together before heading off. I was booked into the Gilligan’s Backpackers – I’d never done the backpacking thing when I was younger so I thought I’d do that too while I was away. Holly had told me months earlier that the professional crew would also be staying there so it made sense anyway.

The place we went to dinner was called Rattle & Hum, the food was pretty good, and I had a few more beers although I tried to pace myself and stick to the light stuff to start with – I’d hate to miss my flight today because I was hungover and also didn’t want to get too wasted ๐Ÿ™‚ Not long after dinner finished the professional crew arrived, most of them came along which was cool. The night was pretty good – Bouncy, Eddie and Ally settled into singing sea shanties until eventually management asked them to stop. Party poopers. ๐Ÿ™ Ended up staying out ’til quite late – didn’t get home until the early hours.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

This morning I woke early – forgot to set my alarm later so I got dressed and went out for breakfast. My flight isn’t until 1.30pm so I went for a bit of a walk – had Maccas for breakfast then wandered down to the marina. Its a pity I won’t get to see the rest of Cairns – Deanne and I will have to come back some time. I found a cafe on the water (they also did breakfast – damn I should have had a real breakfast there instead of Macca’s shit) so I sat and had a coffee wihle watching seaplanes fly past. That was really cool – maybe I should complete my commercial license and we move up here and I fly seaplanes, that would be awesome.

I headed back to Gilligans and decided that because of the shit going on with the Chile volcano I’d check out and headed for the airport early. I’ve got a few hours to wait so I’ve grabbed another coffee and I’ll have some lunch soon, then I should be home to Deanne by 5pm – missing home a lot.

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 inย Cairns.

Day 5 – Sailing

Bow spirit - popular place to be!

Bow spirit - popular place to be!

This morning we had the 0800-1200 shift so it was breakfast first with croissants and then on shift. We put out more sails today, as the wind eased we can get more sails out like the top gallants and so on. If the wind picks up then you start to take in some of the upper sails.

That was pretty busy and then we were on watch proper, I spent much of the time on the helm, we were sailing fore and bye which means following the wind, this was much harder as you are reading the wind in the sails etc. We had all but about two sails up before long, that would have been great to see from a distance but there wasn’t time to get the rescue boat out to get some pictures. With the bow spirit sails up it also meant that you had to climb out on to the the bow spirit for the foreward watch, the view was awesome from there – apparently. It was so popular soon everyone was lined up to have a go and I missed out by the time our watch was over. Hopefully I’ll get another go before the voyage is over.

Captain Ross gives a lecture on wind systems

Captain Ross gives a lecture on wind systems

During the watch Ross gave another lecture where he explained about sailing with the winds, the different wind systems on earth and why early sailors did things certain ways. Even today they are very much dictated to by the weather and the voyage was planned considering this. For example in the lower latitudes at about 40deg you have the Roaring Forties running west to east that a lot of early sailors used. You also have the north trade winds running east to west. Cook knew that he had a limited windows of opportunity however and he was able to sail around the Cape of Good Hope instead and shorten his voyage to Tahiti.

With this voyage we’ve had favorable winds most of the way however once they reach the coast of Western Australia it’s going to be much harder going than this. Also they plan to cross the Great Australian Bight in summer which should be a much more favourable time for it than winter with gales etc.

John on the sextant - Celestial navigation 101

John on the sextant - Celestial navigation 101

Pretty soon we had passed Dunk Island and soon it was time for lunch – meat wraps. After lunch, we had another lecture where Ross explained about the different sails, what they were called and which ones were used when. After this was celestial navigation which was actually very interesting, I also got to use the sextant. It’s nowhere near as difficult a it had previously been made out to me, I think the harder bit is just the mathematics, allowing for height off the deck etc.

Now I should really get back to designing our maps, although apparently Jimmy is also a bit of an artist so he’s going to have a crack at drawing the boat etc.

