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Captains Log -  a summary of Legs 22 to 26

via a memo to Her  Excellency the Governor of NSW

 

Report to Her Excellency,

Professor Marie Bashir AC

Governor of New South Wales

10th August 2003

Your Excellency

Following the successful completion of the voyage, here is report # 3, being my final report. My last report concluded when we had reached Port Lincoln in South Australia.

Following my very welcome week’s leave I returned to the ship and proceeded to get her ready for sea. Prior to departing Port Lincoln, we conducted a half day sail for the local population, which was very welcome. A local Sea Shanty group offered to come out and perform for us as their contribution to the success of our voyage. It was a wonderful afternoon, sailing happily along surrounded by the most melodious sea shanties. The event was so popular and the shantymen so enthusiastic that we repeated the event the next day. Another lovely thing that happened to us in Port Lincoln was the discovery by the local Rotary official that we were having problems with mobile communications while we were off shore. Consequently, as he was the local Telstra Manager, he provided us with access to CDMA coverage and an external aerial to increase the coverage even further.

We had decided when leaving Port Lincoln we would head North, calling in at the Sir Joseph Banks group of Islands and then heading across to Tumby Bay, further up into Spencer Gulf. The local school there was anxious to see us. In the Sir Joseph Banks group, we anchored, seeking shelter from a blustery South Easterly wind, which was threatening to prevent our visit to Tumby. Again, we found ourselves anchored in the same position as Investigator, and again we went ashore to find nothing had changed and we might as well have been Flinders and his crew landing there for the first time. We sailed the next morning and ran across to Tumby Bay only to find that the swell, "kicked up" by the South Easterly was blowing right in on the wharf. We were forced to wait until 1330 before attempting to go alongside, and when we did, the surge was so great it was decided it was too unsafe to erect the gangway. As a consequence, unfortunately, the schoolchildren had to be content with meeting us all, including trim, on the wharf. After a short, but exciting visit we cast off and headed in the general direction of Adelaide, however there was one planned stop, at Kangaroo Island.

Anchoring in accordance with Matthew Flinders logs found us off the mouth of American River, so named because of the later proliferation of American sealing ships, but at that time, named by Flinders as East Cove of Nepean Bay. The river itself led to a large lagoon, named by Flinders as Pelican Lagoon. Flinders spent many days there, and he wrote his now famous discourse "Alas for the Pelicans". He penned

"There are four small islands in the eastern branch of Nepean Bay: One of them is moderately high and woody, the others are grassy and lower; and upon two of these we found many young pelicans, unable to fly.

Flocks of the old birds were sitting upon the beaches of the lagoon, and it appeared that the islands were their breeding places; not only so, but from the number of skeletons and bones there scattered, it should seem that they had for ages been selected for the closing scene of their existence. Certainly none more likely to be free from disturbance of every kind could have been chosen, than these islets in a hidden lagoon of an uninhabited island, situate upon an unknown coast near the Antipodes of Europe; nor can anything be more consonant to the feelings, if pelicans have any, than quietly to resign their breath, whilst surrounded by their progeny, and in the same spot where they first drew it. Alas for the pelicans, for their golden age is past; but it has much exceeded in duration that of man.

I was very moved by Flinders’ writing of this passage and very much looking forward to visiting the lagoon to see what was there now. I had a 2nd mission to fulfil – to find the cove William Westall drew and later painted. I didn’t hold much hope for this as Westall, we had long since discovered, was notorious for using much artistic license and combining facets of several different scenes into one picture. Alas, the weather blew up preventing a landing due to the rough conditions. The queue of smokers keen to get ashore was in total dismay when I announced a delay until at least the next day. The next day was no better and we reluctantly weighed anchor and set sail for Port Adelaide, with the smokers gazing longingly over the stern at the receding island.

