Here at the museum, the first week of each month is known as Fleet Week. It’s a chance for the Fleet team to take our vessels for a spin, rev-up the engines and get the vessels moving. Essentially it’s an exercise regime for our smaller historic vessels, we don’t want them to turn into couch potatoes (drift wood?) after all!
This week the museum’s pearling lugger John Louis went out on Sydney Harbour. John Louis has been undergoing repairs and maintenance of late and its freshly painted engine chugged along quite nicely.
Built in Broome for pearling, John Louis is one of the last working sail craft built in Australia. In the early 20th century, Australia supplied 75% of the world’s pearl shell. Luggers towed their divers over the pearl beds by drifting, often with just the sail on the after mast set. John Louis collected young pearl shells for the cultured pearl industry which thrived after World War II. Its tank of circulating sea water kept shells alive on the return voyage.
John Louis can be viewed from the museum’s wharves any day and there’s also a detailed info sheet available for download too. (Download PDF, 216kb)