Wild Ocean Woman: Kay Cottee’s ‘First Lady’

Steering - by foot - across the Pacific Ocean. ANMM Collection, reproduced courtesy Kay Cottee.

Steering – by foot – across the Pacific Ocean. ANMM Collection, reproduced courtesy Kay Cottee.

Imagine being thrown about in your small yacht surfing down a 20-metre wave. You’re in the Southern Indian Ocean, it’s freezing, you’re exhausted and soaked through. You’re days or weeks from land. You have no GPS. You’re alone.

Continue reading

Celebrations of Easter: From our collection 

Easter in our collection

Easter in our collection

How did you spend your Easter Sunday? Hopefully you won the Easter egg hunt, had a delicious family barbeque or attended an Easter service. Today, we’re looking at several objects in the museum’s collection which explore the variety of ways Australians have celebrated Easter (and the long weekend).

Continue reading

The End of a Watermark: Changes to our Permanent Gallery

Watermarks exhibition gallery, when it opened. Image: ANMM.

Watermarks exhibition gallery, when it opened. Image: ANMM.

The museum is undergoing an exciting change to its permanent galleries. After more than 15 years, on 29 February the Watermarks Gallery set its sails for the last time (pardon the pun). The gallery first opened in 2001 and told the story of how water and the ocean plays a vital role in the lives of all Australians and how the coast has inspired our recreational lives.

Our new permanent gallery exhibition, ULTIMATE DEPTH: James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge, will open in late 2016. Continue reading

Going it alone – Kay Cottee’s voyage aboard Blackmores First Lady

Blackmores First Lady surfing down a wave rounding Cape Horn. Painted by Jack Earl, 1988. ANMM Collection.

Blackmores First Lady surfing down a wave rounding Cape Horn.
Painted by Jack Earl, 1988. ANMM Collection.

“It’s what I do — I do the sea … To people it may seem dangerous, foolish even but, for me, it’s not a strange environment. It’s not alien to me, it’s where I’m happiest.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – (Still solo racing at 75)

Solo celebrating the milestones. Label reads   `Rounding Good Hope. Kay Cottee'.

Solo celebrating the milestones. Label reads `Rounding Good Hope. Kay Cottee’. ANMM Collection.

It has been 28 years now since Kay Cottee set out aboard Blackmores First Lady to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and unassisted. Much has happened and changed in the world of solo sailing in that time. While still attracting those quiet adventurers, solo sailing also attracts big money, big boats and big speed.

Continue reading

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