Day 4 – Zoe Bay

HMB Endeavour at anchor in Zoe Bay

Day started at 0100 with a 1 hour watch on anchor with Bronwyn, Sam and Lucy. At anchor the watch is always easy, you only have an hour on watch and there isn’t much to do. Sit around on the deck, keep warm. Do the safety rounds. Easy.

After an hour on watch it was back to bed and slept through until 0700ish when I was again woken by the sound of the watch cleaning the deck. There wasn’t a call so I just laid in the hammock until breakfast was called, I like this. Once again breakfast was great, certainly being fed well on the trip.

Nice Beach

Up on deck and we’re all called for a meeting. Today we will be going over to Zoe Bay for a day’s swimming, so it’s a hurried happy hour so that everyone can get ready. We were on the 18th century deck so it was just a sweep done and polish the ship’s bell.

Into swimmers and the foremast was called up as first to go over to the beach. We donned life jackets and grabbed our gear and once the safety boat was in the water we were on our way. We had Elly on our trip and as she’s ships steward and photographer we got to do a lap around the ship first while she photographed her from all sides. It was great for us to get to see it in a magnificent location from all sides. After this we were dropped off on the beach, and it was absolutely pristine. You could see the damage from the recent cyclone but the beach looked untouched by humans. Lots of slip-slop-slap while we waited for the rest of the foremast watch to join us, then we headed off to find a waterfall. Bronwyn and Fiona know the area well and soon they had led us to a swimming hole and waterfall which was absolutely magnificent. It flowed down into a pool and we all dived in. The water was absolutely freezing but once you were in it got a little better.

Waterfall on Hinchinbrook Island

The rocks were very slippery with moss, but we managed to climb the rocks near the water fall and had a bit of fun bombing and diving in, playing with the new underwater cameras and photographing the fish. The cold got a bit much and soon we were drying off and making our way back to the beach. Jeremy had prepared a lunch of bread rolls so I grabbed a ham roll, apple and muesli bar. The other watches were all off the ship but all too soon it was time for us to return to the Endeavour.

Once back we heard that there might be a chance of getting to swim off the ship, so we stayed in our swimmers however it wasn’t until 1530 that the rest of the ship’s crew were back on board and by then it was too late. Once the safety boat was stowed, all hands were called to deck with safety harness, we weighed anchor and planned to set sail. Volunteers were again called to climb the shrouds so I again jumped at the opportunity, despite my shakes from last time.

This time we had to go much higher as we were to unfurl the topsail. Up past the futtocks and past the platform, soon I was hanging over the topsail yard arm fumbling with knots and trying not to shake. It’s much harder than it looks. The knots were tight but eventually I got them undone and the topsail was free, tidied up the rope and was on my way down again.

After that it was onto the sails and get the ship underway. We didn’t have to tidy the ropes because we were called to dinner – fish and chips, ice cream and pudding. Yum ๐Ÿ™‚

Bouncy and his ukele

Bouncy and his ukele

Our next watch is 2000 until 0000, I don’t think I’ll have a sleep now, rather I’ll wait til the watch is done and should sleep soundly after that. Better grab a coffee before then. At the moment the rest of the watch are having fun playing UNO so I’ll join in with them for a while. Bouncy is playing Over the Rainbow on his ukulele. On the last night we have sod’s opera where he did to do some sort of performance, it might be a sing along or something. I’ve also been asked to assist drawing up the ship’s voyage, basically its a picture of our journey like maps of old with little illustrations etc. It should be great fun. I’ve tried to incorporate as much from our trip as I can, although we’re only half way so I don’t really have a lot to work on at the moment. There’s little biplane from the joy flight that buzzed us, cannons, moon rise over the water etc.

Anyway, that’s all for today. I’m off to find some coffee and then join the watch for cards.

Day 3 continued…

Smoko was soon over and after that it was taking it easy around the deck, not a lot happening so I ended up taking a nap on the tea chest down on the 18th century deck. Not the most comfortable place to sleep but pretty soon most of the chests were taken. Its amazing where you can sleep when you’re really tired.