24 hours later, the entrance to the Port River was in sight. Little did we know it, but we were sailing into a storm. It was a peaceful enough arrival with a warm welcome from Captain Ian Kuhl, CEO of the One & All and followed later by an official reception by the Port Adelaide Council. Over the next few days, what transpired was an approach from a group of locals fighting a Government plan to build two bridges over the Port River that would result in the historic wharf precincts of Port Adelaide being inaccessible to Tall Ships generally, and local vessels such as One & All in particular. We were happy to lend a shoulder to the cause and many rallies were held resulting in a very large public meeting at which the State Government announced, although the 2 bridges would still be built, lifting spans in both of them would ensure continued access to shipping to this historic South Australian port.

Port Adelaide is a wonderful port, with a magnificent Maritime Museum containing many important relics of Matthew Flinders voyage, wonderful old pubs and a developing Café Society. I attended the Anzac Day ceremony held at the premises of the Naval Association’s Port Adelaide Sub-section at which our 2 young trainees also marched with the Australian Navy Cadets. The service was followed by a true Navy breakfast. While in Adelaide, we conducted a series of highly productive fund-raising daysails on the Port River, viewing the famous Port River Dolphins and having a riverside view of the visiting giant Italian Sail Training vessel Amerigo Vespucci. The Port river dolphins are a unique species which have always lived in the river and never venture out to sea. Whilst in Port Adelaide, we also changed some of our crew, our two Trainees returned home to their family in Carnarvon and our 1st Mate, Peter McKinnon returned to his long suffering Training business. Peter would be hard to replace, had not one of our previous crew, Gerry Fitzgerald who had just returned from delivering a 60 ft yacht to South America, been available. 

Among all the other wonderful things that happened during our Adelaide stay, two things really stood out on a personal level. One was the generosity of Richard Wilson, a farmer from Balaklava, who, having sailed with us on a daysail at Broome, offered to take Jennie and myself up to the head of St.Vincent’s Gulf to the place where Flinders landed which became known as Port Arthur. This was a wonderful opportunity to make a pilgrimage to a place now out of reach to Windeward Bound due to silting up of the head of the Gulf. Richard picked us up bright and early and we headed north to Port Wakefield, the first stop on the "Flinders Trail". We had looked at the various ports at the head of the gulf on the Ship’s charts and decided perhaps we shouldn’t go there. Well, the term "Port" is a leftover from the days of the trading ketches and grain clippers and there was no way we could have entered any of them! From Port Wakefield, we headed up to the high ground described by Flinders and we took in the same view first seen by Flinders. Little has changed except bare ground has given way to large neat paddocks and the odd farmhouse.

The second wonderful experience was two glorious days spent in the Flinders archives of the Flinders University where we were able to pore over many artefacts and journals previously unknown to me. Included in these was a letter from Matthew to Anne, written on 18th October 1802 and received in England on 9th October 1803. A far cry from the communication systems we enjoy today!

During our stay at Port Adelaide, Trim continued her explorations of the immediate vicinity of the ship, inspecting with great diligence the pigeons that lived in the pipework in the wharf-face. Their comings and goings fascinated her constantly, although she reluctantly decided they were out of her reach.

We finally sailed from Port Adelaide bound for Warnambool and Portland. But first we had unfinished business at Kangaroo Island. Whilst in Adelaide, I had learnt from Ian Kuhl that he had taken One & All into American river at half tide, so with some newfound knowledge, away we went and eased into the channel an hour before high tide only to gently run aground. We came off easily, moved right over close to the channel markers and tried again. This time we were successful and slid through the channel with a foot to spare under the keel. We anchored in safe water inside and prepared for the next days’ events, the search for Westall’s cove and an exploration of Pelican Lagoon.

Firstly, we found Westall’s cove without too much difficulty, well, that is we found the cove but could not be certain it was the one until we had searched the entire inlet to rule out anywhere else. As usual, Westall had used a certain amount of license, adding hills that weren’t there etc., however the unmistakable landmarks, a tree with three trunks and a rock face were still there as was the unmistakable curvature of the cove and the slope of the beach. I took photos from the same angle and position he obviously stood to get his perspective, and comparing them on board later, it was unmistakeable. Subsequently, one of the voyage crew produced a painting to complete the circle.

