MORE than 2000 people have already visited HMB Endeavour, the replica of Captain Cook's famous ship, which is visiting Coffs Harbour.
The ship's captain, Ross Mattson, said 1150 people had visited the ship Saturday and about 1000 visited yesterday.
Captain Mattson said sightseers who boarded the ship were most surprised by how cramped the quarters were for the 94 sailors who used to sail the tall ship and how they had to crouch down to move around below decks.
He said visitors were also impressed by how the Endeavour was laid out as a museum of 18th century sailing, with all the items which would have been used by Captain Cook and his crew.
The feat of being a museum afloat as well as a working sailing ship is achieved by the 21st century crew taking ashore or concealing all the modern safety equipment while the ship is in port and by stowing away or lashing down the historical artefacts aboard while the ship is at sea.
Captain Mattson, who has been the shipmaster and manager for three years, has also clocked up seven years on the Bounty, another Whitby collier, so he has extensive experience at the helm of these historical vessels.
A group of Coffs Coast sailors will leave with the Endeavour when she sails south on her five day voyage to Port Macquarie on Friday.
The sail trainees, who pay for the opportunity to sail a square rigger, as well as the visitors who pay for the opportunity to tour the ship, are what ensures the Endeavour is still able to spread her canvas to the winds.
The ship, part of the outreach program of the National Maritime Museum, has its maintenance costs paid by the Australian government, but not its sailing costs, which must be found elsewhere.
After only just being able to slip into the harbour on a high tide and in early-morning calm, Captain Mattson is keeping his fingers crossed that some extra dredging will enable the Endeavour, her professional crew of 16 and her new crew members to sail out upon the tide on Friday, just as her namesake did.