The Wharf, Mooloolaba
Our new voyage crew joined us yesterday morning and turned to with the regular crew immediately, preparing the ship for sea. Hatches got bolted on, rescue boat inflated and lashed in positon, museum gear stowed away, fresh water tanks filled, safety gear in position and the seemingly million other thngs that are needed to be done. The crew are well practised by now in getting it all done, although with some of the crew on leave, a little more instruction than usual was needed for the voyage crew and the relief crew that we have aboard. I decided to wait for high water before departing so that I could use the ebb to help carry us down the river. Another hot sultry morning with little breeze promised little sailing at least until the sea breeze fills in later in the day. Andrea lets me know that we are all ready to go with over an hour to spare, so the opportunity is taken to take the new people through the safety induction. We are still waiting for Trevor, our relief engineer to arrive - he is flying up from Sydney to rejoin us for this leg and he makes it aboard just in time to warm up the engines for departure. We have a brief muster of all hands so that everyone gets introduced properly and I go through the voyage plan for this leg. ime to go. Lines are singled up and the waiting crowd jostles expectantly with cameras poised. A rumour had got around (spread I think by that shadowy crew member Mr Not Me) that we were leaving at 1100 and some of the crowd had begun to get a little impatient. They need a trip in a sailing ship to slow down their pace of life I think. Just before 1200 lines were let go, and the ship was obviously ready to go as she lifted off the berth nicely without me having to do any manoeuvring at all. A City Cat ferry obligingly stopped mid stream and let me come out astern and swing before heading past with a friendly wave. 3 cheers and a long blast on our whistle to farewell Brisbane and we were on our way. Under power down river, the decks get squared away for sea - fenders and mooring lines stowed, guns run in and secured, gun ports doors lashed, riiging rove off, watches organized, loose gear lashed and stowed. A Channel 7 chopper finds us soon after passing under the Gateway Bridge and gets some footage of us as we pass close alonside an inbound containership. The sea breeze begins to freshen as we get down towards the lower stretches of the river and our progress slows as we push into the developing chop. Once clear of the entrance beacon , we get under sail at 1500, setting courses and the main topsail at half hoist, the breeze having freshened up over 25 knots. She is quite happy under this rig and begins to move nicely as we stretch away to the ESE, full and by on a port tack, the engines being shut off to the relief of everyone. The wind is out of the NE, of course a headwind as we need to make ground to the N to get out of Moreton Bay. I decide to beat to windward for the rest of the afternoon, we should make a bit of ground with the remainder of the ebb and it will be a good introduction to sail handling for the new crew. Down to the NE of Mud Island we come aboutand stand off on the other tack. he ship has been too long in port and she has forgotten how to sail, missing stays at the first attempt. We fall off and pick up speed again quickly and on the 2nd attempt, the foresheet is let go much quicker and the main sheet flattened well in. This does the trick and around we come filling away on a starboard tack. We make some useful ground, just weathering the small general cargo ship "CEC Carrier" at anchor in the roads. Wearing ship we make another board to the east dodging some other inbound and outbound traffic. The weather begins to look a little unsettled and just before dark the main topsail is handed as the rain begins. It would be nice to keep pluggging away and beat out of the Bay, but the tide is about to turn and of course the timetable is against us - we are due at Moolooabe tomorrow. Reluctantly I give the order to hand sail and we stand to the North under power again. With the sea breeze now dying away and we make good time, heading out via the East,Main and Spitfire Channels. In the early hours of this morning we were able to get under sail again, inshore of the NW channel and make use of the land breeze that has come up. Got under courses and topsails and had a pleasant sail N along the coast, just scraping (figuratively) across the banks. We made about 2 knots until daylight when the breeze died away and the flood tide beginning to set us backwards. Clew up all sail and proceeded under power again. Someone had been a litttle heavy handed with the tar brush, the main clewgarnets are almost too slippery to haul on and everone is sporting tarry stripes on their clothes. Calm condtions by now with the ship riding easily to an oily swell rolling in from the east and making 4 knots on economical revs. The drizzle that has been with us for a while has developed into rain now and there doesn't seem much point in hanging about waiting for a wind that is unlikely to come up for the remainder of the day so I alter course for Point Cartwright and Moolooaba. A lot of people are waiting for us to come in and I am on the phone to talk to various madia people and our contacts at the Wharf complex to give them an ETA. Andrea calls up the coastguard as well, they are sending 2 boats to meet us and assist us in if required and a bit of a welcome fleet begins to assemble around us as we near the entrance, braving the less than pleasant conditions to see us in. We pass between the breakwaters at 1220 and a crowd on the end respond enthisiastically to our whistle and waves. A staedy run up the Mooloola river with a coast guard escort fore and aft and by 1245 we are off the Wharf complex. Here the fun began. I had been to see the berth before Christmas and knew that it was going to be tight to get in and I must admit I was a little nervous. The yards were well cockbilled to keep the yardarms clear of the observation tower and all hands were standing by with fenders and mooring lines. I turned her short round and began to come in astern. I was abit slow in getting the coastguard boat to get lashed up on a headline forward and a puff of breeze (now we get wind!) set us down towards the moored boats at the marina pens. We had to fend of the bowsprit of one boat as I headed out again to have another go and this time we got the launch in position forward and our own boat was launched and I gave Greg instructions to push up on the quarter as needed. Began to make another stern first approach and the staff and customers in the pottery shop were just about able to lean out the window and touch our stern as I backed right up to the piling. I then let the breeze set her down, coming astern easily when I could, to slide back into the berth. The 2 boats were used successfully to hold her a little up to windward, and mooring lines run as quickly as possible to hold her also. Looking aloft, our fore yardarm was only inches from the balcony of the tower,the people up there having a great view of the whole thing. Finally we got her into position and all fast, Andrea leading the crew to do a great job with fenders and moorings, and my heartbeat began to slow to a more normal rate. I was hoping to slink off for a quiet little sit down after that, but the media were waiting - shiphandling, after all, is only part of my job.