Identifying the cannons from HMS Bounty

The fourth cannon from HMS Bounty?

A few days ago a Scottish newspaper ran a story about an upcoming auction of a cannon from HMS Bounty set to make £500,000. According to the article, the cannon was gifted by JR McCoy (the Pitcairn Island President) to a British sea captain who stopped at Pitcairn Island in 1898 and it subsequently made its way to Scotland. The article included three pictures showing a badly corroded gun missing its trunnions and cascable but with some surviving details of reinforce rings and the touch hole.

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Finding ‘Hope’ with a magnetometer: Kenn Reefs expedition, days 6 and 7

Pete Illidge and Renee Malliaros prove that site mapping and synchronised swimming are not mutually exclusive tasks. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

Pete Illidge and Renee Malliaros prove that site mapping and synchronised swimming are not mutually exclusive tasks. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

One of the major goals of the Kenn Reefs expedition was to find Hope, the small cutter built from material salvaged from Bona Vista, and later lost during the rescue of the brig’s crew. According to historical accounts, two boats were sent from the rescuing vessel (the ship Asia) to Observatory Cay, where they recovered most of Bona Vista’s crew, the brig’s allocation of specie (gold and silver coin brought aboard Bona Vista for trading purposes), and brought them aboard Asia. A skeleton crew of thirteen and the personal belongings of all of the brig’s officers and men remained aboard Hope, as did unspecified salvaged goods valued at £1,000. However, as Asia got underway and took Hope under tow, tragedy struck:

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Ashmore Reef Expedition 2015 – Part Five

Overnight, the wind from the north-west has abated a little and the swell on the northern exposed edge of Ashmore Reef, where the wreck site is located, has decreased. This allowed us to get dive teams on-site nice and early to take advantage of the calmer seas.

Led by Michael Gooding (Silentworld Foundation), Lee Graham (Australian National Maritime Museum) and Grant Luckman (Department of Environment) the dive teams have continued to plot the scattered remains of the shipwreck by carrying out additional 100 metre-long compass and tape transit surveys from the two main anchor clusters.

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Eden to Sydney voyage, day 5

Friday 7 November 2014, 1500 hours

Distance over ground since 1800 Thursday: 60 nautical miles

The HMB Endeavour replica is now back alongside her usual berth at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, concluding the Eden voyages.

Both voyages involved some exciting sailing, some stunning days at sea and the chance to see wildlife including whales and seabirds.

Endeavour sails. Image: EAP.

Endeavour under sail. Image: EAP.

As with the last time we returned to the Museum at the end of a period of voyaging, I’d like to end this series of blog posts with a mention of the family groups on board this trip.

As topman of mizzenmast watch this voyage, there were no less than three family groups in my watch. Couple John and Lesley Rowe were both supernumeraries, while Emily Devine and father Michael were voyage crew in mizzenmast watch. Michael has been on Endeavour before and came back for another voyage with Emily as a present for Emily’s birthday.

My father Jim Macbeth came along as voyage crew, making us the third family group in mizzenmast watch. Several other voyage crew wondered how a parent would go ‘taking orders’ from a daughter, but we managed remarkably well and had a good time!

Father and daughter team Michael and Emily Devine. Image EAP.

Father and daughter team Michael and Emily Devine. Image EAP.

As I mentioned in the blog last time we had a number of family groups on board, it can be a very special experience not only for the families themselves but for others in the watch and on the voyage.

As Jim said: ‘The camaraderie is growing every day as the crew get to know each other and through sharing good, but often challenging, experiences. Sharing an adventure does bring people together, giving us all a sense of friendship and good will.’


Cannon fire on our last night at sea. Image: EAP.

This camaraderie was certainly in evidence during our last night at sea on the Eden to Sydney voyage. Everyone was in high spirits and keen to make the most of the experience. This voyage has been a little unusual in that we’ve been at sea every night – there were no nights at anchor.