We then ran deeper into the lagoon to the islands, where, although their numbers were much depleted from Flinders descriptions, many pelicans were still in residence. Nothing appears to have changed within the lagoon itself, and although there are now a small handful of homes along part of the shoreline, the islands are as they have always been. Their golden age may well be past, but the presence of mankind does not appear to infringe on their habitat.

Weighing anchor we slid back out to sea on that night’s high tide, with a sense of total satisfaction, bound for Portland in Victoria via Victor Harbour, Encounter Bay and Beachport. Our first port of call was Victor Harbour, an historic grain port, and now, a holiday destination for the folks of Adelaide. The Harbour itself lies behind a large breakwater, has plenty of water depth but no wharf. The local Tourism people and the local council has combined with the Granite Island Nature Reserve people to stir up local interest, take bookings for ship inspections and the day sail, and ferry the populace out to us. This added to the adventure for everyone, although I was amazed at some people younger than myself who had great difficulty boarding us from the other vessel. We had an extremely good sail with the ship being full. After the sail, some of our crew went ashore to explore the historic township. Weighing anchor we headed out to sea and sailed across Encounter Bay to the precise spot where Flinders and Baudin had their historic encounter. We stopped the ship once there and spent a little time reflecting on the feelings that must have been welling up in both of them. To be so far from home, thinking they were each on their own, and then to unexpectedly come across each other must have been quite a shock. Yet, neither realised how close they were to the mouth of the mighty Murray River and that great inland waterway.

We sailed on from there, heading for the small township of Beachport. The kind people of Beachport had, some months before, invited us all to a Bar-B-Que and reception and we were determined not to disappoint them. We had a good sail overnight with an expected arrival time of 0800 the next day. The next morning, however, saw us right in the middle of the thickest sea fog I have seen in years. We were forced to heave to and wait for a couple of hours until the fog lifted or thinned. Finally under way, we crept gingerly towards the port. The word port is almost a euphanism as the port consists of a wharf jutting straight out into a tiny curve in the coast. Suddenly, out of the fog loomed the end of the wharf and a few ghostly shapes of fishing boats moored off. The fog seemed to part for us as we turned to come alongside. What we weren’t prepared for was the enormous surge, far worse than experienced later at Grassy on King Island. We suffered the surge for a while in order to allow some of the locals to have a look over the ship. It wasn’t too long however, before the decision was made to leave the wharf and anchor off. The township was very historic and very interesting, and the hospitality at the Bar-B-Que was well worth the stop over. The weather went nasty that night, keeping us on the anchor at Beachport for a further 2 days, although being too rough to launch the Zodiac and let anyone ashore. Finally the wind abated and were able to get under way once more.

It was an uneventful sail to Portland, smooth seas and a favourable wind. The only drama occurred 2 days out of Portland when it appeared we might not have a berth due to the unforeseen number of fishing vessels already berthed there. In due course and after much discussion via the Satphone with the harbourmaster and various fishermen, a berth was found and all was well. We were met in Portland with the usual amount of local enthusiasm. The only thing wrong was the bitter cold which had slowly been catching up with us as we moved along the coast and deeper into winter. The night of our reception, it was so cold we were forced to hold the reception below in our saloon. 35 guests and the crew was quite a feat and reminiscent of the Cocktail party I once attended in an Oberon class submarine. The star of the night was Trim, who, obviously feeling sorry for the local field mice, brought one on board and down to the saloon where it was by this time, quite warm, and promptly let it go, to the consternation of all. Needless to say, there was work to be done later that night! With regard to the cold, the next day I went into town and bought my first ever pair of Ugg Boots. From that point on, life looked up. Soon enough it was time to set sail for Melbourne, however, first there was a call to Warnambool.

