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Main Menu -> User Voyages -> Australian Heritage Fleet -> James Craig - Sydney to Hobart

James Craig - Sydney to Hobart

Log of

February 1st 2005 @ 01:00
33°52'12.00 S 151°11'24.00 E

Heading 180°
Speed 7
no log entry

February 2nd 2005 @ 01:00
36°6'0.00 S 150°11'24.00 E

Heading 178°
Speed 7

Ship's Log:
7.5 nautical miles NE of Montague Island towards Eden

Rain. NE Swell
February 3rd 2005 @ 01:00
37°2'60.00 S 150°0'0.00 E

Heading 134°
Speed 8

Ship's Log:
Clearing Eden Harbour after anchoring overnight to avoid storms in Bass

Fine. NE Swell 2m
February 4th 2005 @ 01:00
39°30'0.00 S 149°5'60.00 E

Heading 192°
Speed 7

Ship's Log:
38 Nautical Miles East of Flinders Island

Rain Showers. NE Swell 2m
February 5th 2005 @ 00:30
42°10'12.00 S 148°18'0.00 E

Heading 90°

Ship's Log:
Anchored in spectacular Wine Glass Bay on the first return of James
Craig to Tasmania since her salvage 32 years ago. A minute´s silence was
observed in honour of all those who voyaged aboard James Craig during her
working life and to those members of the Sydney Maritime Museum who worked
for the restoration of James Craig but who passed away before this voyage.
Today´s crew were proud to be able to tribute to all those who contributed
so much to the restoration and continued operation of the ship.

Rain Showers. Mist on the Hazards. NE Swell 0.5m
February 6th 2005 @ 00:00
42°31'48.00 S 147°55'48.00 E

Heading 173°

Ship's Log:
A brief stop in Wineglass Bay, named for her shape and for the Merlot
colour back in the whaling days. After inspecting the propellers for kelp,
our divers Drew and Bruce returned in the boat at the call of "Anchor
aweigh!"  They solved the mystery of the two white ´fins´ we saw rising and
falling in the swell just off the rocks at the S entrance to the Bay. We had
guessed it might be a dead whale, but in fact it was a sunken yacht.   A
local we met on the beach confirmed it had only been wrecked 3 days ago,
with the loss of one life.  It seems we have luckily (cleverly?) dodged some
cruel weather.  Last night a cruise ship reported 90 kts (yes, ninety knots)
of wind in Bass Strait, and a pan pan message was received from a dismasted
yacht near Wilsons Prom. (too far for us to be of help).  Someone´s looking
after us, and we´ve received good advice from our weather gurus ashore,
thank you!
Our Tassie pilot, Martin North, took us South through Schouten Passage,
around Isle de Phoques and into Mercury Passage at a  rate of knots in
driving rain.  Radar and GPS fixes, with course updates and ETAs every five
minutes, and a team of navigators were firing on all cylinders!  Our mission
was to get alongside Spring Bay wharf before nightfall to fill the
freshwater tanks; and Captain Ken declared showers and beer all round upon
arrival. Most chose to shower with the water.

Fine. Slight Chop
February 7th 2005 @ 00:00
43°8'60.00 S 147°51'36.00 E

Heading 85°

Ship's Log:
Strong winds have kept us pinned alongside Spring Bay Wharf today, but
the ship was a hive of activity, and artist Ian Hansen painted the name of
the ship on the wharf, next to a silhouette of her at anchor.  For lunch,
crayfish and abalone, followed by a concert by The James Craig Reeelers.  At
1730 tugs ´Kiera´ & ´Sydney Cove´ prepared to heave us off.  The latter
vessel towed The Craig from Recherche Bay to Hobart after her salvage in
1973, and in keeping with tradition they offered their service free.  We
couldn´t have done it without them, as the wind was blowing 35 knots,
gusting at 40. The tugs came at very short notice, so ship´s company had to
snap into routine, and the ship was under way. We proceeded down Mercury
Passage, making 15 degrees leeway, despite the wind having eased to 20 kts.
Rugged scenery became shrouded by night, and the Milky Way scored a path for
us across the sky.
Tasman Island was doubled soon after midnight, bringing a sudden change to
the ship.  From a pleasant cruise down the coast, suddenly the ship was
battling heavy rolling, then pitching to a short, sharp swell.  Rod & Deb
copped a beauty over the bow, and Rusty the dog found safety in the arms of
Sybil in her hammock, and they almost became airborne together!
It was a brief battle.  By 0400 we rounded Dead Man´s Island and into the
peaceful anchorage of Carnarven Bay. Salt-caked sailors woke to the
picturesque scenery of Port Arthur, enveloped in dark history, but as pretty
as a post card.
Our old girl was cleaned fore & aft, and Jocelyn Nettlefold from ABC TV
clambered aboard to interview Captain Ken and Alan Edenborough. Look out for
us on the ABC 7:30 Report, Wednesday or Thursday night this week!