At 2000 hours, the portside cannon was fired. It was just after dark and, as always, the explosion created by lighting the charge was a spectacular sight.

Mizzenmast watch had the morning watch (0400-0800) and we emerged on deck at 0400 into brilliant moonlight – so bright it seemed that dawn had arrived early. When dawn really did come, it was with a soft orange in the eastern sky, opposite the final light of the moon setting in the west.

Meanwhile, to our northwest the loom of Sydney had been visible for some time, and with the dawn we were able to see Botany Bay as we passed.

A large cargo ship emerged from the port of Botany as we approached, passing around 1.5 nautical miles ahead of us. 1.5 nautical miles sounds like a long way, but at sea it seems extremely close to a ship of that size!

Image: EAP.

Furling sails  in preparation for arriving in Sydney. Image: EAP.

This morning was busy as the whole crew got to work furling the remaining sails (furling involves rolling the sail up tightly and lashing it firmly with lines called gaskets so that the sail cannot flog in the wind or fill up with rainwater). Some sails had been furled the previous evening but the bulk of the work still remained.

On the calm seas and in the bright sunshine, most of the voyage crew were keen to go aloft and it was a good opportunity to put ‘harbour furls’ in all the sails. ‘Harbour furls’ refer to furls that are neat and tidy, ready for the ship to look presentable alongside the wharf – in contrast to storm furls, when the aim is to get the sail in as quickly as possible, with no time for presentation!

Once the sails were furled and the ship neat and tidy, we proceeded through the heads into Sydney Harbour just after lunch. Once again, I was sad to say goodbye to the voyage crew in Darling Harbour – it has been a wonderful few days.

As always, the ship herself attracts many people to come and sail – but it is these same people who give life to the experience of sailing a 19th century replica.

Captain Dikkenberg brings Endeavour into Sydney Harbour this afternoon. Image: EAP.

Captain Dikkenberg brings Endeavour into Sydney Harbour this afternoon. Image: EAP.

Endeavour’s next adventure on the high seas will be a series of three voyages, beginning in late January 2015. We will be sailing from Sydney to Hobart for the Wooden Boat Festival in early February, then undertaking a ten-day convict history voyage departing from and returning to Hobart, before the return voyage from Hobart to Sydney. The ship will be away from Sydney for six weeks and there are places available for voyage crew and supernumeraries.

Until next time Endeavour goes to sea, fair winds!

Suzannah Marshall Macbeth           

Blasting the Zeewijk Cannon, Conservation in action

Ok, so we didn’t blast the cannon in the conventional sense, but stabilising a 289yr old cannon was almost as satisfying!

In June 1727, a Dutch East India Trading Company ship, the Zeewijk, was headed for Batavia (Jakarta) when it wrecked off the coast of Western Australia. The survivors made it to Gun Island and were able to salvage chests of coins and other cargo but could not float the ship. In July 1727, a longboat with 11 survivors was sent for help, never to be heard from again.

The remaining survivors were able to use salvaged materials from the Zeewijk and local mangrove timbers to construct a new ship, the Sloepie. It was in the Sloepie that the remaining 88 crew members set sail, yet only 82, of the original 208 people, made it to Batavia. It is believed that the Sloepie represents the first European-style ship constructed in Australia and with Australian timber.

In 1840 those aboard the HMS Beagle discovered relics at the camp site, and further relics were discovered during guano mining in the 1880s and 1890s. Over the years, many more objects were found until the Western Australian Maritime Museum conducted a series of expeditions on the wreck site from 1976 .

One cannon from the Zeewijk wrecksite was treated by the Western Australian Maritime Museum using electrolysis, and was later allocated to the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Zeewijk Cannon displaying active corrosion.

The Zeewijk Cannon displaying active corrosion.

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Ferguson Reef archaeology expedition – Monday 25 March

Over the last few days the weather conditions on site have started to deteriorate as as the effects of a new monsoonal trough comes into play.

