Lord Nelson Ships Log STW23 Day 7 – Day 8

The smell of burning drippings and charcoal, along with the cloying sweetness of tropical punch, is drifting across to Tonga Island this evening on the Tasman Bay. The Lord Nelson, in celebration of a voyage nearly reaching its leisurely conclusion, is celebrating, with a sundown BBQ on the bridge. The music can’t quite drown out the convivial chat, the sporadic bursts of laughter (never louder than from Stretch, gesturing wildly in the midst of some of engrossing tale) and the mechanical whirr-beep-whistle from the charthouse. However, some crew members’ thoughts have turned to home, and they find themselves in quiet repose. One shifts slightly and murmurs to himself “I wonder…” before glancing down at the screen of his phone and rumbling with satisfaction “Nope. No mobile reception. At all.”

And we have a lot to celebrate. Though this voyage has been relatively short in sea miles, it’s marked some big steps for individual members of the crew. The fair winds yesterday granted members of the voyage crew the opportunity to step to the plate, and call the sail commands themselves. The novelty of the whole process disposed of much of authoritarian rigour traditionally associated with the hardened jacks of a square rigger. “Set the… haul on the clews” directs Tobias, “..please” He mumbles, on receipt of a benignly reproachful look from one of our ‘universal mothers’ on-board.

So with a minimum of fuss, we almost set the lot’s’ls. For those not up on their rig, we had out a bunch of little sails, some big sails, some triangular sails for garnishing and the cheekily named ‘spanker’ sail out the back. For those reading, and fondly recalling their own times at sea, that translates to everything, sans the main course (for its shadowing effect on the foremast), and the outer jib, which is in the midst of some maintenance.

Andy took the helm as we set t’gallants and royals, having manoeuvred himself (with alittle help) from his wheelchair to the helm seat. Proud mum Anne was almost entirely oblivious to the splendid array of sail, snapping photo after photo of her son as he kept the course. The verve and enthusiasm of the entire crew kept us buoyed up till we dropped anchor at our present position. It even saw Claire ditch the galley apron and sprint aloft in the setting sun, in spite of her minor trepidation at the height.

Before I sign off to swing by the charcoal burner and load up on satay chicken and couscous, I have been enthusiastically petitioned – by crew Anne and Carolyn – to pass on an honourable mention to Anne and Carolyn, for surpassing Alli’s stringent window cleaning standards. Congratulations to you both.