Listed below are descriptions of our typical voyages, and the activities they include. In all cases, we will work with your organisation to custom-design your voyage's activities and curriculum.
Derwent River, local
Typically 1/2 - 1 day in length
Sail handling - Students are able to experience a "light" version of the sail-handling that goes on during longer voyages. Starting with a general lesson, groups rotate through stations, and each student has the opportunity to help raise or lower our sails.
Vessel steering - Interested students rotate through the helm station, receiving one-on-one instruction from the designated helmsman on topics such as visual navigation, proper steering technique, and the physics of how a rudder works.
Basic navigation - Small groups have the opportunity to learn the basics of navigation, reviewing concepts such as latitude and longitude, and how to read nautical charts.
Aloft "up-and-overs" - Generally only available on full day sails. Students aged 14+ go through a safety induction, don safety harnesses, and under close supervision of the ship's crew, climb aloft to the lowest platform, then climb back down again on the other side of the ship. This is one of the most anticipated - and sometimes feared! - parts of our sail training programs.
D'entrecasteaux Channel & Recherche Bay
Typically 1 - 5 days in length
Protected waters, with the option of some sailing in open ocean
History of Recherche Bay - A guided historical tour along the banks of Recherche Bay, the landing and temporary settlement site of French explorer Bruni D'entrecasteaux, and his ships Recherche and Esperance, 1792 - 1793.
Maritime skills - Trainees rotate through stations, receiving instructions on topics such as navigation, sail-handling, the physics of sailing, and marlinspike seamanship.
Working aloft - All trainees are encouraged but not required to assist our crew in working with the sails aloft. A training-focused induction session at anchor must be completed before any trainees are permitted to work aloft while underway.
Storm Bay - If the wind and weather cooperate, the ship may have the opportunity to venture into Storm Bay where the full effects of the wind and sea can be felt, and the crew will be able to use their newly developed skills!
Full Sail Training Voyages
Typically 8 - 10 days in length
Extended sailing in open ocean
These longer voyages tend to be of the more traditional sail training variety -- meaning that days are filled with the "experience" of shiplife, with less of a focus on an organised curriculum. Trainees are split into three teams called "watches" that cover 24 hours of the day, and time is spent learning to run the ship, standing watch, handling sails; cleaning, sleeping, and eating. (For a more detailed description, see A Typical Voyage below.) All curriculum options listed above are also possible, and we will gladly work with you to incorporate more traditional elements into the voyage, as listed above. Some of our partners even design and lead the day-to-day activities of their program, and leave us to simply sail the ship!
East Coast of Tasmania
Additional activity options, all wind and weather dependent:
- Coles Bay
- Maria Island stopover
- Furneaux & Kent Island Groups
- Bass Strait
Southeast Coast of Tasmania & Port Davey
Additional activity options, all wind and weather dependent:
- Recherche Bay stopover & history tour
- Deny King history tour
- Zodiac ride up Melaleuca River
- Davey River Gorge
- Hike Mount Beattie or Mount Parry
A Typical Voyage
Day 1 - Sunday
After much preparation, the very tired, 20 strong group of 18 sail trainees and 2 teachers arrived on board Windeward Bound at 1100. We sailed very shortly thereafter and proceeded across the River Derwent and anchored under the lee of Howrah Bluff for the safety indoctrination, ship familiarisation and housekeeping rules, not to mention the all important first climb aloft and a full emergency muster with Lifejackets on.
At this stage, there were 20 strange faces for us to get used to and for them, 9 strange faces to learn to recognise and also learn where we all fitted into this totally foreign world they have suddenly entered. I say foreign not because they are in Australia, but foreign because they have entered our world where the language, although English, contains much jargon and phraseology not even found in the Oxford dictionary.
At about 1800 we weighed anchor and proceeded down the river and into the D'Entrecastaux Channel, where we proceeded to Barnes Bay on Bruny Island and anchored for the night. This was the trainees first introduction to 'watchkeeping', - anchor watches! Barnes Bay was also chosen as a close destination to allow the Trainees to get some necessary rest and be ready for a harder, more intensive day the next day.
They learnt very quickly that even though a ship is at anchor, a diligent watch must be kept to ensure that the ship remains where we have put her. There is always the risk of an unexpected gale, or even another vessel arriving late and anchoring too close to our cable.
Day 2 - Monday
After a quite night and a good breakfast cheerfully prepared by our cook Jan, we mustered and explained what we would be doing that day, our destination and what to expect when we got there. They were also told about the concept of "Rope races" and when they would begin.