Photo of

Peter Illidge with charts.

With a substantial surf breaking over the southern and eastern edges of Ferguson Reef and with limited space in the boats we decided to send only single teams of snorkelers onto the reef-top searching for the magnetometer hits that John and Frits had detected on the previous day. Continue reading

International Talk Like Pirate Day story – Survivin’ scurvy on the seven seas

Ahoy me hearties!

To celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Wednesday 19 September) we set our Facebook followers a challenge, to write a pirate story that old Black Beard himself would be proud of. And our followers did not disappoint, with an imaginative and hilarious (yo-ho-ho) interpretation of all things pirate (and even some things that are not)!

Read below for the full collection of Facebook posts to see how the story unfolded.

Chapter one: A pirate without a name and the Pink Oyster

Uniformed man on deck of ship

Illustration from sheet music cover ‘The Red Rover’s Song’. Lithographer William Endicott & Co. c 1859. ANMM Collection

It was a blustery day on th’ high seven seas ‘n our protagonist captain told his scurvy crew “set the sails, we have only five days ’til we reach th’ treasure before them scurvy pirate wenches on th’ Pink Oyster! We have to get that treasure first!”.The crew leapt to the ropes and riggings. Captain Albatross was a firm but fair leader and he made sure everything on board the Golden Venture was errr shipshape!

The pirating game was a cutthroat business and Albatross had seen many a sloppily run ship fail when things got serious. He knew he had one of the best ships around and his crew agreed.

The sailing was smooth for Albatross and the crew, ’twas soon nightfall and they were developing a thirst for whiskey and wenches. As Albatross got up to call the first mate, a wail bellowed over the decks of the ship, “arrrrrrrgggghhhhhh!” It was Albatross, fallen on the deck. “Me leg, me scurvy dog of a peg leg! It still be on the land. Arrrggghhhh!” The crew fell silent. They had travelled so far on their first day of sailing, dare they turn back for the captains’ leg?

“Aarrrr, Next time, no Pirate ship from Ikea” bellowed one of the crew, who had clearly been on ye ol’ grog since morning!

Just then Billy the cabin boy spoke up. “Arrrr, Captain, I been whittling you a new leg. It was fer yer birthday, see. But as it’s an emergency, you could have it now” He handed over a leg carved with ferocious sea beasties and mer people. “Look, it even flips open to hide stuff in”. It even has a place for your beer and a long straw. Thou u shan’t b drinkin whilst u drivin dis here boat now.

Chapter two: The missing peg leg, a battle at sea and the Allen key

Two ships batte on the rough seas

Photograph by Samuel J Hood of a painting by G. F. Gregory depicting three sailing ships in battle. ANMM collection

“Me leg, me scurvy dog of a peg leg! Me only half a pirate not worthy of the Golden Venture without me leg,” said Captain Albatross of the Golden Venture, hopping on one foot. Billy the cabin boy stepped forward with a gift, “Arrrr, Captain, I been whittling you a new leg. It was fer yer birthday, see. But as it’s an emergency, you could have it now”. Captain Albatross beamed with a pirate’s glee and made use of the peg leg’s hidden compartment to stow away his treasure map and Ikea Allen key. There was a change in the wind which brought an almighty storm and the Pink Oyster, whose pirate wenches were ready for battle ensued a bloody war.The Pink Oyster wenches were led by one Poxy Polly – a buxsom girl of generous portions, with a mass of flaming red hair.

She ruled them with belaying pin in one hand an’ cutlass in the other and was feared by one and all.

There was only one regret in Poxy Polly’s life, that she had once given her heart to a man of the sea only for him to leave her. On that day she swore that there would come a day when she would get even with him. And, as she watched Golden Venture sail into sight, she knew that today was that day.