About 30 min into that we got the call for free hands up to deck for maintenance, the railings and so on needed painting so it was up to us to sand the flaking paint back. Its bloody messy work and we were soon all covered in black dust. Our shift was 1600-1800 so I went for a quick shower to get the dust off then back up on deck in safety vest and harness. First up I was on safety rounds, this is where you check the heading, wind and sea conditions, then down below decks to check on the ship conditions. This include down to the 20th century decks to checks heads (are they overflowing etc?) and so on then engine room. One of the things we were to check was the bilge – how much water has seeped into the bottom of the boat. Normally it’s around 3″ but it was over 8″ so we fired up the bilge pump to reduce it. The pump is electric – no hand pump like in Cook’s day and is on a timer so you can turn it on and forget about it, by next safety check it should have been pumped out.

We planned to anchor in Zoe Bay on Hinchinbrook Island overnight, as we came into the bay we had to drop sails which kept us all busy, then dropped anchor. That was a bit full on, then I was back down to the 20th century deck. for kitchen duty. Basically we were there to wash and dry up, it was all hard work with 2 settings of over 50 people in a confined space.

All done and eventually we can relax. Next watch is anchor watch so it’s only one hour- we have 0100 – 0200, not too bad.

Day 3 – Early shift

This morning we were woken at 0330 with a call to watch. Down to don warm clothes, grab safety vest and harness then up on deck. Oh shit it was cold! I was tempted to go back below and grab a jacket but we soon had jobs to do. The wind had picked up in the last half hour so we were making a decent speed. First job up was I got to take them helm. Two people man the helm, one is the “brawn” who helps muscle the helm over, and the other is the “brain”, who does all the thinking :-). You take half an hour on as the brawn, where you are simply applying muscle to help, then after that you swap with the brain, where you are responsible for keeping the course and making the direction changes. The helm has a number of spokes and you would call “three starboard” etc to indicate which direction to steer.

That was actually pretty taxing, and I was glad to be relieved on that. Follow helm we took the bow watch, other than noting Australia was still in front of us there wasn’t much else to do. We did get to see the sun come up and that was pretty amazing, got some great photos of that which I’ll upload later.

Soon after that Dirk wanted to change the sail rigging so we were hauling on ropes. One thing he did want done was to bring in the main staysail, which is one of the triangular sails between the fore and main mast so Bouncy called for volunteers and I quickly found myself climbing the foremast shrouds with him. I’d been up the main mast once before but that was while we were at anchor and this time we were underway and the ship was slightly rolling. I did get shakes going up even though it wasnt too difficult, still probably 15-20 feet down on to the deck below. Soon we had the sail stowed, tying it up took my mind off the fact that I was 20ft up standing on a single rope and trying to not to fall!

All too soon we were down again and tidying up the sails and ropes to Dirk’s liking. Pretty soon 0800 came around and we found ourselves relieved, down for breakfast! Cereal, bacon and eggs, toast and coffee – good after a hard morning’s work. Clean up then stow hammocks, then up on deck to relax a little bit. Shortly Captain Ross called morning meeting where he explained on the map where we were, after a slow start we’d made good progress and rather than stop at Palm Island we were going to instead make our way to Zoe Bay where we would probably anchor for the night. Hopefully our watch won’t get anchor duty again, but you never know your luck in the drawer.

Happy Hour after this, our watch got the task of cleaning the 20th century deck which is heads, showers, locker area and mess. The general rule is “Sit at sea”, however someone hadn’t so it was a bit of a messy job. Shower area clean and it was then the mess, lots of Mr Sheen and elbow grease and it was soon to Dirk’s liking. He was particularly impressed that we’d taken the effort to even organise the books into order, and we got the stamp of approval.

Time for a break now and get to write up my diary on deck, found a fairly comfortable spot up on the fore deck ย out of the wind which is good. Morning smoko soon, well morning tea as I don’t smoke and the ship is a non smoking zone anyway, but the names remain the same. Our next watch I think is 1600-1800 then I think we have 0000-0400 after that, another night shift.

