Noon position 41 05S 150 45E
Toby has had some interesting times with the ship, injuries, damage and rough weather keeping him busy. I am sure he will appreciate the time off now, after doing a good job on the past legs of the voyage. We shifted around to the Domain slipway last Thursday to commence repairs to the starboard shaft. Assisted by two launches, we were secured on the cradle before the breeze came up mid morning and Duyfken was soon hauled up out of the water. The cause of the problem was evident, the cutlass bearing in the A frame had delaminated and the rubber section slip up the shaft, leaving the shaft unsupported in the frame. The propeller was soon off and work commenced by our engineers in conjunction with a local firm to pull the shaft and commence repairs - the whole thing overseen by a surveyor to ensure the job done correctly. In the meantime, the remainder of the crew were busy, water blasting the hull, repairing some slight damage on the wales and preparing to touch up the antifouling paint. I was very pleased to see that the paint work remained in good condition, no bare patches and no sign of worm, except for a small section right aft on the bottom of the keel where she was sitting on blocks at the last slipping. This was soon put right. Friday, with a westerly gale blowing overhead, saw the engineering work continue and the painting completed - using all the stocks of antifouling paint in Hobart, we were able to get another coat on most of the hull. The new foresail was bent in readiness for the Bass Strait crossing and the ship generally got ready for sea. This slipway is very familiar to me, having been a crewmember in the brigantine Eye of the Wind when we hauled out here a number of times and it was pleasing to catch up with some old shipmates here in Hobart from those days. Also pleasing was a visit from Capt Mike Webb, past Master of the training ship Wyuna, when I was a cadet at the AMC. Mike certainly remembered me after some 20 years or more but I am not sure if that means I was a good or bad cadet! Some last minute frantic work on Saturday morning saw the shaft and propeller all back in place, the gangway lifted ashore and Duyfken returned to the water. Clearing the cradle, we made some manoeuvring trials and all seemed fine with the starboard shaft. Unfortunately the delay has meant that we will miss out on our planned visit to Port Arthur, but I was keen to get going to try and make sure we get to Sydney on time. With a favourable W'ly breeze we got under foresail and mizzen and stood away down the Derwent. As we passed one of my old ships, the icebreaker Aurora Australis, we were given some weather that she is more used to - a freezing squall ripping down of Mt Wellington, with cold rain and stinging hail. Hobart's farewell. We stayed under easy canvas until we had got the decks squared away and our emergency musters and drills done and then set the mainsail as we passed Blinking Billy light. More fierce squalls off the land made for a challenging sail down into Storm Bay, Duyfken handling like a dinghy at times. Rounding the Iron Pot, we stood SE for Tasman Island, passing the spectacular Cape Raoul. We rounded the Tasman Island light at 2200 that night and headed north, the breeze remaining a strong WSW'ly. Sunday saw us coasting north under full sail at times, our new foresail and fore topsail bent for the potentially rough passage north, were in marked contrast to the older, well worn and faded sails. Off Wineglass Bay by the dog watches - I was tempted to anchor there to avoid some forecast northerly winds over the next few days, but we were doing so well with the still favourable breeze that I decided to carry on and try and make an anchorage in the Furneaux group of islands. That decision proved to be not the best. The early hours of Monday morning gave us some difficult sailing as some fluky land breezes caught us aback a number of times - good practice for the crew as we boxhauled a number of times to recover. The breeze died right off soon after breakfast but within a couple of hours the forecast N'ly breeze began to fill in. The forecast had it from the NW at first, shifting NE'ly on Tuesday so I decided to stand out on a port tack and come about when it shifted, hopefully gaining ground to the north all the time. Plenty of sail handling that day as the wind strength varied and we made good time off to the NE. However, the NE'ly never did come. Instead, on Tuesday the wind hauled firmly into the north and freshened to a near gale. We shortened down to foresail and mizzen, wore ship and head reached back towards the land - Duyfken was some 90 miles east of Eddystone Pt by this stage. We were never going to make ground to windward now and in fact began to be driven back to the SW as the gale grew in strength. By midnight we had storm force conditions and the ship was beginning to struggle somewhat, rolling heavily with occasional seas sweeping aboard and spray bursting up to wet the foresail. As I stood there on deck, cold and wet, I thought about that decision not to go to anchor. The forecast had a S'ly change passing across the state overnight so it was time to wear ship again so that we would be on the port tack and well placed to use the wind shift. We handed the mizzen, a tough job in the challenging conditions and hauled the fore yard around as we wore ship and stood east again. At least we were pointing east, but being driven further to the south as well. Through the early hours of this morning, we had probably reached the limit of what the foresail could take, but the sail was new and the gear good and all held. By daylight the sting had gone out of the wind and it began to back a little, but still no sign of the promised change - it must have been the slowest moving cold front in history. As the wind backed NW'ly and eased we were able to make sail and making a bit of ground to the north again. We certainly needed it; we had lost 32 miles to the south from noon yesterday to noon today. Finally the change came through, gently at first out of the SW, but quickly building to a S'ly gale. We were forced to shorten down again but now the wind was in our favour and as I write this we are running north at about 5 knots under the foresail alone. Hopefully these winds will continue for a while and we can make up for lost time.