The trip to Warnambool was uneventful and we finally arrived at that port with a certain amount of trepidation as we had been advised we might not be able to anchor there. Fortunately the seas were kind to us, and we anchored in Lady Bay behind the breakwater with 1.3 metres of water under the keel at low tide. The management of the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum kindly invited us up to the complex, an offer that was eagerly accepted. Mindful of the water depth, the size of the harbour and the 28 wrecks scattered around the bay, caution prevailed and we maintained half the Ship’s Company on board and swapped them around. The museum is an amazing complex and well worth revisiting. We were forced to weigh anchor at 0330 in the morning and put to sea due to a 90-degree wind shift, which threatened to have us aground. It was an excellent experience for the anchor watch and a first hand lesson in why anchor watches are so important.

As we sailed past the Twelve Apostles and Cape Otway, the feelings of intensity in our history grew. After all, this was the Shipwreck Coast. As we approached the point to turn North for Port Phillip, and being several days ahead of schedule because of the favourable winds, I made a decision to make the best use of the winds and head south down the East coast of King Island to Grassy, where we arrived at 0800 the next morning. We went alongside, hoping that the violent surges we experienced last time we were there may have diminished. We quickly discovered they hadn’t so we moved off the wharf and went to anchor 200 metres out and ferried everyone ashore.

The main interest for visitors is the King Island Cheese Factory at Currie on the western side of the Island. At the factory shop, everyone stocked up on seriously bargain priced cheese before setting out on a tour of the rest of the island. Back on board we were visited by a grade 9 class from Ballarat & Clarendon Colleges who maintain a permanent campus on the Island. It was a fascinating insight into a different form of education where a new grade 9 group starts every term. We recovered our shore party (with cheeses), weighed anchor and got underway with the next milestone being the Port Philip heads and the dreaded "RIP".

We had a relatively easy run up the Coast of King Island and across the western entrance to Bass Strait. As we approached the Victorian coast, the number of ships grew and it became time to consult the Australian Pilot for the protocols on entering Port Phillip and the knowledge required to calculate the correct time of entry. While working all this out, I was pondering on the first time Flinders and his crew entered, with no pilot and no knowledge, under sail and with no engine to assist. I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. However, we followed instructions from the Pt. Lonsdale signal station (who direct all traffic) and before we knew it, we were inside with none of the expected stress or problems. For us, this was a another major milestone, we were on "the bay" on whose shores stand Australia’s second biggest city, the place where John Batman, on his first visit from Launceston, declared "What a wonderful site for a village". Well, the village has grown somewhat and is now a cosmopolitan metropolis. Before going to the City of Melbourne, a visit to the City of Geelong was in order, and so we headed off to the west down the channel.

When we arrived in Geelong, we found, to our delight, the small Melbourne based Tall Ship "Enterprize" was also there for the weekend. Enterprize is a replica of the same vessel that brought the aforementioned John Batman to the future city of Melbourne. She is a neat little craft, sails very well and has an ex crewmember of ours in her crew. We had a daysail committed and we sailed with a full ship. Enterprize sailed at the same moment and set off in pursuit of us, hoping, I suppose to do what I had once seen her do with Bark Endeavour, and trounce her under sail. Well, she discovered very quickly the difference between 1800 British designs and 1840’s American designs. She was left well in our wake, much to the enjoyment of our passengers who were treated to the rare and unexpected experience of two Square-riggers "Squaring off" against each other. Geelong was also the start of another unexpected support. A group of volunteer guides from Bark Endeavour, being short of their own ship, called and availed themselves of the large task of "Guiding", handling Merchandise sales and shoreside inquiries etc. This was very welcome, and for them was a "dress rehearsal" for the 2 weeks in Melbourne.