Day 2 – Magnetic Island

Watch last night was from 10 until 11, pretty quiet and not a lot happened as we were at anchor. Once we are under sail the night watches will be four hours which should be from tonight onwards. After that we went back to bed and I slept well in the hammock.

We were supposed to be up at 7, however one of the watches started washing the deck which woke us up. Called up at 7 it was breakfast of cereal, baked beans and hash browns – food here is awesome. Our first job was cleaning the 18th century deck, which involved sweeping the floor, then they were scrubbed down with sea water which should stop mould forming then we swabbed with mops. Apparently cleaning is called “happy hour” – sense of humor indeed.

It was then time to raise the anchor, again our watch got lumbered with that messy job. Sam managed to get that muck all over her feet which isn’t coming off easily! Cleaned up and then we were slowly underway. We were on watch again although all jobs were taken so I spent most of the time talking to Captain Ross who was telling us a bit of the history of the ship and it’s building, how much work it was to plan this voyage and the challenges that they face.ย 

He used to be involved with the HMS Bounty on Sydney Harbour and he got involved with the HMB Endeavour about 7 years ago. Their aim is to keep it sailing as much as possible, and it’s voyage crew like us who make that possible. The Endeavour will be at sea until May next year which is a long time, then it will be going to Lord Howe Island for the transit of Venus. That sounds really interesting and I’m seriously thinking about taking part on that voyage. They were going to go to Tahiti – that would be even better but apparently LHI is the best vantage point for the transit.

We’ve had lunch – again fed well and now our watch is all sitting up on the fore deck enjoying the sun. I’ve even got mobile signal – Vodafone have better reception here than in Sydney so I’ve posted a few more photos and updated my trip notes on Facebook. Hard life indeed.

Later tonight I’ll update this entry more, for now I think I’ll just enjoy then sun!

Day 2 – continued…

After lunch we had a lecture from Captain Ross, he explained to us about the design of the Endeavour – basically she was a flat bottomed boat designed for hauling coal around the UK. It was built in Whitby as the Earl of Pembroke and they would sail these ships up the rivers and settle on the bottom at low tide to be unloaded. A number including the Endeavour and the Bounty were purchased by the Royal Navy and fitted out as ships of exploration. During this fit out detailed plans were made which survived until modern day, and these plans were the basis of the design of the replica Endeavour. There are a few bits that are incorrect, for example they now think the mizzen mast was too short however for the main part it’s pretty accurate.

He also explained to us how we sail with the wind, the Endeavour is a lot less flexible than modern ships and can only sail with the wind about 80deg to beam. This explains why there are so many wrecks of the east coast of Australia. Even today it’s a bit hairy at times, and apparently we did good today to sail off the pick (anchor) with a leeward wind.

After those lectures we had some free time so I used the opportunity to update my diary and also uploaded a few photos onto Facebook to share. We have mobile coverage at times including Internet so it’s let me share my journeys with friends online which has been cool.

1600 was arvo tea which was cake and custard – nice. After that we had a bit more free time, then it was basically put up our hammocks at 1705 and then called for dinner. Not used to dinner so early but we had the 1800-2000 watch. Dinner was sausages, mash and veggies with Enlish trifle for desert and then after that we were on watch.

Tonight it was full watch under sail so we took turns on the various positions. Stern watch is as it sounds, looking out back for boats overtaking. Forward watch is the opposite, looking out for stuff in front – boats, lighthouses that would indicate land etc. We also did the safety rounds where we check off all the stuff like heading, weather including wind speed and direction and sea surface. Down below we check the ship out, checking the engine room, ย bilge, fridge and freezer. Lots of responsibilities on us!

Unfortunately I missed the moon rise tonight, Sam said it was spectacular from the stern watch although I did get a few photos of it low over the water. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful watch, Deanne called so Adam could say hello and I uploaded a few more pics during the watch.

Right now I’m sitting in the galley typing up the diary or the days events. There are a few shipmates down here trying to read a bit, although really we should be getting some shuteye as we are up early again at 0400. I’ll get to see the sunrise so I’m pretty excited about that. That’ll be all for now, bed beckons.