Fine. Sunny
February 8th 2005 @ 00:00
43°8'60.00 S 147°51'36.00 E

Heading 225°

Ship's Log:
Carnarvon Bay (Port Arthur) is such a delightful place we decided to
anchor here twice!  The first time at 0400 with the stockless anchor, then
later in the day we heaved up and anchored nearby with the 1.5 ton admiralty
pattern. It´s the first time we have done so, as it is such a beast!  Credit
goes principally to Bosun Steve Robinson, who established the order of
things for getting it safely over the side.  Various work goes on, including
adjustments to the whisker poles, supporting the jib boom.
A sunny, calm day, but there´s some nasty weather about, and it´s better for
us to stay here for the time being.  The barometer has fallen 14 Hp in as
many hours, confirming the weather forecasts, and there´s no point putting
our ship at risk so close to the finish line.
Various other activities continue, including the launching of a kayak by
parbuckling. (You might have to check your dictionaries!) The Mate, Peter
Petroff, is making a cat o´nine tails, much to the concern of anyone with a
guilty conscience, but the specific reason for this show of craftsmanship
remains a mystery...
The afternoon was highlighted by the arrival of tops´l schooner ´One & All´
to a hearty three cheers, and she anchored a cable away (1/10 of a nautical
mile, or 185 metres).  She completes the pretty picture of this idyllic
anchorage, and a boat was soon sent across to us with her bosun, Jenia, (who
helped Peter Ripley make JCs sails some years ago.) ´One & All´ promptly
challenged us to a cricket match, scheduled for tomorrow.

Sunny with occasional light showers
February 9th 2005 @ 01:00
43°8'60.00 S 147°51'36.00 E

Heading 121°

Ship's Log:
Crew from the ´One & All´ were entertained aboard in the fore noon, and
as the weather was favourable for an easterly course, they decided to sail
to Wineglass Bay, forfeiting the cricket game.  That was their excuse,
anyway, but it may be that after seeing our formidable crew, they decided to
back down!  They graciously declared ´James Craig´ the winners, at any rate,
and we look forward to a rematch at the first possibility.
After lunch Bruce Hitchman, 2nd Mate, (and relief Master), gave a talk on
´Tacking a Barque´ to all the crew and passage crew upon the main hatch,
received with eager interest by all who want to learn or refine the art.
Bruce is an authority on the subject, having sailed 3 years in the 4-masted
barque, ´Pamir´ from 1944-47.  ´Pamir´ was one of the last of the ocean´s
cargo ships operating purely under sail, and after his apprenticeship Bruce
spent his entire career in the merchant navy, rising to the rank of Ship
Master.  It is a privelege to have that great maritime tradition passed down
to us first-hand.
Speaking of great traditions, the cat o´ nine tails has been completed, and
the main mast has been chosen as the best place to administer
punishment...but on whom?......
And it is about time that we paid tribute to SailMail without whose support
you would not be reading this log; SailMail allows email to be sent from
ships at sea via HF radio and is a boon to many mariners. Look for more
information on the internet.

February 10th 2005 @ 06:00
43°4'12.00 S 147°16'48.00 E

Heading 95°

Ship's Log:
"Anchor aweigh!" is the cry, and our 1.5 tonne anchor is hauled to the
cathead by 5 men & 1 woman on the capstan singing "Paddy lay back!" A
wistful farewell to Carnarvon Bay, and all plain sail is cracked on as soon
as we get out to sea.  Gentle, wooded slopes give way to the rugged,
vertical cliffs which mark the Southern face of Van Diemen´s Land.  We keep
a good offing, as the thought of meeting with those walls of stone are
enough to chill any sailor´s heart.
A good, stiff breeze from the SW, perfect for tacking, so we put her through
her paces.  Hitchman´s lessons are not in vain, and she "tacks like a
yacht", as the late Alan Villiers promised us.  Villiers sailed in ´James
Craig´ from Sydney to Hobart in 1922, and later worked for the famous Hobart
newspaper, ´The Argus´. He became one of the great writers of the sea, and
in his book ´The Set of the Sail´, dedicates a chapter to his time in the
´Craig´, describing her as ´a particularly lovely vessel.´
Storm Bay paves the way to Hobart, flanked by sloping shores, dotted with
charming cottages assuring us city-worn Sydney-siders that a civilised world
does exist!  The prettiest vessel I ever saw sails out to meet us as we
begin to reduce sail and furl the royals. Two of our crew, Sybil & Drew
Edwards seem particularly excited to see it; their sister Wendy and husband
Mike are aboard their wooden ketch, ´Madoc´.
As the last tops´l is furled we let go in Snug Bay, only 14 nautical miles
from Hobart. We´re almost ´home´, and it feels like the night before a

