Crossing the bar

Crossing the bar means many things to many people. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s beautiful poem always makes me cry with its promise and its farewell.

A  bar crossing can be the start of an adventure or the finish, where safe harbour and family and friends beckon. It can be a treacherous bar, with currents and eddies ready to snare the unwary, or a glassy calm mirror with only welcome in its waters. Whatever its meaning,  today we made our first crossing in Roo Bin Esque.

The Wide Bay Bar at the bottom of Fraser Island has a reputation as being irascible and occasionally petulant so we set off at 5 am from our mooring at Mooloolaba and headed north to catch the afternoon high tide. Sunrise didn’t disappoint.

With following winds we made good speed up past the Sunshine Coast and the Tewantin Coloured Sands. I found time to write, (and perhaps have a nap or two – bobbing along in Roo is very soothing.) GW kept interrupting as we finally had dolphins pay us a visit, a boat manage to be on opposite tack and hell bent on holding his course, and of course the scenery kept needing attention.

But eventually we arrived at the start of the crossing. With lifejackets on, including Zeus, hatches all battened down, sails stowed and motors at the ready we began our crossing.

Roo Bin Esque is a stately kind of vessel. She reminds me of a well corseted matron in full flight with her chin up, but with a sexy little wiggle and a twinkle in her eye. (In fact she reminds me of one friend’s mother in particular!!) She steamed through the bar with nary a flutter of her eyelids and forty minutes later we sailed peacefully into the Sandy Straits. It was almost an anticlimax except that, like so many things on this voyage, it was our first crossing, our first test of vessel and sailors. Zeus passed with flying colours as did Roo.

Today’s crossing was the continuation of our journey, the promise of tomorrow, another step in our adventure. We’ll have many more bars to cross, metaphorical and actual, and no doubt some of those will be hairy, exhilarating and treacherous. For now we’ve ticked that box. It’s dinner time and GW’s on duty. Left overs are on the menu.

Mother Nature provided another beautiful end to the day.

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21 thoughts on “Crossing the bar

  1. Cathy, that’s another beautiful poem by John Masefield. So evocative.

    We read the Crossing of the Bar at my dad’s funeral as well. As an old marine engineer it was one of his favourites.

  2. I took a walk along a path that led me to the sea,
    In a haven moored with lines of gold a ship awaited me.
    I boarded her with gladness, for though I knew her not,
    She greeted me as one well known who’d tarried far along a road,
    A road too far from home.

    We sailed to sea my ship and me,
    Through waters grim and fair,
    We held our course though oft the way
    Was clouded, darkness everywhere.

    At times the fickle waves sought to sunder my ship from me,
    But she held true, her prow held high
    And weathered the storms with me.

    The seas of life can batter,
    The seas of life can calm,
    But no matter where or what they be
    We hold together
    My ship and Me.

  3. This is my favorite

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

  4. I thought I should post the poem I was thinking of when I wrote the post.

    Crossing the Bar – Alfred Lord Tennyson

    Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea,

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

    For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

  5. Anna and Cathy, thank you both for sharing such wonderful poems. Early seafarers must have been amazing men.

    As I steer Roo Bin Esque via an auto helm linked to a plotter showing our track, while I listen to the latest weather update, I am in awe of men who put to sea in vessels not much bigger than ours with nothing but the star and sun to guide them. Heroes every one of them.

  6. OUR brows are bound with spindrift and the weed is on our knees;
    Our loins are battered ’neath us by the swinging, smoking seas.
    From reef and rock and skerry—over headland, ness, and voe—
    The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!

    Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors;
    Through the yelling Channel tempest when the siren hoots and roars—
    By day the dipping house-flag and by night the rocket’s trail—
    As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.

    We bridge across the dark and bid the helmsman have a care,
    The flash that wheeling inland wakes his sleeping wife to prayer;
    From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains
    The lover from the sea-rim drawn—his love in English lanes.

    We greet the clippers wing-and-wing that race the Southern wool;
    We warn the crawling cargo-tanks of Bremen, Leith, and Hull;
    To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea—
    The white wall-sided war-ships or the whalers of Dundee!

    Come up, come in from Eastward, from the guardports of the Morn!
    Beat up, beat in from Southerly, O gipsies of the Horn!
    Swift shuttles of an Empire’s loom that weave us, main to main,
    The Coastwise Lights of England give you welcome back again!

    Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates;
    Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights!
    Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek,
    The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak!

  7. Lovely photos, Helene! Love that Tennyson poem. Just finished WHEN MAIDENS MOURN by C.S. Harris in which he’s a character! Actually another Tennyson poem which I love but which I hope has no relationship at all with your briny adventures is Break, Break, Break. Do you know it?

    Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
    And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

    O well for the fisherman’s boy,
    That he shouts for his sister at play!
    O well for the sailor lad,
    that he sings in his boat on the bay!

    And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
    But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

    Break, break, break
    At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

  8. I didn’t think we were going to have any colour tonight but then suddenly the sky went orange and pink, Brenda.

    My serious writer pose was a ‘What are you doing now?’ look as GW snapped away with the camera. His revenge was to take a photo later of me asleep… sigh…

  9. Helene, your day sounds wonderful. Thanks for the gorgeous photos and letting us share the experience.

  10. Unbelievable sunset once again Helene. Congratulations on your first bar crossing too! Glad the nerves were put to rest 😉 I love the serious “writer pose” photo of you as well 🙂 Good to see!

  11. Thanks, Bree, so far with such gorgeous weather I have no complaints! I’m sure we’ll have rain and dramas to come, but for now it’s perfect!

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