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Eye of the Wind - Newsletter No 5

A great deal has happened since our last newsletter in June, alas none of it under sail. Firstly the good news. EOW will resume sailing on the 23rd November. We will be joining the First Fleet Re-Enactment voyage from Fremantle, arriving there approximately 20 December 1987, for the final leg to Botany Bay. Celebrations commence with the First Fleet Re-Enactment sailing into Botany Bay on 20 January 1988 where the vessels will be at anchor in the same position in which the original fleet anchored two hundred years ago, departing in the early hours of the morning of Australia Day to sail through Sydney Heads and come to anchor at Farm Cove at 1127 hrs as did the original fleet. To date it is unknown as to whether the First Fleet Re-Enactment vessels will participate in the Parade of Sail later during that day.

Eye of the Wind is due to depart Sydney on 1 February 1988 for slipping and UK survey at Woollongong. She will then rejoin the fleet for the Bicentenary voyage, details of which are enclosed.

Should anyone wish to participate in the advertised passages, please book through Adventure Under Sail, to ensure that you are able to secure a berth aboard Eye of the Wind. Those booking through Bounty Voyages direct, will have no guarantee as to which vessel they may be allocated.

We sincerely apologise to all those people who were disappointed about our decision not to participate in the Tall Ships Race and other associated voyages beforehand. We also apologise to all those who were cancelled at various times throughout the year and thank you for your patience and understanding. This has been a year which we would all prefer to forget. We are pleased to be able to announce plans for our Pacfiic voyages for 1988.

The last five months........

As reported in our last newsletter, the British Department of Transport (DOT) had imposed their new stability rules upon us after the findings of the enquiry into the loss of the Marques. Despite careful examination of the legal aspects of this imposotion, it appeared that we had no option other than to carry out the prescribed alterations to improve the stability of the ship to the new standard. This meant removing, all the ballast which consisted of 70 tons of concrete railway sleepers, granite cobblestones and blue metal chippings. The exercise took the better part of two weeks. In the end, the wharf looked like a World War II fortification. Fortunately, the Maritime services Board of NSW found a suitable use for the 30 tons of metal. The railway sleepers have become drying supports for their wooden counterparts at Gosford and the Swedish cobblestones have found a new lease of life as part of a photographers studio.

Cleaning the bilges of scale and rust proved to be the worst job of all. Five solid weeks of chipping, scraping, sand-blasting etc. had the hull plates and frames looking immaculate, whilst the rest of the ship and crew were beginning to look like a well used colliery. With a four day period out of the water to inspect the hull and with the application of great quantities of evil smelling brown paint, much of which seemed to end up over the crew, the ship was ready for re-ballasting.

Our Naval Architects had assured us that by fitting 85 tons of ballast, 20 tons of lead and 65 tons of pig-iron, that the ship would meet with the terms of the new stability requirement, 80°. But, only if we dispensed with the main yards. The thought of sailing without the main squares was not at all well received, when so much thought time and effort had been put towards their very creation, not to mention the obvious advantages achieved by their existence. After much discussion and more calculations, it was calculated that 45 tons of lead and 40 tons of iron would become the final ballast.

Obtaining this quantity of lead quickly was more difficult than expected. Ten tons was obtained from Alma Doepel in Melbourne, twenty tons was excavated from the bowels of an old minesweeper from Homebush, Sydney, between tides. Many thanks to Ove Jensen. The remaining fifteen tons came from a scrap metal merchant in one ton lots as he was able to smelt in between the frequent rain sqalls at the time.

The iron was easier to obtain. Twenty five tons of pig-iron had been donated to New Endeavour, which has since been burnt and is now gone forever. This was carried by semi-trailer from Ballina. Thirteen tons of railway lines, we seem to have an affinity with railways, was donated by a friend of the ship, conveniently cut to length to fit between the frames. The other two tons was made up of bits and pieces which we had been able to collect during the re-ballasting exercise./p>

Four weeks of extremely hard work in very cramped conditions, saw all of this installed and secured to the satisfaction of the DOT surveyor. A further inclining experiment was conducted on the 8th September and the results were that the ship could comply with the new requirements, in fact slightly exceed the requirement of 80° knockdown, in all conditions, with the entire rig intact. All the hard work had been rewarded.

The new stability information was forwarded to the DOT London and finally on the 4th November we were officially, advised that the data had been accepted and given the official stamp of approval. But, this is only the beginning. Owing to the fact that our Load Line Exemption Certificate Survey is due to expire on the 16th January 1988, DOT UK, demand that a UK surveyor be flown out at our expense to carry out a full survey of the vessel. It has come as somewhat of a shock to us as well as to the DOT Australia, particularly as many of the surveyors are also certified UK surveyors.

Repeated requests for an extension to the survey have been denied. DOT UK argue that EOW has not been surveyed in the UK since 1981, so therefore they are justified in insisting that their own surveyors conduct the next survey. Current regulations preclude EOW from being eligible for Commonwealth of Australia survey, whose regulations are strictly designed for newly constructed vessels.

At the end of the day, First Fleet organiser, Wally Franklin, who took the punt that EOW would ultimately join the Fleet and subsequently advertised our involvement, was able to persuade the DOT UK to extend our current survey until 30th June 1988, on the grounds that we participate in the First Fleet Re-Enactment from Fremantle until the end of May 1988.

And so the saga of bureaucracy continues. Again we would like to thank all those who have contributed in so many ways and who gave us moral support and the courage to continue.

A wind is rustling 'South and soft'
Cooing a quiet country tune
The calm sea sighs, and far aloft
The sails are ghostly in the moon.

Unquiet ripples lisp and purr
A block there pipes and chirps the sheave,
The wheel ropes jar, the reef points stir
Faintly - and it is Christmas Eve.

Tonight beneath the dripping bows
Where flashing bubbles burst and throng
The bow wash murmurs, sighs and soughs
A message from the angel's song.

From: Christmas at Sea, by John Masefield


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