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Australian White Ensign

Navy helicopter towing an enormous white ensign

The Australian Navy White Ensign was introduced in 1967, replacing the previous practice of flying the Royal Navy’s White Ensign on Australian Navy vessels.

White ensign and tall ship Lord Nelson

On 4 October 1913, the first Royal Australian Navy fleet entered Sydney Harbour. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of that event, an International Fleet Review was held in Sydney Harbour in October 2013. Ships came from around the world — not only military vessels, but other types. One of those ships was the tall ship Lord Nelson, owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust and home-ported in Southampton, England. (And now, sadly, retired, leaving the JST with only Tenacious.) I’d been involved with the JST and ‘Nellie’ since 1993, so was thrilled to be aboard once again, although the mixing of my old UK life and my new Aussie life was odd!

White ensign and tall ship Lord Nelson

Life in Colour (White)

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Washing Lines 1: at sea

Hanging up the washing, Indian Ocean, somewhere between Durban and Mauritius.

On a long sailing voyage (this one was about five weeks long, from South Africa to India), clothes washing day for your group is keenly anticipated. You can hand-wash socks and, ahem, unmentionables, and drape them around the accommodation area to dry (such as my socks, in the feature photo) — but that can’t match clothes run through the washing machine and hung outside to dry in the sun and the clean fresh sea air.

Monday Washing Lines I’ve been seeing other bloggers’ posts for this challenge, but I thought I didn’t have any photos of drying laundry. Wrong!


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Not happy with heights?

Lord Nelson

Looking up, Lord Nelson

Very few people react with glee to the idea of climbing up the mast on a tall ship. I certainly never did! Looking at these photos, it seems like a mad thing to do.

Tenacious

Tenacious: look at all those narrow, wobbly ladders to climb …

In the photo below, you don’t get a sense of the height but you do get a sense of the scale.

Tenacious, with a person for scale

Not happy with heights? Nah! These crew members going aloft on Tenacious have already had four weeks to get used to it, sailing from Bermuda to Southampton.

Going aloft to harbour stow the sails! (tip: don’t look down)

Posted for One Word Sunday: Vertiginous


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Tied up

The grand old lady QE2 tied up in Zeebrugge

Among the many uses for the verb “tie up” I’m going with the nautical interpretation: to tie a boat to something with a rope, chain etc (synonym: moor). (Although I do keep thinking of the title of the 1989 Pedro Almodóvar film “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” — but I have no photos for that!)

Lord Nelson’s mooring lines around a bollard, keeping the ship tied up in Galle, Sri Lanka

This is what happens when a number of ships have tied up together — and one wants to leave (us, in this case). (Galle, Sri Lanka)

Do you think this dockworker in Mauritius is pondering the accomplished way we tied up Lord Nelson?

Queen Mary 2, tied up in Sydney. This is the only cruise ship that ties up here ‘stern first’ so that its bow sticks out into the harbour.

Tenacious, tied up in Sydney (with the hideous “blot on the landscape” towers of Barangaroo behind)

Tenacious tied up in Fiji.

Voyager of the Seas, tied up in Sydney.

Posted for Becky’s SquareUp challenge. I’ve gone with “playing around with the word up”.

As always, a big thanks to Becky for organising all this square madness!


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Pelicans and petrels

One wingtip drags in the water

I photographed these petrels in the Indian Ocean while sailing from South Africa to India on Lord Nelson in 2013. After leaving Durban, we swung south (way, way south) and east, giving a wide berth to Madagascar and any lurking pirates, before eventually heading northeast, back on track. The weather at 35deg South was not what we expected from the Indian Ocean — grey, chilly, spitting with rain. The bonus was the company of petrels and even albatrosses, following the ship. They never seemed to flap those long wings: a feather lifted here, a wing tilted there. Such effortless flyers. I watched them for hours (frankly, there was little else to do!).

Banking to turn

The pelicans were photographed in Cairns, not quite as exotic a destination as the southern Indian Ocean.

Birds with Long Wingspans is the Bird Weekly theme.

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Me and my shadow

My shadow on the deck of Lord Nelson, 2013 (Indian Ocean)

This week’s Photo Challenge assignment is “focus on the shadow of your subject rather than the subject”. Here are two photos of my shadow back in my intrepid sailor days.

Shadows of me (at left) and other crew members on Tenacious, 2004 (leaving Jersey)

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Crossing the Line

The GPS shows we are on the equator.

Back to ‘Lord Nelson’ in the Indian Ocean for this post. During the voyage from Durban (South Africa) to Kochi (India) in 2013, we sailed over the equator from the southern hemisphere to the northern. In nautical parlance, we Crossed the Line. King Neptune looks with ill favour upon those who dare to cross the line without his permission. He (Captain Barbara, in a very fishy disguise) and his court came aboard the ship with much regal pomp, and proceeded to try for various crimes all those aboard who had not sailed over the equator before. All were, invariably, found guilty.

