Catamaran racing Sydney Harbour February 2019
My contribution to Six Word Saturday
Becky is back with another month of square challenges. 🙂 This time it’s skies for December — and I’m only a couple days late joining, which for me is remarkable. I’m kicking off with a stunner (if I say so myself): sunrise over the island of Mauritius, taken in 2013 while sailing across the Indian Ocean from South Africa to India on the tall ship ‘Lord Nelson’.
Be prepared for a lot of photos with sky and ocean, though I’ll try to throw in some non-sailing ones too!
I spent two weeks in June on the tall ship Tenacious sailing around some of the islands that make up Fiji. You’ll no doubt see a few photos on this blog as time goes on (!), but here’s a video I made that sums up the voyage. If the embedded video doesn’t work or you’d prefer the larger version, you can view it directly on youtube.
Tomorrow (2016-06-05) I fly to Fiji to join voyage 461 of the tall ship Tenacious (which starts on 2016-06-08). It will be voyage 15 for me on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s 2 ships.
In 2005, Tenacious graced a 60 cent stamp of the Republic of Ireland (Eire).
I have a particular fondness for this ship because I helped to build her. When the Jubilee Sailing Trust set out to build a second tall ship in the 1990s, they approached its construction the same way they approach the sailing of a ship: a mix of skilled professionals and unskilled lay-people, a mix of able-bodied and physically-disabled people.
The keel of as-yet-unnamed ship was laid by HRH the Duke of York in a ceremony on 1996-07-06. In 2000-09, the JST’s new ship, now proudly named Tenacious, set off on her maiden voyage.
Need more numbers? Tenacious is 65m/213ft3in long (including bowsprit), has a beam of 10.5m/34ft6in, displaces 714tonnes, and has a sail area of 1200m2/12,920sq ft. The masthead is 38m/124ft8in above the deck.
To put those measurements into perspective, here she is in Horta (the Azores) in 2006-04, on voyage 156, dwarfing the yachts and pleasure boats beside her.
This week’s Photo Challenge is to “depict something or someone you admire”. I’d like to introduce you to Captain Barbara Campbell, for whom I have immense admiration.
I first met Barbara about 20 years ago, and have since sailed with her on a number of voyages on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ships Lord Nelson and Tenacious. Among the JST’s thousands of voyage crew, she is known affectionately as simply “Captain Barbara”.
Barbara began her maritime career as a deck cadet with P&O in the 1970s, a time when a life at sea was not generally considered a career option for women. She worked her way up to deck officer and then in 1986 obtained her Master’s Ticket — the first woman in Scotland to do so. While working on ferries and cruise ships, Barbara also “moon lighted” on tall ships, doing odd voyages on Lord Nelson, for example, from 1992. She became captain of Lord Nelson in 1999.
Being a ship’s captain is not all about giving commands: Barbara does more than her fair share of rope pulling and mast climbing. She often makes me feel guilty! I remember one morning on Lord Nelson in the Indian Ocean, my watch was setting a sail before breakfast — with more duty than enthusiasm, it must be admitted. A little white blur shot out of the deckhouse and clapped onto the line with us. Yup, Captain Barbara. As you may imagine, our efforts suddenly intensified!
On long voyages such as ocean passages, there’s time for lighter activities, too. Each JST ship carries up to 40 paying “voyage crew”, and Barbara joins the fun.
Barbara Campbell is a true trailblazer and role model for women in what had been very much a man’s job. Physically petite, she has tremendous presence and authority: when you see her with first mates towering beside her, there’s no doubt who’s in charge! I’ll be sailing on Tenacious around Fiji for two weeks in June, and I hope Captain Barbara is onboard.
‘James Craig’ is a Sydney-based barque-rigged tall ship (the two photos above). If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you will have come across photos taken while sailing in tall ships. This year I joined ‘James Craig’ as a passenger (I felt quite wicked not having to pull ropes, or helm, or go aloft, or clean the heads, or wash the dishes …) for a day sail that also gave prime viewing of the first stage of the annual Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The morning was bright and sunny, and we motored from the ship’s berth in Darling Harbour, along Sydney harbour and out between The Heads (the two headlands that frame the entrance to Sydney harbour from the ocean). It was a perfect few hours of sun tanning, admiring the scenery and taking photos of the ship.
Time to set some sails!
Of course, the highlight of the day was seeing the yachts burst out of the harbour and into the ocean. Since 1945, yachts have competed on the day after Christmas in a race covering the roughly 630nm from Sydney to Hobart. They boats must cross the Bass Strait, notorious for high winds, dangerous currents and unpredictable seas. 2015’s race began in idyllic sunshine in Sydney, but the crews knew they would be facing a “southerly buster” later the first night.
(I freely admit that the quality of these next photos is not great. Maximum camera zoom, sea spray, haze, overcast sky, and trying to shoot bouncing objects while also trying to stay upright on a ship that is itself rolling and pitching was a fatal combination! But you’ll get an idea of what it’s all about.)
The first yachts to pass the heads — and the ones that gather all the glory and excitement — are the biggest ones. These are the rock stars of yacht racing.
Starting to spread out …
And if racing a high-tech 100-foot yacht isn’t hard enough, the crews have to contend with the dozens of small boats around them.
Here’s Wild Oats again. The people give some scale to the size of the yacht!
In case you’ve got the idea that there are only five boats in this race, think again! Dozens of yachts of various sizes take part. The fastest takes just over two days to reach Hobart; the slowest just over four days.
It was time for us to head for home. And yup, it started to rain. The weather did have the advantage of clearing the decks and giving a new look to the ship.
What IS this thing? An exhaust? A speaking tube? A garbage chute?
Here is the ship’s second bell, which I hadn’t spotted until cowering under an awning while hiding from the rain.
I do know that this thing is: a bilge pump, which relies on human power to work. Luckily for the crew (all volunteers), they don’t actually use it.
These wonderful lines belong to a wooden boat mounted on the deck house.
Rain adds an interesting element to things you might otherwise take for granted.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge loomed over us as we neared the turn into Darling Harbour.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into an Australian Boxing Day tradition. I know I had a great day! You can read the full story behind the ‘James Craig’ — its working life, abandonment and resurrection by a dedicated team of volunteers — at the Sydney Heritage Fleet website.
Race update: the wild weather of the first night played havoc with a number of boats. At time of writing, 1 day and 6 hours into the race, 22 yachts have retired, including two of the maxis. The mainsail of Wild Oats (which has been the first yacht to reach Hobart for the past eight years) split during a squall, and although no one was injured the yacht returned to Sydney. Perpetual Loyal pulled out with a broken rudder. Comanche hit something in the dark, suffering a broken rudder and damaged daggerboard, but the crew decided to continue the race as best they could. Hours later, Rambler, too, struck something, but is limping on.
The five yachts closest to Hobart are: Comanche (US), Rambler (US), Ragamuffin (AUS), Maserati (Italy) and Ichi Ban (AUS). If you’d like more information, visit the official race site.