Mon Mar 5 09:43:34 EST 2012

Deakin University Feb 2012

Well, I'm back from the ship's latest voyage: 10 days at sea helping to run Deakin University's Audacious Leadership course. These are some of my favourite voyages because the trainees are always very enthusiastic and don't complain when things get a bit tough. Anyway, we finished getting the ship ready, moved into our bunks and then we were off!

Being MBA students, they it was inevitable that they'd slip back into corporatespeak after a couple of days. One trainee wasn't doing so well on the helm, so it was suggested that a personalised performance management plan be put in place to monitor steering KPIs. I suggested that we implement a synergistic trainee-oriented win-win holistic steering process and three of them spewed. Not from seasickness, either.

Jack's Bunk

Despite the broken sleep and night watches, the voyage almost felt like a holiday after the last maintenance period. I even managed to polish off a couple of books. Keeping watch in the middle of the night with a gentle roll is really peaceful, especially under sail with the sound of the crickets chirping. Wait, crickets?

Cricket

Yes, crickets. Although there are hardly any insects on board, a few of these guys must've snuck in during maintenance. A few went overboard from the wind and wash but the rest were caught in a cardboard box and sent ashore.

We had a great few days of sailing and motoring, from Recherche Bay to Great Oyster Bay, with most of the sails set:

Nock and Main Staysail Square Sails

At this point, things went a bit awry. I sat down to have a rest and saw this:

Breaking Steering Cable, Installed Breaking Steering Cable, Removed

That's one of the steering cables. If it had gone, we'd only be able to turn to port. We quickly readied the emergency steering in case it broke completely and set a course for a nearby anchorage.

We made it to Morey Bay, which is off the north coast of Schouten Island and dropped the pick. Once the ship was secure at anchor, we replaced the cables with a spare pair. It was at this point that I discovered that at least two of the crew believe in a concept of "ship's karma": that preventative maintenance earns brownie points with the ship itself, and she'll come through when things get really tough.

Anyway, it was dark by the time we were finished, so we spent the night at anchor. A ship at anchor is required to display a white light visible from all angles, so being anchored near other ships always looks a little eerie:

Some Other Ship at Anchor

Morning rolled around, and it was time to pick up the anchor and go. Raising the anchor is a big production. First, there needs to be two people in the cable locker. They flake out the chain as it comes in so that it doesn't form a giant tangle.

Cable Locker Entrance Inside the Cable Locker

Next, you need someone controlling the windlass that actually raises the anchor, someone on deck to hose the chain as it comes on board and someone over the side to hose the chain as it comes out of the water. You don't want the mud from the bottom of the anchorage coming onboard. Once the anchor comes out of the water, the person over the side has to climb onto it and connect the lifting derrick:

Jack on the Anchor

So we got moving again and headed back down towards Tasman Island. One of the lookouts called "dolphins off the port bow!":

Dolphins More Dolphins

I never tire of seeing dolphins. They're the showoffs of the sea, sure, but everyone loves watching them playing in the bow wave. They rock up for a little while, show off and then disappear. We passed the Totem Pole and the Candlestick:

Totem Pole and Candlestick

And continued on towards Tasman Island when the Captain called to "aim straight for the middle of the gap":

The Gap (Aft View)

(That's actually the view after we left.) The last time the ship attempted to pass through this gap was in 2004, when a 50kt squall forced her to turn back and go around the outside. The inside of Tasman Island is stunning:

Tasman Island Trees

There's a little seal colony, too:

Tasman Island Seal Colony

And some lucky sod has a little shack there:

Tasman Island Shack

Cape Pillars, on the other side, is also extremely impressive. One of the few times that my camera didn't let me down:

Cape Pillars

The peace and quiet of the sea (at least when it's not crazy), coupled with that image and memories of Anathem makes me want to set up or spend some time at a "monastery of code". A good and quiet place to work. Wouldn't that be nice?

The sun went down, the moon came up and we kept on sailing.

Sunset Moonrise

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: windeward_bound