Overcast Cool
February 22nd 2005 @ 04:00
42°2'60.00 S 148°25'48.00 E

Heading 343°
Speed 5

Ship's Log:
Having received a very warm welcome in Hobart and spending ten busy days
there, we are now retracing our wake towards Sydney.  A calm and sunny
morning makes for an easy departure with engines and a couple of staysails.
A gathering on Macquarie Wharf gives a heart felt farewell at 0900, while
Alan Edenborough´s morning interview on ABC radio goes to air with a song
from The Reeelers.  It´s a pleasure to be returning to the routines of
shipboard life, but it is not without some sorrow that we are leaving this
beautiful harbour city, and many ashore and aboard are wishing for a speedy
Our rounding of Tasman Island is dramatically different to our experience of
two weeks ago.  Instead of darkness and violent seas we have a sparkling
sunny day to view the pinaccle.  The Tasman Island Light rises 900 feet
above us, and a railway track leads up the slope to it from the wharf at 45
degrees angle.  I´m sure many prayers would have been uttered from those
tracks as the lighthouse keepers and their families ascended and descended.
The lighthouse is no longer manned, but a helicopter delivers people to the
island occassionally.
Nearby Cathedral Rock rises up from the sea like great organ pipes or fluted
columns from the late gothic style.  A colony of seals worship nearby,
flippers raised to heaven as they float in the swell.
The middle watch (midnight to 0400) gives us a golden moon to steer by and a
four-hour long display of phosphorescence sparkling around the hull.  Rather
than wait for a fair wind, we must press on, to be anchored off the township
of Bicheno on the NE coast of Tasmania for a special welcome and
celebrations at daylight...

February 23rd 2005 @ 01:00
41°51'36.00 S 148°18'0.00 E

Heading 45°

Ship's Log:
Officers & crew of James Craig were today granted, in the historic town
of Bicheno, "...the rights of freedom from servitude & the right to enter
and march through the streets on ceremonial occasions, free from lawful
challenge, with swords drawn, ensign flying, banners uncased and bands
After anchoring in Waub´s Bay at 0818 hrs, most crew members were ferried
ashore by local fishermen to be greeted by the township.  The occasion was
to receive, on behalf of the Australian Merchant Navy, the honour of Freedom
of Entry, and to pay our respects to lost mariners.
Children of Bicheno Primary School, guardians of a new memorial to the
Australian Merchant Navy, greeted the crew, and Captain Kenneth Edwards laid
a wreath of seaweed (the seaman´s wreath of the sea) in memory of the
thousands of merchant seamen who have died in peace and in war.
Captain Edwards then laid a wreath at the grave of a local Aboriginal
heroine, Waubadabar, who assisted local seamen in peril, and died at sea in
1832. Captain Edwards saluted her grave and paused there while the crew and
townsfolk bowed their heads in respect.  Waub´s Bay is named after her.
The crew were later entertained with songs from the town choir, as a strange
sea mist enveloped the bay and hamlet.  The ship, rolling heavily at anchor
and with spanker set to keep her head to wind, disappeared in the mist, and
the picturesque town was shrouded in white.  As quickly as it appeared, the
mist evaporated to reveal a bright and sunny day before James Craig weighed
anchor for New South Wales.

February 24th 2005 @ 01:00
39°28'48.00 S 149°21'36.00 E

Heading 22°
Speed 7

Ship's Log:
Tasmania has diminished to a pale blue shape on the SW horizon and Bass
Strait lays before us.  There is little wind, so we press on with the ´iron
spanker´ pushing us along. By nightfall the land is only a luminous shape on
the radar screen, and by midnight the radar is an empty screen.
The morning brings a flat horizon and a flat sea.  All that may change with
the dramatic arrival of a bank of crisp white cloud extending right across
the SW horizon.  We square the yards and prepare to lay aloft, but the
clouds are a false promise, and pass over with little effect.
At midday, a sunny calm day in ´the paddock´, as Bass Strait is called by
the locals.  The hatches are opened to air the crew´s quarters while
painting, splicing, writing and hammock repairs go on around the deck.  From
our keel down to the ocean bed is a distance of 4 kilometres (about 2000
fathoms) while infinity spreads above and all around us.  Whales, dolphins
and a ten foot shark are seen.  The evening brings a perfectly full moon and
a copper sky, and our old iron frames rattle to the hum of two propellor
shafts while the masts stand bare.

