Scrub the deck! Steer to Port!

These are some of the phrases that were heard on the Polly Woodside ship. Our Year 4s experienced first-hand what it would have been like to live as a crew member or passenger aboard the ship. This experience provided a newfound perspective for our students as they made connections to the voyages of studies of Captain Cook and the First Fleet.

The cabins consisted of eight beds where the sailors slept (the ordinary not-so-important people). The top side beds were the best because sailors didn’t get waves crashing onto their beds, they weren’t knocked around from the rocking ship and other sailors didn’t vomit on them when they were sea sick.

Then, they went to see the onboard toilets. There was no toilet paper so they used a rope and after a week of using the rope, one of the sailors had to wash it. They had to use a scrubbing brush to clean it but those that didn’t want to touch the rope ‘accidentally’ let it go into the water, so they could get a new one.

Next, they climbed up to the bow of the ship to ring the bell. The bell was rung to alert sailors if there was any danger ahead. It was rung once if the danger was on the port side, twice on the starboard side, three times for dead ahead and fifty times if there was a storm!

They went under the deck and saw the places where the cargo was stored, the Captain’s quarters (which were quite elegant and was the only place with a bath) and experienced what it was like to be hanging off the boom at the top of the ship where the sails were. The boom was rocking like it was in a storm.

Their experience as a sailor was made very real when buckets of water were thrown on the deck and the ‘sailors’ had to use brooms to scrub the deck while the ‘first and second mates’ yelled at them.

Lastly, they went to steer the ship with the wheel, which was at the back of the ship because the fin was at the back and it helps steer the whole ship and keep it steady. Two people were needed to steer the ship because the wheel was extremely heavy.

After experiencing life first hand as a sailor aboard the ship, students were exhausted and decided that life as a sailor was not so glamorous. We had a fantastic day on the Polly Woodside ship.

This visit was made extra special as we were informed that we were the first school group to climb aboard the ship since the pandemic.

Adam Black and Rebecca Rudstein