The arrival of King Neptune and court. That’s “his” consort towering behind the “king”, but a keen eye could recognise the first mate fluttering the fan.

My turn came eventually. My crime was to have failed to bring the sun to the horizon using a sextant during a demonstration of celestial navigation. I was, actually, guilty of that. I was smeared with various galley leavings, fed “bad medicine” and drenched with seawater, and was compelled by King Neptune to Kiss the Fish (as seen in the feature image) — a real, dead, fish, blech.

The Royal Surgeon guides me into the punishment pool.

Part of the certificate from ‘King Neptune’, granting me the right to travel the seas unhindered.

Posted as part of October Squares Lines&Squares

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Firing Line

Assault rifles on deck. (Clothes pegs in purple bucket.)

My 2013 sailing voyage on Lord Nelson from South Africa to India took us through a corner of the internationally recognised area of pirate activity in the Indian Ocean. The ship could not have obtained insurance to enter that area without taking anti-pirate measures. Unknown to any of us crew before the ship left Durban, the Jubilee Sailing Trust had arranged for three former UK armed forces personnel to masquerade as crew members. The men joined the ship in Durban; the assault rifles joined the ship in Mauritius.

Our route through the official pirate danger zone. (Note all those lovely latitude and longitude LINES!)

Our passage was uneventful with nary a pirate to be seen, although we all paid more attention than usual to nearby shipping! What to do with those deadly rifles and all that live ammunition? It was obvious, really: let the crew have a go.

Seriously.

We signed up for “weapons handling” (seriously, again) in which we were taken through checking, loading, firing and unloading, but without ammunition (sensible precaution!). In my journal, I’ve written that when it came to considering letting us actually fire ammunition, the security team “had conducted a formal risk assessment and concluded that barely trained civilians firing live ammo on the deck of a rolling ship would be ‘extremely dangerous’ but the chance of anything going wrong would be ‘highly unlikely’.”

Well, that was reassuring.

Firing Line the line of positions from which gunfire is directed at targets.

We each had three shots at a target being towed 50 metres behind the ship. By the time my turn came, the poor thing had been caught in so many LINES of fire that it was barely visible.

The target (a weighted life jacket) towed behind the ship. It’s attached to the ship by a — yes — LINE.

Again from my journal, with names removed: “The duty watch was removed from the bridge and [the two ex special ops men] did one-on-ones with us as we came up to the bridge in pairs. Before that, in a sort of holding area, we had a reminder from [the third security man] with the other rifle on how to hold it properly and aim, and what to expect from the kick.”

Ex SBS (UK Special Boat Services) man LINES the target up in his sights.

Despite appearances, this is not a pirate threatening one of the security men! Just a misleading camera angle.

Here’s how my turn went: “I put on my ear defenders and safety glasses, and he walked me through the firing. Using my newly acquired training, I executed a Normal Safety Procedure to first ensure the rifle was not ‘live’, then inserted the magazine (at the wrong angle, so he made me re-do it) and cocked the rifle to bring a round into the breech. With my knee braced against the life jackets locker and his hand on my back, and the ship remarkably stable, I had no trouble tracking the target with the red dot. Through the defenders, I could hear him calmly advising me and reminding me to breathe slowly and evenly. Then I slipped off the safety and squeezed the trigger. When done, I removed the magazine and made the rifle safe.”

And if you’re wondering — I hit the target on my first attempt. Pirates, beware!

Posted as part of October Squares Lines&Squares

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Buntlines

main course buntlines (starboard) (plus, at left, the fore royal brace and the fore t’gallant brace) — ‘Tenacious’, in a bit of a storm, Atlantic Ocean

Here are some ‘lines’ I’ll bet none of you have heard of! On a ship, ropes are known as lines. The ‘bunt is the middle part of a sail. I’ve hauled on buntlines more times than I can remember, but I can’t explain what they do as well as wikipedia : “buntlines are small lines fastened to the bottom of the sails, in the middle part of the bolt rope, to the cringle; and so are passed through a small block, seized to the yard. Their use is to trice up the bunt of the sail, to better furl it up”. So, all clear?

fore course buntlines (port) – ‘Lord Nelson’, New Zealand

You can expect to see more nautical-themed lines as the month goes on.

Posted as part of October Squares Lines&Squares

Man climbing the rigging with bagpipes
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Climbing the rigging

Crew climbing the rigging on 'Tenacious', 2006

Crew climbing the rigging on ‘Tenacious’, 2006

Three photos on the theme of Climb. If you’re wondering what’s poking from the bag in the feature photo, it’s bagpipes; don’t ask.

Me climbing the rigging on 'Lord Nelson', 1994

A rare shot of me going aloft! (Safely in port, you’ll notice.) ‘Lord Nelson’, 1994

Crew climbing the rigging on 'Lord Nelson', 1995

Climbing the rigging is hard enough in normal conditions — in unwieldy oilskins and wellies, it’s a real challenge! ‘Lord Nelson’, 1995


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