24 years ago today…

Blackmores First Lady
ANMM Collection
Photographer Andrew Frolows, ANMM

It’s been 24 years since Australian long-distance sailor, Kay Cottee, returned from her record breaking 189-day solo circumnavigation of the globe in her yacht, Blackmores First Lady. She was the first woman to circumnavigate the world alone and unassisted.

The voyage spanned 6 months, with Blackmores First Lady departing Sydney on 29 November 1987 and returning on 5 June 1988. As Cottee crossed the line inside the harbour marking the completion of the voyage, she was greeted by a flotilla of vessels with cheers from crowds who had come out to welcome her home.

In the following year, Cottee wrote a book about her adventure, First Lady: A history making solo voyage around the world (MacMillan, 1989). Cottee was recognised for her achievement when she was named Australian of the Year early in 1989 and later awarded an Order of Australia.

In 2000, the yacht was acquired by the Australian National Maritime Museum as part of the National Maritime Collection. Along with the yacht, the museum acquired hundreds of objects from the journey and many of these are displayed along with facsimiles and replicas in the Watermarks – Adventure, sport & play.

Nicole Cama
Curatorial assistant

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