Sailing with the Captain on Father’s Day

On the deck of yacht SIRIUS off Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. ANMM Collection 00014421.

On the deck of yacht Sirius off Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. ANMM Collection 00014421.

This Father’s Day there will no doubt many a father choosing to spend the day on the water. Perhaps on the family boat for a sail around the quiet waters of home, pull in for a bbq at some bay and feel the sense of peace and gratitude that sailing in Australia can bring. Whatever your vessel type, the ease of getting out on the water brings joy to a lot of families.

I often think of family crews when I look at the images in the museum collection of the Nossiter boys and their father Harold. They managed to sail around the world on their yacht SIRIUS from 1935 – 1937. The black and white images show happy days of Harold his sons, Harold Jnr and Richard, sailing through tropical waters, learning new skills and embracing the challenges of life on the ocean.

My own experience of ‘crewing’ for my father was slightly different. We would never have made it on the open ocean. With my two sisters and mother, the four of us represented a somewhat disgruntled crew. Not liking being told what to do as teenagers, we begrudgingly pulled on the ropes our father had to point out to us. We eye rolled when asked to move from our prime sunning position on the bow.

Crew members at rest, likely wondering again what there is to entertain them. Image: Bryant Family.

Crew members at rest, likely wondering again what there is to entertain them. Image: Bryant Family.

On one occasion when a storm chased us up Pittwater my father yelled out instructions to us. It was then my mother decided that raised voices on the boat were not acceptable. She called us girls below muttering something about Captain Bligh. While the storm closed in, the crew refused to come on deck to help my father. We sat in the cabin in blazing indignation until he apologised to us and promised to speak politely.

I am not sure how long after this my father sold the ‘family’ boat. Disheartened and realising he was on the wrong side of a numbers game, he accepted that his role as captain to our crew was a lost cause. Dad still is on the water weekly but aside from the occasional ferry trip, our family has not been out together on a boat since those tense sailing days.

The joy of the captain – before the mutiny took place. Image: Bryant Family.

The joy of the captain – before the mutiny took place. Image: Bryant Family.

And so for all those who spent this Father’s Day on a boat, as the perfect gift, perhaps be kind to the Captain. No mutinies when instructed to pull on a rope or exasperated sighs if told to duck your head. As long as he asks nicely of course.

— Myffanwy Bryant, Curatorial Assistant

View the more of the Harold Nossiter Collection over on our Flickr.

2 thoughts on “Sailing with the Captain on Father’s Day

  1. Your Dad looks like a kindly sort of bloke. I’ve sailed with some absolute tyrants and their style would have almost made me give up sailing forever. Persistence prevailed and many happy voyages are part of my memory bank.
    Love your articles Myff

  2. The flickr collection of Sirius/Nossiter pics is interesting, what captions are accessible for them? Sirius’ circumnavigation is described in about 1000 words in ‘The Amateurs’, produced in 1972 by the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club. I have a copy.

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