While in Geelong, our most important visitors were the students from Matthew Flinders College. You will recall from previous reports, that we had a student on the voyage in Queensland from the Queensland Matthew Flinders College at Buderim, on the Sunshine Coast. This time an entire grade came down to the ship and we had a wonderful day on board. They were very appreciative and presented me with a bottle of the best local wine. These two schools, Buderim and Geelong are the only schools in Australia bearing Matthew Flinders name.

On Monday, we set sail from Geelong and headed back up the channel towards Melbourne itself. We were unprepared for the Media blitz that followed, at 0800 the first chopper appeared and it was Channel 9. They spent a considerable time filming from the air and then requested us to pick up their news crew by Zodiac and bring them on board. They spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon filming and interviewing and we dropped them back ashore. We had just struck the sails to motor the final 5 miles when Channel 10 appeared, and of course they wanted shots under sail and so we did it all again, then finally it was 7’s turn! The attention of course was wonderful, but a shock to our system after so long away from the "Big Smoke". We realised it had been 15 months spent mostly in very isolated areas since we had seen a city as big as Sydney or Melbourne.

We were lucky enough to be given a berth in the heart of Melbourne at Docklands, almost in the shadow of the Telstra Dome (Mecca for the AFL fanatic on board, i.e. the cook) I think I earned many brownie points from her for getting her so close to the "action". Lend Lease put on power and water especially for us and we settled in to 2 weeks of school visits, harbour sails, shopping, eating and drinking Melbourne’s famous coffee. It was also a family "catch-up" time for some of us, including Jennie, who has many family members here. The media exposure continued with radio discussion programs etc and a formal reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. I tried unsuccessfully to avoid the delights of the South Melbourne shops.

The Endeavour Guides became invaluable during the stay in Melbourne as we had 3 school groups per day every day and their presence meant the ship’s staff crew were able to attend to both their own and the ship’s needs. By the time we left we had sailed up and down the Yarra River 6 times. We were very surprised when, on one daysail, we logged a pair of dolphins at Williamstown. The Yarra River of today is a far cry from the Yarra River I first saw back in 1963. Then it had the unkind, but appropriate, reputation of "flowing upside down". Now it is clean enough for dolphins!

We sailed from Melbourne on the 18th June, bound for King Island again, and then to Devonport in Tasmania. The trip back down to Grassy was uneventful, we passed Boulder Point, the spot where Flinders anchored briefly. The delights of the cheese factory were again tasted and we weighed anchor and headed east towards the Tasmanian Coast. We spent a day at anchor at Three Hummock Island (visited by Flinders in 1798), where an intrepid few went for a swim BRRRRRR! We then, being ahead of schedule, decided to call into Stanley. Stanley is one of the oldest ports on the North coast of Tasmania and is the port for the far North West corner.

The people of Stanley were most welcoming and we received a visit from the entire Stanley Primary School, 39 pupils and they impressed all the crew with their detailed knowledge of Marine animals and the environment. All the crew had the opportunity to visit the town itself &, for some on board, it was their first visit to the state. Although we had been to King Island, and although the Island is part of Tasmania, the Islanders appear to consider themselves Victorians. We sailed from Stanley, bound for Devonport. After an uneventful run along the Strait, we entered the Mersey River and Devonport almost exactly 3 years since we were last there on our way to Sydney to begin preparing for this voyage.

We had arranged a berth at the Mersey Yacht Club for the duration, although a few days prior to our arrival we had been advised the berth had been damaged by a large visiting catamaran and may not be available. This created quite a dilemma for us, as with Devonport’s 3.0 metre tides and fully booked program of school events, the pontoon berth at the Yacht club was simply the only option. The thought of cancelling the play and entire schools program at that late stage was very unpalatable. Thanks to the practicality of the Commodore and the Club itself, they were able to repair it on time and we were able to breathe again. Flinders had enough troubles of his own, but nothing of this nature.

