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From: David Jarman [dsrjarman@hotmail.

com] Sent: 26 January 2003 08:53 Subject: january sails from even the most cursory glance at the newspaper front pages over the past few weeks, it appears the world is ever more interrelated, with the build up of troops and sleek weapons of mass destruction in the gulf as the phenomenon’s latest catalyst. the port of fremantle, just south of perth and where i spent christmas and new year, has played host to a number of american and australian naval vessels recently. technologically, the sleek aircraft carriers have a cold menace; at the human level, their 6,000 or so personnel were due to be heading home for a while, not any more. it seems ironic to me that while anti-war protest rallies and email petitions have been held and sent around the globe, i have never been so isolated as at times during the last month; my world was a hundred foot long or so, and as independent as you could hope to find. with the end of my trip to this green, red, brown and pleasant land in sight, i ran away to sea. though surrounded by very large ships designed to damage or move things in distant lands, in very large quantities, i was on board the ‘windeward bound’ as it slipped into the indian ocean from the swan river. en route to albany on australia’s southern coast, we had two weeks of varied conditions, diverse personalities and invigorating sailing ahead, on board a two masted tall ship as it circumnavigates the continent. sheltered coves and rolling seas, coastal towns and empty horizons, in a self contained mix of wood, canvas, rope and brass. * two hundred years ago, ambitious british explorer and chart maker matthew flinders used the ‘investigator’ to circumnavigate and name terra australis; australia. at a scientific level, his work is astonishingly accurate; egotistically speaking he named what he saw after everyone but himself; politically, the french were fishing around at a time when planting enough flags was crucial to a nation’s self interest. in a similar sized ship, but with two dozen rather than 90-odd crew, the windeward bound ( is following flinders’s wake, accompanied all the way by ‘the australian’ newspaper’s journalists (, and part of the way by me. now, you might think that a trip like this would be all about finding deserted pockets of fine sand and emerald waters to swim in; of navigating through the night by the position of the southern cross and other constellations; there might even be dolphins playing in the bow wave and circling the boat in your vision, while wandering albatrosses and mutton birds skim the surface. maybe you can perceive times when you’d have a three metre following swell breaking just over your shoulder, as you helm a 105 ton ship happily surfing at over seven knots. i guess i’d love to say it was all like that, but i would be forgetting the shore leave, guinness and black sambucas in western australia’s oldest pubs; the gourmet meals served from the galley; the wealth

of experiences and backgrounds brought onto the ship through its crew; and the many small events which peppered the trip. the isolation was at times complete, it took 2 days for news to reach us that the nation’s capital was in flames while we were well over 100 miles off shore and 5,000 metres from the seabed. when we did arrive in port, we were the news, from onboard receptions to the warm welcomes in shops, restaurants and, of course, hostelries. the daily routine of life at sea is governed by your watches, the one on your wrist and the group of people you change sails and scrub decks with. the ship itself never sleeps, and to look in the mirror sometimes you doubt it’s the only one – although i avoided any seasickness to compound the glazed look in my eyes. so, you’re woken with half an hour to spare, work out the boat’s course from a) the angle and direction of your berth’s lean in its cosy cabin, and b) just how difficult it proves to get dressed in the gloom without waking anyone else and take a judicious trip to the head (toilet) before pulling on wet weather gear. then four hours of taking a small group of people through white capped water as a crimson sunrise catches the few clouds one by one, picks off the taught square sails on the foremast, and sets the sea on fire. the stars fade, and the black of night gives way to shimmering pale skies and seas of the deepest blue that will soon offer up tuna for lunch, and small sharks for photographing and putting back. as the day wears on, courses are changed, people climb masts, and sails are set and dowsed accordingly. there came a point in the voyage where not only was i remembering which clew to release and which sheet to haul, but my blistered hands were repairing themselves quicker than i could damage them. courses could be set to compass directions, the small ship shrinking before the helm’s eyes to a small white disc of numbers and the letters n, e, s and w. alternatively, instructions were issued from the chartroom to keep as close to the wind as possible without creeping too far and stalling. the disc in front of you expands to horizon, your references are the sails and the wind shifts; for half an hour early one morning, i found myself keeping up with a freshening breeze as it swung through 100 degrees or so. landmarks such as cape leeuwin, lighthouses or old whaling stations pass by the port bow, identified by the latest technology and old fashioned lookouts. such moments of good sailing, when the boat worked with the elements and rolled rather than punched through the waves, made the trip. we covered 107 nautical miles in an 18 hour period at one point; i savoured part of the experience with an open air salt water hair wash and shave as a blood red sunset heralded the milky way and a filling moon. * when it comes to painting the hull, the windeward bound is akin to the forth rail and sydney harbour bridges – finish at one end, start again at the other. through the course of three and half weeks, myself and peter heat-scraped, sanded, under coated and glossed our way along the port and starboard sides, weaving amongst the rigging to get the most comfortable or photogenic pose, or trusting temporary stages. my finest achievement is the run of gun

ports painted along either side: they may look like just a series of black rectangles on an ochre yellow background, but in reality they’re many man hours, and a steady hand’s work. i also seem to have inherited my gran’s brass polishing skills, now finely honed through practise on ship’s wheel, bell and compass; she’ll be proud of me. while the maintenance and upkeep truly never ends, my time on board drew to a close in albany. my hair hasn’t been this blond, without artificial stimulants, in a decade and a half. unfortunately half my sun tan washed away in the shower this morning though. i left the ship in a worse state than i joined it, damage having been sustained when 70 mph gusts swept through the town’s wind farm and forced the boat onto its moorings; 30 degrees of heel isn’t comfortable at sea, let alone when tied up. the voyage continues however, across the bight to kangaroo island and adelaide, on to melbourne, tasmania and back, before journey’s end in sydney harbour – pop down if you’re in the area. * who knows when next i’ll be within 10,000 miles of those places? i’m almost homeward bound, a mere handful of trips to the beach ahead of me. david.x