On my return journey home after visiting the Endeavour on Good Friday at Greenwich I met two guides who mentioned that The Endeavour Foundation was short of Volunteer Guides, and suggested that if I was interested I should contact Frank Rivell, the Guides co-ordinator. Needing hardly any persuasion I rang Frank and arranged a meeting, and consequently signed on for duty.
My first double watch was on Wednesday, 8th April, starting at 10.00 hours. I arrived at 8.45 hours, and was given, with others, a guided tour of the ship, which lasted approximately 30 minutes. Next we were kitted out with the Guides uniform, a blue book full of useful notes and "Notes For Guides On Exhibition". We were then sent to our positions. The public came by their hundreds, and the questions flowed. Some I could answer, some I couldn’t, and so directed them to another who I hoped could. (Its funny that many times I remem- bered the answer after the person had moved on). It was very rewarding to see how much interest was shown, especially by the young. During the 7 hours on the two watches, I was Guide in the Great Cabin, Wardroom, Bottom Of Fall Deck Ladder, Foc’sle and 18th Century Accommodation Deck. During further tours of duty I was to cover most of the other positions. In all I did seven watches; the final being the dog watch on the last day, 13th April.
This watch was followed by a party on the Weather Deck, where Captain, Crew and Guides celebrated a very successful visit to Greenwich. It was announced that over 300,000 visitors paid to board the Endeavour Bark. The takings almost cleared the Foundation’s debt. This was not expected until they had completed the U.K tour.
In all, I gained from this experience the uniform and book, new friends, a large amount of knowledge about the ship and, perhaps the most important feeling of all, how the real Endeavour Bark’s company felt about this magnificent ship. A privilege to have been on board, even for such a short time.
From "Notes For Guides On Exhibition":
Remember that you are working in a museum. Please do not interfere with or place personal belongings or notes on the exhibits - keep them out of sight. In hot weather you can carry a small bottle of water but please keep it out of sight. Cups of tea/coffee must NOT be removed from the galley. Driza-bones will be available in times of inclement weather. Don’t worry - enjoy yourself!
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1426, volume 20, number 3 (1997).