We spent a very busy but pleasant week catching up with old friends and more of Jennie’s family, Dirk the 2nd Mate and I drove to Hobart to get more cordage from our lay-apart store, there was another Civic Reception, and all too soon it was time to leave Tasmania for the trip north to Port Welshpool and Sydney. First though, we had an experimental visit to Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar River. The pilot station and associated buildings at Low Head date back to 1805 and is still the Pilots Harbour. Flinders discovered the river entrance and charted its course with George Bass in the Norfolk in 1798. The first building was erected in 1805, whilst Flinders was imprisoned on Mauritius. The whole settlement has been lovingly maintained and it’s there we are bound for the coming summer, as part of the Marketing Plan the Tasmanian Government is embarking upon.

We had intended to go from Low Head to Preservation Island, the site of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, Australia’s first shipwreck, and again, visited by Flinders in the course of recovering its cargo. Sadly, the wind shifted against us and we had to abandon the attempt to go there and head straight to Deal Island in the Kent Group (also charted and named by Flinders in 1798). We arrived off the Islands early in the morning, sailed up Murray Pass and anchored in the lee of Erith Island not far from the wreck of the "Bulli" (a collier sunk there after hitting a rock in the 1920’s). While the voyage crew went ashore, Dirk and I went looking for the wreck with the viewing glass, finding it after 20 or so minutes. I will never forget the two dives I had on the wreck on previous visits. Our voyage crew spent a happy time visiting the lighthouse, no longer used, and an almighty climb but according to all, well worthwhile. We stayed at Deal for 2 days, re-anchoring frequently due to the anchor dragging in the poor holding ground. The bottom is very fine sand over solid rock, so there is virtually nothing for the anchor to hold onto, and that combined with the extreme tideflow through the Pass, makes for an "interesting" anchorage.

Leaving Deal Island behind, we ran the 40 or so miles to Port Welshpool with a quartering wind. Arriving off Port Welshpool, we were met by the pilot who was delivered out to us by a traditional Cornish Pilot cutter. It was a hark back into history, as we ran downwind under sail and were boarded by the pilot with the cutter under sail as well. It was good seamanship all round as both vessels came together in the open sea, running at about 5 knots. We then negotiated the tricky, winding channel into the port itself. What a delightful, sheltered place, despite suffering the withdrawal of the seacat Ferry service from Tasmania. Lots of infrastructure, but not a lot of business. It was our intention to hold an open ship, and the local Coastcare co-ordinator, Bruce Aitkins, got together with the local tourism people, planned and publicised the event and the end result was a constant stream of visitors. On the one day, we played host to over three thousand visitors, some having travelled 160 miles to get there. It was by far the port with the smallest population, however it was the port with the greatest number of visitors in one day of any port anywhere in the country.

We sailed from Port Welshpool on the 11th of July, and as we left the wharf there was a 30 knot wind blowing, which was touching 40 knots by the time we cleared the channel. Blessedly, the wind was from the south, we set the lower tops’l only, and by the time we had settled the ship down, she was racing along at 9 knots. It was a most exhilarating feeling. Regretfully, we resisted the temptation to set more sail as it was the first day of the final voyage. It’s never a good idea to risk overloading the ship in the early days of a voyage, before the new voyage crew have settled in.

The fantastic run north continued until we passed Gabo Island and crossed into NSW. The wind immediately disappeared and it felt 5 degrees warmer. The wind truly just disappeared, leaving us virtually drifting along. We finally made Twofold Bay and came alongside at Eden having only used our engine for about 2 hours during that whole leg.

