DAY 1: A motley and fresh faced group of land lubbers arrived to our majestic sea taxi around midday. Much excitement and many nerves were felt as we gazed upon the lovely Tenacious, our home for better or worse during the next 21 days of voyaging. Hands are shaken and names are given, which most of us promptly forget; fortunately our crew are prepared with name tags!
Bunks are found, bags are stowed, and then the intrepid adventurers awkwardly navigate the lower corridors to the main mess for crew introductions and the oh-so-necessary safety lectures, made enjoyable thanks to the wonderful Fliss. Evacuation procedures are practiced before dinner is served, and then we are free for the evening.
The Tenacious gleams brightly against the night sky, a beacon of adventure; Melbourne sparkles distantly across the water. Tomorrow our voyage to Tasmania begins, with fair winds ahead (we hope!).
DAY 2: Salty sea dogs are all cheerfully awoken at 0620 and stumble on deck as quickly as possible for the setting of the engines. There is not a scrap of wind available, so today we make our way out of Port Phillip Bay under modern means. The sun is shining and the sea is clear; perfect conditions for our introduction to climbing. Up the fore and main mast we scuttled, packing onto the first platform like penguins. Then we daringly leap (inch) onto the lower topsail yard, shimmying across with bellies squashed firmly against the folded sails, alternating between feelings of triumph and terror.
Afternoon sees us learning some sail theory on bracing, hauling and easing on ropes, and the general handling of lines. The watches team together to practice some bracing manoeuvres from port to starboard and back again.
Lo! A cry of dolphins is heard from the bow! A swarm of voyagers gallop carefully up to the ship’s front and lean precariously over edges to watch dolphins racing in from all directions. They dance in the bow waves of Tenacious, chattering and singing to each other merrily, generally porpoising about the ship.
The swell has swelled slightly, enough to send our ship plunging in and out of the sea. A few stoic individuals make their way to the handrails and look greenly out at the horizon. Sea sickness has made its presence known…
Another fine dinner (for those that show up to eat it) and the watches settle down for our first rotation at sea. The moon and stars gild the ship silver and the soft crash of the waves sends those of us in our bunks fast to sleep.
DAY 3: A few queasy faces arrive to breakfast this morning but for the most part the crew are chipper and ready to greet another calm and sunny day. At last we are able to turn off the engines and move ourselves along purely through wind power! We manage to set the outer jib, inner-jib, fore-course, fore upper topsail, main lower sail, main upper topsail, mizzen mast staysail and the main mast staysail. If you feel overwhelmed by all these nautical terms, rest easy in the knowledge that we intrepid adventurers have clearly mastered it all (this writer definitely did not ask for help on naming sails).
Our evening is fairly relaxed. A few explorers climb to the top of our masts, a few gather below decks to craft magnificent pipe cleaner crowns, and a few sleep soundly in their bunks! Tonight the action begins, for we are to attempt our first “wearing” of the ship for our approach into Burnie.
Wish us luck!
What a day! After being banished from New Zealand we made our way to our permitted area in the Tasman Bay outside the territorial waters to wait out the storm that we had been avoiding most of the voyage.
On the way Gabe did a bit of fishing and caught three barracuda and two king fish. He had a bit of help from Dave with the subsequent dealings after landing which left a bit of blood and guts on the deck. As the youngest in the group Gabe was detailed to scrub and sluice down the suitably named poop deck.
Shortly after there was a shout of “Orca” as a pod of Killer Whales were seen close in on the starboard beam. Fliss put out an announcement on the tannoy which brought most of the crew up to the rail. Maybe it was the smell of blood in the water, maybe curiosity. Either way it was a fantastic sight.
As the night progressed the wind and sea picked up, Aft Port watch on 20:00 – 24:00 had winds gusting to 53 knots and the ship heeling sufficiently to ring the bell 23 times each one met with a resounding cheer. Waves were breaking hard on the port side sending water across the deck, even spraying the wheelhouse. Fortunately the sky was clear, it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t cold. At the change of watch the bosun’s mates were woken as well and the oncoming watch warned to wear waterproofs. Some of the permanent crew appeared too as we tacked the ship which involved furling and then unfurling on the other side the outer jib, main staysail and mizzen staysail all on a wet, heaving deck in a gale.
Once released from watch and heading to bed we reflected on the loudly voiced opinion from one of the watch members who wasn’t enjoying it quite as much as the rest of us. “You people are ******** crazy.”
Today while we are still stooging around in the bay when we came on watch it was so cold and windy some were going below to get more layers on. Heading due south making 0.5 knot looking at the scenery around us including the snow covered alps which is probably where the freezing wind is coming from. We just dodged a big rain storm that went behind us.
Now we have reversed course to NNE doing 6 knots under bare poles and the sun is bright and hot so people are starting to overheat but we are also heading back towards the rainstorm that we missed earlier. Kiwi band Crowded House had a hit with a song about NZ called ‘Four seasons in one day,’ we now know what they are talking about.
Aft Port Out
With a brisk wind coming from the snow covered peaks of the mountains, the afternoon watch was graced with the sight of two sea lions playing in the waves off the Port side. Soon afterwards, as the wind and waves picked up a little, a pod of Common Dolphins came to play in the bow wave, tempting those who wanted to take photos to risk the spray of the waves as our ship danced through the waves with them.
An exhausted (and now minimised) crew cheered with the news of a full night of rest thanks to the decision to anchor Tenacious for the night. Taking advantage of the free time, many chose to catch up on sleep, while the rest joined in the fun of the quiz night put together by the wonderful Tracey (though many of the questions were severely biased to British knowledge, to the dismay of the Aussie members of the crew).
The morning saw us working together again to brace the yards and set sails, with the entire foremast out on show, despite the Royal’s ropes being a little stubborn. By 9am we had weighed anchor and were on our way towards Christchurch, with Mount Taranaki on the North Island visible on the horizon – 90 nautical miles away.