February 2020
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Thoughts of A Endevour Shipkeeper



Endeavour Visits Eden


On the 8th of May 2012 the Sydney Maritime Museum owned 18th century replica Endeavour sailed into Twofold Bay, Eden. Mooring at the Breakwater wharf. The captain and crew had arrived at the final leg of a thirteen month circumnavigation of Australia following copies of Cooks original charts. While moored at the wharf the ship would be transformed from sailing mode to Museum Mode so as to depicted life on board in Cooks’ day, and was open to the public for exhibition.


It was my privilege as an Endeavour volunteer guide, to experience a night rostered on ship

keeping duty. I was one of six lucky people chosen for that night. Boarding the lovely 18th Century ship, I felt a great sense of pride and responsibility as I looked up at the rigging that was illuminated by the spotlights on the deck.


                   Rigging Illuminated By the Spotlights on Deck


Our night began below, in the 20th century deck, so called as it’s where the crew of today mess (eat and socialise) in the galley where we’re able to make a cuppa and get to know each other a little. It was good to hear that all of us felt that same sense of responsibility. There we were greeted by a member of the crew of Endeavour and were given our watch roster, and instructed in safety procedures and the duties to be carried out as shipkeepers on their watch.


Ship Keeper at the Helm


Each ship keeper was given a two hour watch. Some of those who drew later watches chose to go up to the 18th century deck to their hammocks and slept until called for their watch duty.

I drew the 5-7 am watch. Being only nine p.m. it was too early yet for me to sleep, I chose to stay below and read from the ships bookshelf. I learned some interesting facts about our sea faring history. Then up a level to the 18th century to get some sleep before my watch.

        18th Century Hammock (still used by todays crew)


Lying in my hammock, gently swaying, listening to the water lapping on the Jarrah timbers of the replica 18th century ship. I imagined what life on board Cook’s Endeavour must have been like. Looking around the Port side (left) the 18th century Mates Mess set up as if Cooks crew were just about to have a meal. On the Starboard side (right) set up to reflect life in the mess at night, with hammocks slung over the tables. These were also our beds for night.


Today’s Captain and crew use the cabins and some hammocks just as in Cook’s day. Supernumeries, better known as paying passengers, can also choose to stay in a hammock or one of the original 18th century style cabins.


 The Great Cabin


I wake a little before 5am and made my way back down stairs for my turn on watch. With the Checklist handed over I begin.

Moving toward the bow of the ship to check water level in the heads (toilets) Moving aft (toward the rear) to check the galley (kitchen) on the way to the Engine room where bilge water levels were checked and recorded. Further aft to record temperatures of fridge and freezer.

Moving to the 18th Century deck making sure everything was OK. After checking all cabins and areas on this deck it was time to venture topside for checks on the weather deck.

I continued my watch around the upper deck. Checking gangway secure, mooring ropes in place. Then onto the wharf to check on mooring ropes and admire the ship with all the rigging illuminated. Back on board after checks were done. Back down to the galley for some more reading until the next hourly check.On My 6an watch I was Lucky enough to see the first light of day through the open loading ports at the stern of the ship and was treated to an amazing sunrise. Leaving the ship at 7am I was weary but happy, having had one of the most rewarding and privileged experiences of my life.

Some interesting statistics:            The Replica Endeavour: Sailed 13,300 Nautical miles

                                                                                       Stopped at 15 Ports

                                                                                       Assisted by 800 Volunteers

                                                                                       Hosted 75,000 Visitors

                                                                                       Visited by 18,000 students






 Story and Photos courtesy Bill Porter, one of the Australian National Maritime Museum Volunteers