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Eye of the Wind - Newsletter NO 8
Hands to the braces!! - the fore & main yards are trimmed for the cold southerly Tasmanian sea breeze, which has carried us along the eastern shore of South Bruny Island. The majestic rock formations of Fluted Cape slip astern. On rounding Penguin Island, Adventure Bay unfolds. Little has changed since 'HMAS Adventure' with Captain Furneaux first landed in 1773, with Captain Cook following in 1777. No doubt many of you who have followed the second showing of the 'Captain Cook' series on the ABC have come to realise that Adventure Bay was the main rendezvous port for the early explorers of the Pacific.
Since the completion of newsletter No. 7 when we lay at Trinity Wharf, Cairns, we have sailed the eastern seaboard of Australia. This passage has not been without its surprises!
We renewed our acquaintance with Dick Brooks, on the now reef bound 196' Arctic trawler 'Debut'. Our first meeting with Dick was in June 1984, when, in the early hours of the morning, he motored into Vila Harbour. Our ship's crew lined the rail, eating breakfast, and were intrigued as the telegraph broke the silence of the morning with a call of 'dead slow'. A bearded figure casually walked to the fore-deck and the anchor descended in a rusty flurry. Minutes later, his Western Samoan wife appeared from the engine room - they were the full compliment of crew! The now infamous Dick Brooks, in some ways a modern pirate, has sailed, drifted and plundered his way westward from England, since departing a week after us in 1976. His vessel now rests in all her rusty glory, as a permanent marker (an eye-sore to some) on Emily Reef, south east of Cooktown. We were able to give Dick his first supplies for 3 months. He now has enough tea bags to last him 2 years!
Since our visit Dick has become a celebrity and has appeared on 60 Minutes and a number of other programmes. We await the result of his on-going saga.
Whilst in Cairns, we also replaced our propeller shaft, a bit earlier than planned, and we now have a new stainless steel one.
The Christmas holidays found us in the Whitsunday Islands, haunting old anchorages from the 'New Endeavor' days. The tide of progress and tourism has certainly left its mark, but one is still able to find peace and seclusion.
We met up with 'Romance', 'Golden Plover' and 'Coral Trekker', square riggers that operate in the Whitsundays. Racing against 'Coral Trekker', in light airs, we certainly held our own, and were able to launch our Avon to do a commando water bomb raid on the 'Trekker' and her crew.
Whilst at Middle Percy Island, we shared the hospitality of Andy Martin, who has also become a TV star in recent months. Home-made fruit wine, honey and goat skins were purchased from Andy, who relies on passing yachtsmen for supplies and news. Quentin Keeble (Gordon's youngest son) displayed his hunting prowess when he set off on foot with Andy and his dogs, to run down some goats.
Unfortunately, a series of strong south easterly airflows dogged our passage south. One of these made it impossible for us to dive on the 'Yongala' but other exhilarating dives at Hook Reef, North West Island and Heron Island compensated.
On the 201st Australia Day, we once again sailed into Port Jackson. The racing 12 Metres and accompanying spectator fleet rounded the seaward buoy ahead of us. An exciting spectacle, followed by the schooner race with 'Solway Lass' and 'Our Svanen' duelling in the harbour. The spectacle continued as the ferry race and its supporters churned up the harbour.
We berthed for the first time at 21 Pyrmont. It was sad in some ways to sail past Walsh Bay, which has been our home berth whilst in Sydney for the last few years. During our limited time in Sydney, we managed to see many old friends.
The time period allowed for the voyage from Sydney to Hobart gave us the opportunity to work the 'Eye of the Wind' southward. Numerous tacks and favourable use of the south going equatorial current, kept our ship's company in fine trim till we encountered a favourable wind off Gabo Island, which carried us across Bass Strait for our most comfortable passage to Tasmania to date.
Our first landfall was Wineglass Bay, very aptly named, and we all spent an enjoyable day ashore at a barbeque, feeding the wallabies and walking the white sands of the expansive beach. The anchorage became lumpy as the north easterly increased. We left in a hurry, and made sure of the favourable wind to run down past Maria Island and rounded Tasman Island to come to anchor in the serenity of Port Arthur.