We had a pleasant day and overnight in Eden, the voyage crew taking in the local sights, much Ship’s business being done, and the crew being shown over the new Defence Maritime Services vessel Seahorse Mercator(berthed behind us), in Eden training RAN recruits. We sailed from Eden after lunch on the 2nd day, passing Seahorse Mercator doing trials on Twofold Bay. We set sail out in the middle of the bay, and from a standing start, in a 12 knot wind, we were soon doing 6 knots. We sailed out of the bay, and predictably, in less than an hour we were becalmed. As darkness fell we were about 6 miles out to sea when we noticed the lights of a ship about 2 miles to seaward of us. It appeared to slowdown and then stop, where it remained for well over an hour. At that point, we became suspicious, and began to wonder what it was up to, finally deciding to call customswatch. They were most interested and took down all the details, promising to call us back. This they finally did, only to advise us that the mystery vessel was Seahorse Mercator. She had apparently slipped out to sea again, still, Customs were grateful for the info and we were grateful for the exercise. Seahorse Mercator were, I hope, suitably amused.

Our first port of call after Eden was to Bateman’s Bay. We duly entered the bay only to find the sandbar into the entrance channel silted up, forcing us to anchor outside the town. This was disappointing, as we had announced our impending arrival on behalf of Coastcare. However, we anchored and sent the boat ashore to do a Marine Debris recce on the nearby islands. We were visited by a number of locals and we were used by some locals to push the point in the media to have the channel dredged.

We sailed from Bateman’s Bay, heading for Ulladulla, arriving there the next morning on the dot of 10.00. Ulladulla is a beautiful little harbour, very picturesque and there was an enthusiastic crowd waiting to welcome us. We were met there by the local Coastcare Facilitator John King, who had sailed on the first leg of the voyage with us and had hoped to finish the last leg. Alas, personal commitments prevented this and so he had to be satisfied with an overnight sail to Jervis Bay. We sailed that night and with a pleasant quartering wind arrived in Jervis Bay and anchored off the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell, being visited shortly after by the Boats Officer. It was agreed that the duty personnel would provide a guided tour for our voyage crew and we would provide a guided tour for the Midshipmen and Cadet Officers there for training that weekend. A happy and interesting series of visits ensued, and resulted in at least two of our people becoming interested in a Naval career.

We arrived in Kiama on a Sunday morning where, blessedly, the sea was flat, however, Kiama Harbour is considerably smaller than Ulladulla, and the only deep berth is right in the entrance, right in the middle of the surge. The oversize truck tyres were both a blessing and a hindrance. A blessing because they kept the body of the ship off the stone harbour wall, and a hindrance because the edges of the tyres kept catching on the channels as the ship surged back & forth. In spite of this, the visit was a success, with many locals looking over the vessel. We even met the sculptor who made the bronze version of Trim that sits on the windowsill of the State Library of NSW looking up at the statue of Flinders. We were joined at Kiama by my cousin Kel O’Neill who has sailed on a number of legs before and my brother Rick who I have been trying to get on board ever since Windeward Bound was commissioned. Due to the surge, we slipped and departed as soon as the last visitor had left, bound for Port Kembla.

On arrival at Port Kembla harbour, we discovered, to our dismay, there was no wharf available that provided access to the public. All wharves in that harbour are now under a security blanket because of the public liability risk, however we were offered a berth, though not open to the public, for the day. We decided to take the option and give the ship’s company a rest, as well as an opportunity to clean and ready the ship for our arrival in Sydney. The rest of the day passed quickly. The First Mate, Mal, and I went to Wollongong to double check the boat harbour there on the vague chance we might have been able to get in there. Unfortunately, again, not enough water, so it was back to the ship, back to sea and heading for a nostalgic anchorage at Jibbon Beach, at the mouth of Port Hacking, the beautiful southern Sydney waterway where I had the good fortune to grow up. All seemed well in the world when, that night, we dropped anchor in familiar territory. Port Hacking was explored by Flinders and Bass in the Tom Thumb, and named by Flinders after Henry Hacking who had fished there.

