Noon position: 28 59S 153 37E
Following my last entry we received the latest weather forecast which gave gale force winds developing along the NSW coast over Monday night and Tuesday. The wind we had at the time was light, but reports gave the breeze freshening to the south, so I played safe and got the watch to unlatch the bonnets from the fore and mainsails, effectively reefing them. As it turned out, I was glad I did. The breeze freshened out of the WSW overnight on Monday, but we were able to hang on to the main topsail throughout, and got back under all square sail soon after daylight on Tuesday, with the breeze easing again. Passed Port Macquarie, I was able to contact Bruce Jordan who hosted the ship at his boating centre in 2001 and he was able to come down to see us go past. Bruce has been pretty sick of late, and I know he is pleased that the ship is sailing again, so I was pleased that he had the opportunity to see us and I pass on the best wishes of all the crew. The moderate breeze did not last - by the middle of the forenoon watch, the freshening south westerly had reached us and we progressively reduced sail again - topsails and spritsail were in by noon and by the middle of the afternoon, we had a near gale, force 7 out of the SSW. Running beautifully under mainsail and foresail, Duyfken was soon up to 6 knots and making up for lost time. Towards the end of the afternoon, with the weather becoming squally and breeze freshening further, the mainsail came in, leaving us under the foresail alone, as we roared past Smoky Cape, just a few miles offshore. The wind was gale force at times overnight, the ship rolling heavily in the increasing sea and swell, the helmsmen had their hands full trying to keep a steady course. Not much sleep as we threaded our way up inside the Solitary Islands, passing Coffs Harbour as occasional squalls and showers swept over us. As the moon crept out from behind the clouds, it lit up a fantastic sight, Duyfken thundering north with whitecaps all around, the solitary foresail straining against sheet and tack as we came up over 7 knots. Through the night, we heard Gypsy Moth IV report in to the various coastal patrol centres on her passage north and we realized that despite her reputation for smart passage making, she is not that far ahead of us. The radio bases were showing a good deal of interest in her voyage, obviously more publicity than we have as they seem oblivious to our voyage. (Although we report in to the AUSREP system in Canberra rather than the coast stations.) Not all smooth sailing, the heavy rolls found any loose gear to fling about, one particularly nasty sea breaking against the stern squirted a few dribbles of water straight into Bree's sleeping bag, and our expedition flag on the end of the bowsprit has been reduced to tatters. More serious was when the ship surfed down a succession of big seas, which caused the boutelouf, the spar that projects below the bowsprit and takes the lead of the foretacks, to come adrift from its lashing. When daylight came, we found the problem was in fact more serious. The boutelouf, some 6"x4" of solid timber had been snapped clean in two. We were able to get the lower part rigged again and the tacks back in place, but this seriously restricts our ability to brace up sharp and we will need a new one made when we get to Brisbane. It has done well - I remember Peter Manthorpe and I looking at that some 6 years ago before we left on the first voyage and wondering how long it would last. The fast boisterous sailing continued today and at about 1900 tonight we crossed the border into Queensland. One fine statistic is that in the 24 hour period since we handed the mainsail, we have sailed 152 miles at an average speed of 6.3 knots - just under the bonnet-less foresail. Lets see Gypsy Moth do that.