One watch was on duty throughout the day. At night, from 2000 to 0800, watches split the night. Starboard watch would take the first half, port the second. Then the next day, starboard was on from 0800 to 1200, then port 1200 to 1600, with starboard again through to 2000, whence port would take the first half of the next night. Each watch was split in two also, so that at night during my watch's period, four people would be on for three hours, and then the other four for three also. The worst time by far was the 0200 to 0500. Generally there was sail handling to be done requiring a whole watch at the 0500 changeover, which delayed the return to bed for a recovery hour or so. Watch consisted of taking the wheel and performing lookout, and being available for anything else that may crop up. Any sail handling that did not require all hands on deck was performed by the watch team.
Taking the wheel was a pleasant time for me. First time was potentially stressful, going through 'the Rip' at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Capt Blake was beside me (and not beside himself, fortunately) giving orders to while I had to immediately respond. At other times the steering was to a heading or to an angle away from the wind. It was always a challenge to keep the ship as close to the direction required.
Usually two were forward to keep a watch. There were two so that each could keep the other awake, as this was very much the relax time while on watch.
Immediately following breakfast, the permanent crew would meet, followed by a meeting of the voyage crew with the captain and mate. The plans for the next day were laid out together with progress of the last 24 hours. Thereafter was cleaning duty, mops, buckets, scrubbing, washing with an inspection by the mate. Everyone was in getting dirty, making light of a chore. Morning tea, and then a lecture. We had one on ropes and sail handling, another on anchors and anchoring, and a third of extracts from a 19th century merchant seaman on the seagoing life. After lunch there was a quiet period, if there was no sail work, followed by some general maintenance work; I mainly was sanding down the boards on the mizzen fighting top in preparation for oiling. Further quiet time preceded dinner. The hammocks came out at 1830, and had to be away before 0800. Usually those who had the worst of the night watches were in their hammock soon after 2000. The physicality of the work meant that any chance for a rest, reflect and a snooze were gratefully received.
We were fortunate indeed to have a variety of weather conditions in our short time. This meant that there were many sail changes. The most profound and sudden of the changes occurred after four days, when we had been through the process a number of times and had begun to 'know the ropes'. Our teams had meshed, and we could almost predict what was required of us. As one who had failed scouts because of knots, I felt a little intimidated, but the demands were simple: mainly involving belaying ropes onto their pins. Most of our work involved being the engines pulling the ropes that moved the yards or raised and lowered the sails. Sometimes, especially in strong winds, a wearing of the ship - when the ship is turned around the wind, would have all hands working non-stop for 20 minutes. A substantial resetting of the sails may take an hour, and leave you pretty whacked. But in a satisfied way.
One person from each watch was assisted to help the cook (Caroline) and Cook's assistant (Ben) with each meal. This ended up being mainly performing washing up duties.
Captain Blake. Very aloof to begin with, he was not particularly approachable, even for matters directly to do with sailing of the vessel. That broke down the further we went, and he began to engage in conversation. It is clear that he knows Endeavour intimately; it is his life. He is the front man, and must deal with the media, something he finds difficult. He is not naturally effusive, or outgoing. He is enormously reassuring, however. I had total confidence in all he did.
Danny. A Shipwright who worked on the building of the Endeavour. Dauntingly strong, he could do the work of five others in sail handling. He has been part of the crew on and off since the beginning. He took a year off to return to Perth to work on the building of the replica of the Duyfken, the ship that in 1616 sailed from Batavia to the Gulf of Carpentaria to be the first accepted visit of Europeans to Australia.
Caroline. Wife of Danny, and as long associated with the project. The first aider as well, she takes all seriously and very capably. She has been spending time with paramedics to improve her medical skills.
Steve. Ship's mate. From the NSW central coast. He has had a few voyages with the Endeavour, but tries to keep close to home. He did a marvellous job as he was really in charge of us voyage crew: he gave the directions to Dom and Chris, who then run the watches.
The voyage crew. Ten male, eight female, 17 to 80. Most from Melbourne, with 2 from Canberra and one from Portland. Roxanne was being paid for the privilege as she is a reporter for the local Portland newspaper. Father and daughter; two young friends. Two from the local yacht club. Two had voyaged before, one for an extended period. Most really had no great affinity for Cook, just being aware of his story in relation to Australia, but rather they were fond of the sea and adventure, or just looking for something different.
We had everything the sky could think of: heat, rain, dead calm, on shore and off shore winds, gales from two directions; 5 metre swells coming out of the southern ocean where a 978mBar depression sat. No one wind condition lasted more than six hours. So we had lots of work on the sails. We sailed through the heads of Port Phillip Bay, past the 12 Apostles - a magnificent natural rock formation carved by the pounding waves direct from Antarctica, gave cannon salutes to two towns, and anchored overnight.
Coming up on deck after the first night underway to commence my watch at 0500 I discovered that we had been under motor all night, with wind almost absent. It would be a glorious day, and the sun was already over the horizon, with not a hint of cloud to be seen. There was a slight nip in the air after the relieving cool change that had passed through the previous evening. In anticipation of increasing wind, at the very least a sea breeze, it had been decided to set some sail and cut the engine. Most of all, the foremast top gallant was to be set. Four of the voyage crew were to go aloft. In this case, not just to the fighting top, but as far again. I would never get a better opportunity to climb all the way, and I charged into it. Not that I had any idea what I would be doing once I got up to the top.