At Sea, Fremantle to Bunbury
Let me begin this journal by saying how very pleased I am to be once more telling the story of another voyage by our great little ship. So much has happened that it is hard to know where to begin, and in the coming days I will go over the lead up to this momentous voyage. As I write this, we have already completed the first passage to Bunbury, but it is appropriate to begin with sailing day - in the coming days I will go through the hectic lead up to the voyage and of the enormous contribution by a large number of people to get Duyfken to sea again. The 1606-2006 Duyfken Voyage is an exciting project, and is a partnership between the Australian Government, (specifically the Dept of Environment and Heritage) who is the major sponsor of the voyage, Australia On the Map 1606-2006 and the Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation. There are a number of messages that we will be taking to the people of Australia on this voyage 1 – 2006 is the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Duyfken to the western part of Cape York – the first known European ship to touch at our shoes and of course the first contact between Indigenous Australians and Europeans. 2 – This voyage is a commemoration of the charting of the whole Australian coast by seafarers of many nationalities, beginning with Duyfken in 1606 – putting “Australia on the Map”. 3- The voyage will be used to share the story of, and promoting Australia’s rich coastal and maritime heritage – telling stories of our Maritime past – many of which are barely known or have been forgotten. It is a huge task, but I am sure that the reawakening of energy and spirit aboard the ship will carry through and that these messages will be told to many people through Australia in 2006 Sailing day dawned fine with a moderate ESE’ly breeze, a good sailing wind and Duyfken was keen to get going. With fresh paint and oil work, new rigging and bright new flags, she looked superb. A new crew, in the bright red uniform shirts that will identify us through the voyage, were excited and looking forward to sailing as well. The importance of this voyage was highlighted by the fact that some 3000 people assembled to see us off – many familiar faces were there – our loyal guides, shipkeepers, volunteer crew, shipwrights, riggers – Duyfken is their ship and they were there to see her off. A large group of school children, a Dutch choir and many other well-wishers took part in the pre sailing festivities. A few extras to enliven the proceedings, some groups of, at times, noisy protesters were present to send their own message about various government policies, but the day belonged to Duyfken. A number of VIPs were present to see us off - Among our well-wishers were The Hon John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, Mrs Howard, The Hon Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of The Netherlands and Senator Ian Campbell, Minister for the Environment and Heritage. I had the honour of escorting the two Prime Ministers for a tour of the vessel, and they both signed the ships log as a record of their visit. Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie, representing Australia On the Map, was present, as was the all the board members of our own Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation, including Chairman and Mayor of Fremantle, Peter Tagliaferri. The departure ceremony, chaired by our hard working director, John Longley, including a memorable welcome by Neville Collard, representing the Nyungar People, the traditional owners of the land around Fremantle. He presented me with message sticks to carry on the voyage, telling of the friendship of our two peoples and of the support for our voyage. In a later journal I will recount the full breadth of his message. I was presented with the voyage flag by Netherlands PM Jan Peter Balkenende, as he spoke of the ongoing friendship and close contact between our two nations. Wallace, our bosun, quickly ran out and hoisted the flag on the jack staff on the bowsprit end. The Hon John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, read the Artikelbrief before we departed. Among our instructions is to share the story of our important coastal and maritime heritage, and to bring the story of the 1606 voyage of Duyfken and the subsequent Australian maritime exploration to the awareness of the wider community. Both Prime Ministers then signed the Artikelbrief – no further delay then – I had my sailing orders, it was time to go. We made our last minute preparations as Barney, long time supporter and crew member of the ship sang his “Ballad of the Duyfken” – first sung as we sailed from this same berth on the first voyage in 2000, and just as appropriate today. “… the little dove is spreading her wings again…” To resounding cheers from all gathered, answered from the ship, we let go the lines and started to break the hundreds of streamers holding us alongside. As befits one of the finest sailing vessels in the world, we did not use the auxiliary engines to get us clear of the berth. Instead we had two boat crews from the North Cottesloe surf club to tow the ship to sea. They lay to their oars, backs bending mightily (as you would expect from current surf club champions) and the ship began to move from the berth. We swung around the jetty end, the boats pulled hard to windward and got us to the entrance. Now the crew took over, boats were let go, foresail hoisted and Duyfken put to sea. What a joy to be able to write that again. Clear of the breakwaters, the mainsail was set and we stood away, with an escort of local craft, towards the South Passage and open sea. Over the next 10 months we will be visiting 25 ports around the country, on a voyage of some 7000 nautical miles and we are expecting thousands of school children and adults to visit the ship and learn more of our maritime heritage – stories that need to be told, remembered and retold to future generations. For my own part, it was quietly pleasing to be away again and you could feel it in the ship as well. She lifted her forefoot to the first of the ocean swells, heeled gently as we gave her the main topsail and came alive once more as she threw off the shackles of the land. Duyfken was at sea again.