Following the muster, the trainees were introduced to what proved to be a totally new concept to all of them, cleaning the ship!!! It seems that few of them, if any, were required to physically participate in cleaning at home, so there was much learning of new skills to be done. To their credit, they all cheerfully pitched in and got on with it, even if at first, the watch leaders had to carefully supervise it all.
After finishing cleaning stations, we mustered everyone for the first Rope-Race. A "Rope-race" is designed to make all the trainees and watch-leaders intensify their learning of the various knots, sail handling lines, safety equipment and general ship's equipment. It works like this:
- The day before, either myself or one of the Mates writes up a list of knots (say 10 or so) and nominates the sails whose various lines may be included in the "race".
- The day of the race, either myself or one of the Mates completes a list of 10 questions compiled from the above knots, lines etc.
- Each watch-leader nominates one of the Trainees from their watch to compete for the watch. They are given a short length of line and the first person to hold their completed and correct knot up for inspection wins the point. Similarly, when I nominate a line, all three race off to touch it, and the first to do so also wins a point.
- Once the 10 questions are finished, the scores are added up and kept for the next Rope-race.
There is a new race each day, depending on weather and sail handling requirements. At the end, the watch with the highest aggregate score is the "Winning Watch".
After the first rope race, the leading watch was White Watch with 6 points, second was Blue Watch with 3 points and then Red Watch with 1 point.
On completion, we weighed and headed "down channel" setting 3 square sails (forecourse and 2 topsails) and the staysails, while Ed the second Mate, together with Red Watch leader Ruth and Blue Watch Assistant leader Kate went aloft to the T'gallant to finish bending it back following it's trip to the sail-makers for repair.
It was a wonderful sail down the channel, making between 5 and 6 knots with the wind dead astern and freshening to 16 to 18 knots. All the trainees received an immediate lesson in keeping "Watch on Deck" discovering the importance of keeping lookout, the challenge of steering by both the wind and the compass, and the teamwork involved in setting and striking sails, easing this as someone else heaves on that, all at the orchestration of the Watch Leader.
Just as night was closing in, we arrived at our destination, Recherche Bay. The stiff North Easterly wind meant that we could not use the usual anchorage, and we received a radio message from a fishing vessel advising that the corner of the bay he was anchored in was snug and secure, we proceeded there, securely anchored, and another night of anchor watches began, punctuated by furious practice at knot tying and identification of the tops'l lines in readiness for the next rope race.
Day 3 - Tuesday
Mustered at 0830, briefed everyone on the days activities ahead and weighed anchor, proceeding down into Rocky Bay and sent 2nd Mate Ed in with the Zodiac to find our guide Jo. Finally located which beach she was on, anchored off and brought her aboard. We then landed all the Trainees and some staff crew ashore and they set off for Fischer Point, Jo leading the way.
When they returned to the beach, we ferried everyone back on board for lunch while we moved the ship back up to "The Pigsties" bay, inched her between the 2 guarding reefs and anchored as close to the landing beach for the French Gardens as we dared. We then landed everyone, formed into 2 groups and fought the sword grass and leeches into the ruins of the vegetable gardens planted by the French during the 1792 expedition.
Incidentally, the "Pig sties" is where the 19th Century Barque "James Craig" was laid to rest for many, many years before being recovered in the 1970's by a farsighted group from the Sydney Maritime Museum, taken to Hobart and then to Sydney for a 30 year restoration program (This Captain was one of the group, thought by many at the time to be "mad" for considering, let alone doing, such a thing.) Well, the result is now in Sydney for all to see and enjoy, fully restored and sailing, one of only 4 large 19th century Barques still operational in the world!)
We then weighed and motored back down to Rocky Bay for the night, dropping Jo and her assistants back on the beach for the long drive back to Hobart.
Day 4 - Wednesday
We weighed anchor at 0715 and proceeded to sea, sailing down to Southeast Cape and rounding it into the Southern Ocean and giving everyone an outstanding view of Tasmania's Southern coastline. This wild and untamed coastline, part of the 40% of Tasmania locked up in National Parks and World Heritage Area, seems as inaccessible today as when the first European explorers set eyes on it. The South-East Cape is one of the 3 capes in the world that sailing vessels of old had to round to pass from one ocean to the other, and to turn North for Sydney. The other two of course are the famous Cape Horn and the equally famous, Cape of Good Hope.
Having rounded the Cape, we reluctantly reversed our course, re-rounded it again, and set a course for the Tasman Peninsula and the infamous convict settlement of Port Arthur.
