The back story

Sailing south with Europa, Lord Nelson and Oosterschelde

Travelling south

For those of you who might be a bit confused about my last entry, and the fact there were no previous references to my location, you may wish to read the back story –  now that I’ve got around to writing it. It has only taken a week for my  internal clock to return to normal….. (I was also struggling with the concept of using a smart phone to post – and having lost my draft three times, I gave up and posted something small rather than nothing at all)

Last week Sydney hosted the Fleet Review where a bunch of tall ships and a bigger bunch of war ships celebrated 100 years of the arrival of the Royal Navy. Sydney, as part of this event, also hosted Prince Harry as the Royal representative of this event and with much media attention he came and went within the obligatory 24 hours. I managed to observe one of his warship reviews from the window of The View restaurant at Taronga Zoo – a mighty fine location to take in the officialities if I might say so, as well as a good spot for watching the exciting fighter plane and helicopter fly-overs!

But back to the beginning….

A few months ago I saw an ad to join the Soren Larsen on her travels to take place in this event. There were berths available on other ships – mainly the overseas contingent, but I chose the Sydney based Soren.

She sailed south to attend the Melbourne Tall Ship Festival, and then joined a few others and sailed to Hobart for its Tall Ship Festival. We picked her up in Hobart for the return sail north, across the dreaded Bass Strait, to take place in the tall ship part of the Fleet Review.

I spent a couple of days in Hobart prior to jumping on board and can thoroughly recommend the boat trip for lunch to Peppermint Bay, a day at MONA and a gourmet food walking tour of Hobart. A visit to the small Maritime Museum at Hobart is also worthwhile if you are into local history.

But all this was filling in time. Our aim was the Soren Larsen. We got on the day before sailing, had a bit of training, were completely overwhelmed (at least I was in terms of process and vernacular) and settled in for a 10-day trip north. 22  paying ‘voyage crew’ were allocated watches – a period of four hours per twelve hours – 2 watches per day (supervised by the normal crew, of course)!

In a nutshell, I was on the 4-8 watch (taking in sunrises and sunsets) and managed to attend most watches. There were a few hiccups to start with, with seasickness and a virus (and one wonderful morning where we anchored at 3.30am so I didn’t get up at all) but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our watch was organised with a regular rotation and my first job each time was joining a fellow voyage-crew member on bow watch and singing for half an hour before we were relived (she is a member of a choir – I normally don’t sing). It only occurs to me now that we might have been a bit loud for the crew who were trying to sleep at 4am in the morning.

The first night across Bass Strait had me swept off my feet with water (I was clipped on) but all I can really remember, apart from the strange sensation that my feet were travelling toward the back of the boat on a wave of water, was the wonderful blue of the phosphorescence.

We were lucky – we only had one really bad day on Bass Strait – other ships  had more. Bass Strait is typically a two -day crossing. We were all a bit surprised on day two, however. We’d timed it well. It was sunny, there were no whitecaps, and most hands were on deck enjoying the sunshine and calm conditions.

Despite another overnight stop and some not so friendly tidal patterns we made the ‘muster’ of tall ships before the 11am entry toward Sydney Harbour on 3rd October.  The ships were magnificent but restricted. The rules stated that we couldn’t sail in – and those not familiar with the harbour required a pilot. Subsequently, very few, if any, sails were up when the procession started. Sailing out of Hobart on the Derwent was much more spectacular so I provide a photo with three tall ships in their sail-set glory….(not a great photo but you will get the idea…)

2 thoughts on “The back story

  1. What a pity you didn’t have the sunny arrival that the navy ships had, and that you weren’t allowed to come in under sail. But, congrats on making it, in time, and surviving the weather. Sounds like it wasn’t quite as bad as it looked on the weather obs. Just as well you were wearing your harness!

    • Some ships actually locked their ‘paying crew’ up to keep them out of harms way – but they did cop 24 or 48 hours more of the weather than we did……I was actually ‘off shift’ when I was swept off my feet – I was ‘making offerings to Neptune’ (as the Captain would put it) at the time.

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