February 25th 2005 @ 01:00
37°10'12.00 S 150°4'48.00 E

Heading 5°
Speed 6.5

Ship's Log:
´Crack it on´ Hitchman doesn´t wait for a following breeze.  One 0´Clock
in the morning and the wind backs from N to NNW; crack on the fore & main
topmast and mizzen staysails. 0130 hrs, NW; crack on the inner jib. 0230
WNW; crack on lower & upper topsails while a quiet shanty is sung in the
dead of night and halyards creak. "Get a crack on!" says the shadow on the
quarterdeck, distinguished by a white naval cap glowing beneath the moon.
"Crack it on!"
The following watch inherits a mission: to crack on more sail! The wind
backs further to W by S and the spanker is set, followed by the fores´l, the
mains´l, and at first light the fore topgallant. (Some would argue it should
have been the main t´gallant.)
At last, this rattle-weary vessel becomes a ship again, gliding effortlessly
across the pond, and the first golden glint of morning sun presents Mother
Ocean a sight worthy of Her Majesty.  First light also presents our first
sight of Mother Earth as Victoria rises on the port bow. Even Rusty the Dog
has a kick in his step, and celebrates with a little brown parcel for the
The mutton birds are all around, some flying, others riding the ocean wave.
Also, a couple of albatross. There used to be hundreds, but long-line
fishing has killed all but a few of those magnificent birds.
The ship glides along at six-and-a-half knots, and at this rate we´ll be in
Sydney sooner than we´d like. The cure is a call into Eden, so a berth is
secured and the ship ties up alongside in Snug Cove. A perfect excuse to
"Crack open a beer", says Mr. Hitchman.

February 26th 2005 @ 01:00
37°4'12.00 S 149°54'0.00 E

Heading 235°

Ship's Log:
Eden is a little paradise nestled around Twofold Bay. The main
industries are fishing, tourism and timber, and it has a particularly
interesting history of the whaling industry.  Whaling began here in the
early 1800s when men risked their lives in small boats using hand-held
harpoons to catch the great beasts.  In the 1920s whalers were assisted by
´Old Tom´ and his pod,  killer whales who would lead the fishermen to the
humpback and sperm whales as they cruised past on their way up the coast.
Old Tom would even grab the boat´s painter (rope) and tow them out to the
whales if he didn´t think they were rowing fast enough! Tom and his mates´
reward was the tongue and lips of the whale. The tongue of a sperm whale
could weigh up to 4 tons.
When Old Tom died in 1931 his skeleton was preserved and is now on display
in the Eden Killer Whale Museum. You can see for yourself where Tom´s teeth
are worn from towing the boat´s painter. With his death the whaling industry
in the district also died, and whaling was made illegal in Australia in
1978. Their numbers are rising again now, and every October Eden holds a
´Whale Festival´ with live music and numerous other activities to coincide
with the migration of whales along the coast, which can be clearly seen from
the cliff tops.
After a night on the town and a lazy morning, we set sail at 1400. The
locals gave us three cheers and invited James Craig to return in October for
the Whale Festival. We now make our way north with the promise of a fair
wind from our friends in the weather bureau.

February 27th 2005 @ 13:00
34°17'60.00 S 151°14'24.00 E

Heading 26°
Speed 12

Ship's Log:
A fair and gentle breeze is taking us north, along the coast of New
South Wales. At 0215 the engines are shut down and by 0630 all plain sail is
set. The navigators are taking advantage of prominant landmarks such as
Pigeon House Mountain and Point Perpendicular, and the chip log is streamed
to measure 4 knots exactly.
At 1630 the boat is launched so that the cameraman, Barry Nichols, can get
some film of James Craig under full sail.  Barry has been with us since
before we left Sydney and has captured many magic moments. He´s become one
of the crew, and when he doesn´t have a camera attached to his head he´ll
help us furl sails or haul on halyards. He´s making a documentary called
´Shipmates´ which will be available for world-wide release.
The wind has been backing and veering on our starboard quarter, and as it
veers to S by E the mains´l is scandalised to allow air to flow to the head
yards. At 2015 hrs the Moon with Jupiter rises on our starboard beam, the
lights of Kiama pass by to port, and the ´Global Steel Challenge´ yachts
race past on both sides on their way to Cape Town. (Luckily we´re on a
starboard tack!) By midnight we´re 18 miles south of Botany Bay.


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