Endeavour: A Garage Sale Changed His Life

Donald Wilson. Image: ANMM.

Donald Wilson. Image: ANMM.

A blog series from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Born in Perth, Donald Wilson did not have a much involvement in maritime pursuits during his childhood. His interests were more of a land-based variety such as tree climbing, scrambling over rocks, ham radio and photography.

When he completed his schooling his interest in ham radios led him into Electronics at WAIT (West Australian Institute of Technology, now Curtin University). However, when he discovered that the course covered a bit more than his areas in interest he dropped out.

By chance, when visiting a friend, a Radiographer at a hospital, Donald’s life took an unexpected turn. His friend, who also had an interest in photography, was passing his images through the X-ray machine and creating images in very sharp contrast. Donald was blown away by the possibilities that the processing of his own images through X-ray would create. Thus it was the possibilities that led him into the world of Radiography, of which he still inhabits.

On many an occasion, whilst out with his family or alone, Donald has been known to be stopped in his tracks by somethings he sees. Whilst considering the various aspects of capturing the image his family continues on not realising that he has paused.

During his professional life as a Radiographer, he would occasionally sail with one of the doctors from the hospital where he worked but that was the sum total of his maritime experience until he went to a garage sale.

His neighbours were downsizing in order to move into a retirement village and as a consequence, they held a garage sale. Donald’s wife wanted to buy the pool table that was for sale and when he went to have a look at the table he noticed a wooden dinghy hiding behind the garage. After talking to his neighbour he decide to buy it as is. Even though it was in need of repair, the beauty of its lines, the planking, the wood all appealed to his aesthetic sense and a major interest in wooden boats began.

This interest in wooden boats led him to where the Endeavour was being built and ultimately to sailing on her from Busselton to Bunbury, where he now lives.

He was unsuccessful in getting a berth on the rather truncated voyage to the 2015 Hobart Wooden Boat Festival so when the 2016 voyages became available all Donald’s ships lined up.

His wife was born in Victoria, so she could take the opportunity to visit family. His son, Samuel, was happy to join him as voyage crew. Also, his daughter and son-in-law live in Sydney, so the Portland to Sydney leg was the obvious choice.

Initially, he found the ship and her workings somewhat daunting but a few days into the voyage he was much more confident. Although Donald found climbing a challenge his childhood tree-climbing skills and his rock climbing in the Kimberleys, in later life, came into play and bested the challenge.

When his ships line up again Donald, no doubt, will be booking another leg on the Endeavour.