We were blessed with a following wind, so important in a square-rigged ship and soon the trainees settled down to the steadiness of an uninterrupted passage across the aptly named Storm Bay. A ship under passage at sea performs much like a floating village. The watch on deck is looking after the operations of the ship and the off watches are going about their business. Eating, sleeping, chatting, playing cards or other games, showering etc.
The calm conditions and sunny day inspired the girls to all join in a communal hair washing event. (Due to the problems of hair clogging the shower pump, all hair washing is done on deck.) There was much mirth and laughter at this (to them) novel way of doing this apparently very necessary ritual.
It was a full 24 hour sail, and at 0800 the next morning, we entered the approaches to Port Arthur, and as we rounded the Isle of the Dead (the burial place for convicts and soldiers alike) the now beautiful vista of the sandstone buildings and green parklike lawns of what was a living hell for the convicts sent there, and not much less of a one for the soldiers guarding them, was unveiled by the morning mist.
Day 5 - Thursday
We anchored the ship and I went ashore to organise entry tickets and a guided tour, and having bought the first newspaper I had seen for many days, returned to the ship and the 2nd Mate started ferrying everyone in. Everyone was armed with a bottle of water and lunch, and I understand some of the Trainees assisted the profits of the café while they were there. While everyone was ashore, we set about some maintenance. The paper revealed that absolutely nothing had improved in the world in the preceeding days, it was still a mess.
We remained at anchor that night, having had another rope-race that afternoon bringing the scores up to White Watch 8, Blue Watch 7 and Red watch 5.
Day 6 - Friday
Although due to sail that morning, we had another rope-race following the night's anchor watches, and this time the aggregate score was White Watch 15, Blue Watch 8 and Red Watch 7 with the final round on Saturday morning before berthing in Hobart.
Discovering we had a very badly twisted anchor cable, a decision was made to untwist it back to the bitter end as it has to be ready for "letting go" to it's full length in the event of an emergency. This took the Red Watch Leader and the 2nd Mate almost 3 hours of intense work in the confines of the cable locker before we were ready to go to sea.
As the wind was from the right quarter, we left under sail with the intention of going around Tasman Island at the tip of the forbidding Tasman peninsula. As we cleared the cove and began to head toward the peninsula, the wind increased and was gusting to 40 knots. Expecting much worse off the peninsula itself, all sail was struck and trainees and watch leaders went aloft to furl the sails. This was a difficult challenge in the rising wind but was accomplished with perseverance.
As Tasman Island came into view, white water could be seen between the Island and Tasman Peninsula, so a decision was reluctantly made to cancel the attempt at Tasman Island and turn downwind for Hobart.
Although strong, it was a good wind for the Lower Tops'l. It eased as we went and so we progressively set the Mainsail, forestays'l and mainstays'l and we scudded across Storm Bay while watching a growing storm front building ahead of us. There was obvious rain and a great wide band of frontal cloud that was so sharply etched, it looked as if it had been cut with a sharp pair of scissors. It grew ominously purple and we decided to strike all sail and furl it while we could. For a while there, it looked like we'd been too cautious, then suddenly it hit. Heavy, driving rain, hailstones, thunder and lightning and zero visibility with the wind rising in excess of 40 knots.
At times like this, it is my duty to man the radar in the chartroom and con the ship from there with the 1st Mate on the wheel. Checking on the Trainees, I was surprised to find most of them on deck, revelling in the drama of the storm. They seemed to see it as a fitting end to a great voyage.
The storm continued as we came up the Derwent River, finally drying up as we approached the night's anchorage at Kangaroo Bluff on the eastern side of the river opposite Hobart. We finally dropped anchor at half an hour past midnight with the watch keeping team very tired from almost 12 hours of continuous duty.
Day 7 - Saturday
All up at 0600 for breakfast, the final rope-race and the dash across the Derwent to be alongside at 0800. The final rope-race was enthusiastically undertaken with the final scores White Watch 18, Blue Watch 14 and Red Watch 8.
Finally alongside with crew photos all taken and long goodbyes said, we all waved off our wonderful group of Trainees as they were whisked off to the airport.
In summary, I believe we fulfilled the expectations of the program. Myself, my officers, and my crew all thoroughly enjoyed having every one of them on board. They were a wonderful group of young people who willingly involved themselves in anything they were asked to do, went aloft without question as required, engaged themselves seriously into the rope-races, cleaned furiously with the best of them, and, I believe, achieved much personal growth as a result. Some even took a liking to polishing brass, taking a personal delight in achieving a high state of shine.
In all, a voyage we consider to have been highly successful and having achieved the very spirit of Sail Training.
Captain Sarah Parry