On way to Launceston
Well alas, the wind didn’t stay very strong and we wallowed in lumpy seas for the night. But by mid morning the wind had filled in from the east and gently blew us up the coast of Tasmania. It was gentle sailing, and there was much anticipation that in the light conditions we might be able to catch up with the Endeavour replica. She was a day ahead of us and in the light airs we felt we would be making better ground than her. One interesting place we passed on the passage north was Schouten Island, an island that always held much interest to me when I was growing up. The island is a small, unspoilt, southerly continuation of the Freycinet peninsular. The only way to get there is by boat, and it has very few visitors. Often when holidaying on the east coast I would look across and think how wonderful it would be to spend a week exploring the island. To experience a place where I was not going to run into other people, and be able to enjoy the scenery and the harshness of environment that the island represented. However, I never managed to make it there. Perhaps it is one of those dreams that is still to be fulfilled. Sailing past the Schouten Island as master aboard Duyfken brought a new perspective on the island. For Schouten Island is named after Willem Cornelisz Schouten, the famous Dutch captain who rounded the very bottom of South America in 1616, and named the cape Hoorn after the town in which he was born. So why the connection to Duyfken? When the original Duyfken sailed to Batavia in 1602 as part of the Malaccan fleet her then master was Willem Schouten. After the Duyfken returned to Holland in 1603 Schouten handed over command of the vessel to Willem Janzsoon before heading off for his adventures around Cape Horn. So looking from the deck of Duyfken at Cape Sonnerat and the intriguing island that lay beyond it, I felt a strange sensation. For over four hundred years ago the person whom the island was named after would also been on the decks of this ship looking out over the ocean. Maybe not with the knowing that we have today, but many of the islands that he saw would have had the intrigue and interest that Schouten Island holds for me. After some more gentle sailing we managed to reach the entrance to Banks Strait. The wind was building as we got closer to the entrance, and I shortened sail down to lowers, though the bonnets were still on. The tides are quiet strong through Banks Strait and I was keen to use them to the best of our advantage. Firstly for the added speed it would give us, for the tide would be taking us through instead of us fighting against it. Secondly because the wind was a steady easterly of 20 knots. With easterly wind over an east setting tide then the sea will slop up and become very uncomfortable. The old adage of “wind over tide, an uncomfortable ride.” The difficulty was that our tidal gate was not until the middle of the night, so we had to sail through in the dark. At three o`clock in the morning I was a little worried for the seas, which had been lumpy at first, had settled, but our speed was still slow. I was keen to get through the passage on the one tide, and although we had 20 knots of wind dead astern of us, we were only doing a steady 4 knots which wasn’t going to get us out of the straight in time before the tide turned. Had I got my calculations wrong, I wondered. More sail was needed so the idlers were called and we set the fore topsail. With position fix’s being put constantly on the chart our progress was monitored closely. Then suddenly the tide grabbed us. Our speed sped up to eight and a half knots, and before we knew it we were through the Strait. The next day we sailed up the western side of the Furneaux group of islands. In communication with the Endeavour replica, I knew that they had anchored in Marshall Bay at the top end of Flinders Island. I was uncertain whether we would have the time to spend the night in there with them for we had deviated from our course to Launceston and still had a fair way to go. But the forecast was for ten to twenty knots of wind from the east for the next three days. Lounging around the deck the crew did look weary from the night before, rolling and pitching as we approached Banks Strait. Was moral in need of a boost? So I decided to head into Marshall Bay. It must have been quiet a shock for the community of Northern Flinders Island for without warning the bay was filled with three replica sailing vessels lying at anchor. A very unusual sight indeed. It was a pleasant night. The wind died out completely, and most of the crew were invited over to the Endeavour for some evening entertainment. I headed over for half an hour to catch up with friends, but felt more comfortable to be back onboard Duyfken, even though it was a quiet night. Next morning there was much swimming and a number of boat runs to take photos in the morning sun of the three ships at anchor. The Enterprize was the first to leave, heading up to Kilacrankie, then continuing on to Melbourne. We hauled up anchor at about the same time as Endeavour, and slowly motored out of the bay, looking for some wind. Unfortunately, although the forecast was fine, there was very little wind. As we got out of the bay we set all sail and attempted to make a fair passage as best we could to the west. But the wind was fluky. We had to tack a few times, and then struggled to hold a course west of north west. So finally we gave up as the wind died completely and had to start the donk and proceed for a while under power. Still, it must have been a nice sight from Endeavour as she motored out of the bay to see the little dove tacking across the entrance of the bay.