Landing on the beach the next morning was full of memories for all the years previously spent there, nothing much had changed, except there was a better path to the Aboriginal rock carvings. It’s rare that one can revisit the scenes of their childhood and early adulthood and find so little change so many years later. We sailed from there in the middle afternoon, bound for Sydney Harbour and an overnight anchorage at Quarantine Cove near Manly, ready for the sail up Sydney Harbour and a warm Sydney welcome the next morning. I had already promised the ship’s company a concert that night when we anchored and their creative juices had been flowing all day. However, the sea wasn’t finished with us yet, the relatively gentle North Easterly became a full on gale with winds verging on 40 knots. Our easy 3 to 4 hour run became a miserably slow 12 hour slog, finally coming to anchor at 01.30 in the morning. The exhausted crew took ourselves off to bed , however even that was shortlived. At 0230, I was awoken by the anchor watch, the wind had swung into the West and was blowing hard. Our nice snug anchorage was now totally exposed. There was little choice but to motor further into the Harbour and shelter behind Bradley’s Head, in Taylor’s Bay. Here we passed the rest of the night in peace, and early next morning, started preparing for the final run to Woolloomooloo.

We were overcome when, as we appeared around Bradley’s Head, first the helicopters came, and then, as if by a miracle, the wind swung far enough into the north to enable us to set some square sail for the final run home. I am positive Matthew Flinders had his hand in this, as the velocity of the wind seemed to increase or decrease according to whether we needed more or less speed. It was though he was there to the last, and we were able to hold sail right up until the edge of the Marina. The wind kept easing as we came gently alongside to the strains of the Royal Australian Navy Band.

Your Excellency, the rest is now history, we were honoured to have you in our midst once again. It was, as I have previously stated, extremely fitting the voyage should end as it did, and in your presence. I can confidently and happily report all the targets of the voyage were met, and that this wonderful country of ours is in the best possible hands, those of the Australian People. I believe that Matthew Flinders can rest easy, and be very proud of the legacy of his incredible work. I believe he would express pride and satisfaction at the way we are now looking after "his" country, and how the Australia of today, on the whole, support, accept, and take great interest in the indigenous Australians. Flinders was right to call the indigenous people "Australians" and he recognised their right to this country when it was perhaps unfashionable to do so.

The voyage was not without its perils, trials and tribulations, both financial, emotional, psychological and physical. I witnessed all the crew at some time or another succumb to one or all of these, and indeed, I was no exception. The biggest problem was, for me, as Commanding Officer, to maintain a solid presence at all times. This was difficult enough, and I found, as Flinders did, that discussing these issues with Trim seemed to help. At least she kept my thoughts to herself! If nothing else, it increased my respect and admiration for Matthew Flinders manyfold. To have followed his voyage almost to the letter and in about the same timeframe; to have had the privilege of reading daily from his own personal log; to have witnessed first hand some of the very issues he had to deal with, made us all realise the enormity of the task he undertook. We had only to deal with 25 or so people, and some of them for only 2 weeks at a time; he dealt with 94, for what must have, to them, seemed an endless endeavour. That he could maintain morale, discipline and humour, without resorting unduly to the brutality of the lash is nothing short of miraculous, at least by the standards and attitudes of today.

Your Excellency, I am, we are, proud to have you as our Patron and I hope this series of humble reports has given you some insight into our activities. I close with the following dedication to The Man And the Voyage, both his and ours.

Flinders waters these, I combed our beach
Off which he’d sailed, as we have sailed, it’s leagues. I like to speak of leagues and kindred knots; such speech sounds nautical, has the atmosphere I seek.

Speaking of Flinders, like the Admiralty charts you buy from Harbours and Marine, which show His soundings, His Authority. Navigation starts with Flinders in our seas.

What more we know is mere embellishment of Flinders’ soundings - a channel silted here, new sandbanks there; but basically the same. The sea- lane’s windings
As Flinders mapped them painstakingly, with care:
6 fathoms, 5 fathoms, 4 fathoms – the numbers only, printed;
by dint of seamanship no soundings stinted John Blight 1975

Your Excellency
My kindest Regards

Captain Sarah Parry
Master
Windeward Bound
The Flinders Ship

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