Once again I have a tremendous amount to write about to bring this journal up to date, a lot has happened in the last few days, a real whirlwind of events that have sped us along. We departed Newcastle on the 1st March after another souccessful port visit, many Novacastrians, including many Dutch folk and countless school children having come down to visit us. Our weather luck was not with us for departure though, the northerly weather of the past few days had given way overnight to a southerly change and sailing time saw a south easterly at 35 knots still blowing up at Nobbys Head. The forecast was for moderating conditions during the afternoon so I delayed sailing time until midday - no point in heading out to pound the ship to pieces when we have plenty of time to do the passage. As forecast, the wind began to ease late morning and we got under way soon after 1200. After motoring out of the harbour and rounding the breakwaters, I stood directly to sea to get a bit of an offing in order to get a slant down the coast under sail. Despite the easing wind, there was still quite a swell rolling in from the east and it was lumpy and uncomfortable as we pushed directly into it. A few miles out amongst the anchored bulk carriers, we were able to fall off and get under sail, to the relief I think of all aboard. Under courses initially and then under topsails as well as the breeze eased further, we stood away full and by on a port tack, making ground to the south. It looked like we would be set in on to the coast and would be forced to go about but we had a bit of luck, a slight backing of the breeze to the east and we were able to just lay our course, only a couple of miles off the coast. This continued overnight, making steady progress towards Broken Bay and we were standing in towards Barrenjoey Head at lunchtime on Friday. A few boats out to see who we were as we sailed in with squared yards to a fresh easterly and I decided to do a bit of a cruise up the bay before returning to our anchorage. We carried on up to the entrance to Cowan Creek under foresail and topsails and to give all the new crew some additional sail handling drill, I decided to put her on the wind and beat back up to the anchorage. The ship did really well, pointing up under this rig to about 60 degrees off the wind and making little leeway. The breeze proved a bit fluky close to shore though and she was a bit reluctant to tack, missing stays twice and forcing us to wear ship. I put the mizzen on her, that cured the problem, and we made great progress to windward, going about every ten minutes or so. The port anchor was cleared away, fore topsail and mizzen handed and we fetched gently in to Flint and Steel Bay under fores'l and main topsail. A couple of cables offshore in about 10 metres of water, the helm was put down and the fores'l clewed up as she rounded up. Main yard squared and down goes the anchor as the way comes off her, veering cable as she comes astern under a backed tops'l and finally handing all sail as we bring up to 4 lengths of cable. Very satisfying to do it all without even putting the engines on standby.
A very pleasant overnight anchorage in the middle of a national park, very peaceful with only the sounds of birds to keep us company. A couple more voyage crew join us here, James our shop manager and Jenny from Sanctuary Cove (describing herself as a stowaway) join the 19 permanent and voyage crew already aboard to give us the biggest overnight complement on the whole voyage. A bit of a party aboard for what is the last night of the voyage - Nic singing us a few songs and Greg joining in on tin whistle to provide some pleasant entertainment. What looked like being a fine night induced some crew to sleep on deck, only to get rudely awoken by a heavy shower through the night. Graeme stuck it out, preferring a soaking wet sleeping bag to a crowded cabin and managed to wake up looking cheery and fresh. I am sure he was just trying to get a true feel of conditions in the 1600's - what a hero.
We have some more crew join us the next morning, just in time to help weigh anchor, Rainz and Jenny Brandsma, Michael and Janine Young and Marc Flory aboard for the days run down to Sydney. We get under way soon after 0800 and there are a lot of small craft out to see us drift slowly out of Broken Bay to a light westerly, probably the last remnant of the overnight land breeze. Indeed, it did not last long enough to get clear of Lion Island and I am forced to put her under power to get out. If I am late to Sydney today I expect I would be the first Master to be hung from a yardarm for a long time. We get out of Broken Bay, get her under all sail to a light ESE'ly and stand south for Sydney, making one inadvertant tack just before lunch as the helmsman let her come up and another soon after to get her going the right way again. Unfortunately the sea breeze failed to fill in as I had hoped and we were forced to motor sail to keep to the all important schedule. Approaching the cliffs at North Head, we shut the engines off again and soon after have some media helicopters around getting footage of our arrival. We are also met by the ex customs vessel ET Hall, with a whole heap of my friends and family aboard who have come out to meet us. Sydney is my home port and I have to admit I had a bit of a lump in my throat as a long held dream of mine begins to be realised, to be in command of a square rigged vessel and enter Sydney Harbour under sail. I knew that our arival had been advertised but was not really prepared for the scale of welcome. The pilot comes aboard off North Head, some skillful handling of the cutter making the transfer look easy and we stand in. The spectator fleet grows around us, boats of all shapes and sizes including another little sloop named Duyfken. That raised a cheer from our crew. An escort of Waterways launches ensured enough sea room for us and the fire fighting tug "Shirley Smith" provides a spectacular water spray welcome as we enter the Western Channel. The hermaphrodite brig "Windeward Bound" is under sail with us, also coming in from sea to join the increasing parade, schooners "La Violante" and "Boomerang" meet us just inside the entrance,and the ex RAN patrol boat HMAS Advance, with guests from the Australian National Maritime Museum is there as well to see us in, making us welcome by closing close aboared and giving us 3 cheers. The breeze does not serve as we head up the harbour and we clew up and proceed under power towards Bradleys Head. Rounding that headland with the prominant mast of HMAS Sydney in view, we get under sail again and with the weather becoming overcast and squally we run up the harbour at a good clip, nearly 7 knots in bursts, dipping our ensign to the gun salute at Fort Denison and racing past the big crowd on the forecourt of the Opera House. Shortening sail as we sail under the famous arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we give a long blast on the whistle, people waving back from both foreshores and all the escorting boats. We hand all sail as we begin the final run up Darling Harbour, the drizzle that has set in not diminishing in any way the smiles on the faces of all aboard. Passing close under the stern of the VOC replica "Batavia" a cannon booms out in welcome, we dip our ensign in reply and I lead 3 cheers for our big sister.The spectator fleet drop back to give us manoeuvring room and we swing slowly past the famous WW2 vessel Krait and into the berth opposite the destroyer "Vampire" To applause from the gathered crowd, lines are made fast, fenders in position and the engines are shut down. We have arrived and I can't deny it is a little emotional for me to have brought her in to such a welcome. I thank all the crew, they have been superb, both the permanent crew - Andrea, Greg, Nic, Jane, Walter, Rupert, James, Trev, Heidy, and the voyage crew with us on this leg and am humbled when they give me 3 cheers. A big beaming smile from Jenny, the familiar cheeky grin from Trev and a heartfelt handshake from Graeme - I have to go and sit in my cabin for a few minutes.
Duyfken has arrived in Sydney, the end of this voyage. We will be here for a few weeks now at the Museum and I will give updates from time to time as to developments for our future voyages. The doves wings are folded for but a while.