Mermaid Project Update

Soft corals on the wreck of the Merchant off Sudbury Reef, Queensland.

Due to the sea conditions on the HMCS Mermaid site on Flora Reef the ANMM / Silentworld expedition vessels have moved to the western side of Sudbury Reef.

Whilst at Sudbury the ANMM / Silentworld team have carried out a series of inspections on the wreck of the Merchant on the northern side of the reef and the Deodorus on the western side – between Stagg Patches and Sudbury Reef.

The Merchant was a 1059 ton, American built, three masted, wooden barque 167.1 feet long, with a beam of 36.2 and a depth in the hold 23.2 feet. Whilst en route from Mossman River, Qld to Melbourne with a cargo of timber the vessel ran on to a reef near Brook Island then put into Cardwell for repair. The vessel left again on the 5 March 1878 and was not seen again. Wreckage was found along the northern Queensland coast between Cardwell and Port Douglas. The remains of the vessel were later found off Sudbury Reef.

The site today consist’s of a very large bluestone ballast mound, bilge pumps, a capstan, anchor chain and the timber remains of the lower hull. The wrecksite has also become the home for thousands of softcorals.

Depending upon weather conditions the team may split with one vessel staying on station at Flora Reef with Spoilsport  heading 100 miles north up to Endeavour Reef to inspect the stranding site of HMB Endeavour in 1770.

This entry was posted in Maritime Archaeology, Mermaid Project 2009, Uncategorized by Kieran Hosty. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kieran Hosty

I started diving in Western Australia in 1976 and after a few years of mucking around on shipwrecks joined the Maritime Archaeological Association of Western Australia in order to try and make sense of what I saw on the seabed. My love of diving and maritime history made me pursue a graduate degree in history and anthropology from the Western Australian Institute of Technology followed a few years later by a post graduate diploma in maritime archaeology from Curtin University also in Western Australia. After 18 months as an archaeological field volunteer I took up a position with the Maritime Archaeology Unit at the Victoria Archaeological Survey. I was the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Officer in Victoria for six years before coming to the Australian National Maritime Museum in 1994 to take up the position of Curator of Maritime Archaeology and Ship Technology. At the Museum I was responsible for the Museum’s maritime archaeology program as well as curating the Museum’s collection relating to convicts, 19th century migrants and ship technology. My expertise in convict related material was further enhanced, when I took up a temporary position as Curator / Manager of Hyde Park Barracks Museum for eighteen months in 2004 followed by a further 18 month contract at the Barracks where I curated an exhibition on the history and archaeology of convict hulks and another on the World Heritage listing of Australian convict sites. In 2012 my role at the Museum shifted focus when I became the Manager – Maritime Archaeology Program – reflecting an increased emphasis on the importance of the maritime archaeology program at the Museum. I have worked on many maritime archaeological projects both in Australia and overseas including the survey and excavation of the Sydney Cove (1797), HMS Pandora (1791) and HMCS Mermaid (1829), the Coral Sea Shipwrecks Project (sponsored by the SiILENTWORLD FOUNDATION and the ARC) and the hunt for Cook’s Endeavour in the USA. I'm the author of the book Dunbar 1857: Disaster on our doorstep, published by the Museum along with two books on Australian convicts and 19th century migrants published by McMillan.

5 thoughts on “Mermaid Project Update

  1. More maritime archaeological adventures for you all.I wish you well if you do follow the planned split.It has been interesting to be a minor celebrity in the Bega Valley as the local paper had our story on the front page on Friday.People are stopping me at my favourite swimming site,Kianinny Bay(yes I have been snorkelling daily minus a wetsuit!) and at our local shops wanting to talk and also to pass on congratulations to Megan and Alice.
    I have heard from Bill already .
    I assume that the next step for the Mermaid project will be planning/curating an exhibition featuring the historic items you retieved.?
    I am really looking forward to visiting the museum early this year for the Beagle /Darwin exhibition.
    I have started a search for the history of the name Mermaid and also for the words of The Forsaken Merman .

  2. The full story of the HMC (HMCS) Mermaid has been fully researched and since 2001 we have been working on the construction of a replica of the Cutter Mermaid…

    Drop me a line if I can help with your research.

    I have sent through to the ANMM Director a copy of a watercolour of the HMC Mermaid under full sail..

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  4. I am interested in joining a team to build a replica of HMCS Mermaid. And then reinact the voyages of Philip Parker King. I have some form in this area and some good friends who are interested to assist.

    Jeff Gordon

  5. I am interested to become part of a team to build a replica of HM Cutter Mermaid and reinact Philip Parker King’s voyages. I would like to discuss this concept with the ANMM as to the feasibility of such a project.

    Jeff Gordon

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