THE BITTER END
The bitter end might refer to the inevitable conclusion to a difficult and sustained task taken to the limit of one's efforts. However, as I discovered during my association with the MV Cape Don, it has a nautical derivation: A bit is a post fastened in the deck of a ship, for fastening cables and ropes. When a rope is played out to the bitter end, it means there is no more rope to be used.
Sketching onboard the Cape Don has been quite an education for me, acquiring new terminology: riding chock, windlass, hawse pipe, fo'c's'le, sacrificial anodes, weighing anchor, and learning about their essential functions in the limited environment of a seafaring vessel.
The "end" for this heroic working ship might well have been bitter. It was the first-built, and now the only surviving vessel, of the three Cape class ships commissioned at the NSW State Dockyard in Newcastle for the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service to service the many navigational aids and support the manned lighthouses around the Australian coastline. Instead, it is being restored by volunteers of the Cape Don Society and is presently moored at North Sydney Council's Centre for Sustainability. It is hoped that there will be access for the general public in the near future. It will be a fine addition to the maritime history of Sydney Harbour and a point of interest at the Coal Loader site.