The reality of the convict era was brought home to us as we watched the silent 1926 movie 'For the Term of his Natural Life'. It is not difficult to imagine the anguish the early convicts must have felt as they sailed into the bay and had their first glimpse of the penitentiary at Port Arthur.
The 'Defender' from Launceston and the 'Lady Nelson' greeted us, as we approached Hobart Town, and some excellent photos were taken by those on the ex-Sydney ferry 'North Head', as she circled the 3 vessels, all under full sail in light airs.
We were fortunate that Robin Hicks was able to spare time from the 'Endeavour Project' in Fremantle to have our new fore-topmast shaped and awaiting us on the Domain Slipway. Over the next 17 days we replaced the old larch topmast with a Douglas Fir spar, which we had had felled and seasoned in Hobart since 1984. Miles of spun yarn were used on the servings of the replaced standing rigging.
South West Cape has shown us its ever changing facets, from a glassy calm to a 55 knot gale. The long period of calm gave us the opportunity to dive the desolate south west. Divers located the twisted wreckage of cargo of the 'Briar Holrne' and boarded the 1,400 tonne barque 'Svennor' which went aground in 1914. he is in amazingly good condition having withstood the pounding seas and continuous gales which ravage this westerly coast. The nearest western land mass is Cape Horn.
The lack of rain resulted in the waters of Port Davey itself being clear and quite warm, but this meant that the Avons were unable to get past the Davey Gorge on the river.
Elizabeth St. Wharf, Hobart, has given Hobartians two aspects of sailing - 'Lady Nelson' and the ' Eye of the Wind' lying on one side, and Jacques Cousteau's rotary sail propelled vessel 'Alycon' on the other. She certainly is an amazing looking vessel with her state of the art sails resembling funnels, and masses of hi-tech equipment.
We have heard that the builders of the 'Eye of the Wind', C. Lühring of Brake have been put into receivership. They presented us with their plaque in 1976, and we invited 3 generations of Lührings aboard when we visited their yard in Brake in 1981. It is hoped they can trade their way out of financial difficulties, as they are one of the last remaining shipyards of that era.
News of the First Fleet ships - 'Amorina' has returned to Turkey. 'Bounty' is on her way to Tahiti to re-enact the munity voyage - Dave Brown and Duncan Richards are sailing aboard as Master and Mate. 'R.Tucker Thompson', 'Anna Kristina', 'Søren Larsen' and 'Tradewind' are all working out of New Zealand. Mike Kichenside (ex Commodore) has been appointed Captain of the British sail training brig 'Astrid'. Mitch Macuipa has been asked to join her as first mate.
Wayne Chimenti and Tim Morris have joined Cees Koeman in Holland preparing his vessel 'Pacific Swift' for her voyage to Australia.
Ray Commins is a student under Richard Grono in Fremantle, as he sits for his Master V. Dangerous Dan Parrot is First Mate on the barquentine 'Tole Mour' in the Marshall Islands. P.K. is still surviving in the wilds of Cairns, and studying for his next engineering certificate.
There are still berths available on both Pitcairn voyages, though the 2nd one is rapidly filling. We were sorry to learn in Hobart that 'Sundancer' will not be meeting us in Pitcairn, as they have decided not to undertake the celebration voyage.
The marine artist, Bill Mearns, has just completed a superb watercolour of the 'Eye of the Wind' sailing in these southern waters. A limited edition of prints have been made from the original, and these are available from our Sydney office. There are also blank cards available.
Not many people would have known Jan Brak, he sailed on our maiden voyage from England to Sydney. We were saddened to hear he passed away in March this year in Perth.
Eric Matson ('Enzo' to his friends) told us the fantastic news regarding John Bent and Paul Lunns successful court case for the rights to locate their Manila galleon in Guam. It has been a long, drawn out process, and we wish them well with their endeavours.
'Eye of the Wind' has featured in 2 articles by Peter Stone (Feb/March edition of Club Marine and Sportsdiver) , and we are all looking fcyward to Kevin Deacons Book due to be released soon.
Now that winter is beginning to set in we are looking forward to our return to the Pacific.