Albatross looked out on the rising seas lashing the Golden Venture. In the distance, he could see the Pink Oyster steering carefully through the waves. As the sunlight peeked through the clouds, he saw a glimmer of red from the deck of the Pink Oyster. “Shiver me timberrrs…” he grumbled. At this moment, first mate Sjörövare yelled, “out with your Allen keys, maties. Assemble the cannons”.

The Allen keys were whipped out, but a short delay followed while the crew coordinated themselves, deciding which language to use for the task. Albatross, meanwhile, stood stunned on the quarterdeck. Across the waves, drawing ever nearer, Poxy Polly hefted her cutlass. “I’ll cut yer other leg off, ye miserable ladies’ idiot feel sorry for me, an’ give ye something real t’ cry about”, she muttered. Her first mate was passing around chocolate to bolster the courage of the crew of the Oyster.

Chapter three: Eyes of lost lovers locked and an unexpected pit stop

Ship run aground on an island beach

‘Cygnet careened’ Etching by Geoffrey Chapman Ingleton (1908 – 1998). ANMM Collection

In the stormy battle between the mighty Golden Venture and the Pink Oyster, Ikea Allen keys a plenty assembling Swedish made cannons, time stood still as Captain Albatross and Poxy Polly locked eyes mid cutlass swing. “Avast! It cannot be…” Captain Albatross gasped. Visions rushed before his sunburnt eyes of a time long gone that were full of love shanties and a beautiful woman named Polly. “That’s right you miserable scurvy dog! It is I Poxy Polly, here to seek my revenge and take back what’s rightfully mine. Hand over the treasure map and the golden Allen key!” And with that, caught unaware, both ships ran aground, busted on reef and rocks surrounding an uncharted tropical island…Polly shoved Albatross off her and jumped up from the sand, where they’d been flung by the impact of the hulls on the rocks. She frowned at the unfamiliar island then levelled her cutlass at Albatross, only to find a pistol pointing to her nose. “Arrrgh,” she growled. Her cutlass dropped to the ground…but in a flash she ducked, wrenched the gun from Albatross and retrieved her weapon. She swung back to face him just in time to avoid his wooden leg…

On the deck of the Venture, the Poxy’s first mate was trying to plunder the Captain’s cabin. “ye’ll need an allen key for that,” Sjorovare smirked. “If ye get that map,” growled the first mate, Toebiter Tanless, “we can have the treasure without those two and take the ships for ourselves…”

And then ….. they heard a man cry “WILLLSSOONNNNNN!”

“WILLLSSOONNNNNN, WILLLSSOONNNNNN” called Ratus the Bilage Rat. Grumbling to himself he looked for his friend Willson th’ parrot. Willson had seen what was about to happen and taken safely to the air just in time. Ratus had never really wanted to be a Bilage Rat but it had been a family tradition passed on down from father to son. He had always dreamed of being a Rock star singing sea shanty’s in the Local Tavern.

Chapter four: A rat-parrot bromance, a mysterious survivor, a love (Bermuda) triangle and a fight to the finish for the island’s treasure!

Man with cane posing

Image of David Ashworth, survivor of the shipwrecked General Grant. ANMM Collection

Seeing a mutiny on their hands, Wilson signalled to Ratus that Captain Albatross’ ship was about to be ransacked by the crew. Little did Sjorovare and Toebiter Tanless know that the Allen key and treasure map was safely stowed in the Captain’s pegleg. Suddenly leaping forth from the island’s thick jungle, came a man dressed all in skins! Polly and the Captain froze in recognition, at the old rival for Polly’s love – a pirate thought long lost and gone in a doomed expedition for gold!Galloping Godfrey froze, as he took in the spectacle before him. In a voice cracking and squeaking from disuse he asked “what in blazing cannons is going on here?” Polly and Albatross both answered simultaneously “we’re looking for your treasure”. Godfrey leant over wheezing with laughter.

“Arrrh! And ye all be fools to seek for Treasure. For seven years I sailed the seven seas and of treasure I did seek. But the only treasure I ever did find was the love of a good woman here before me which I lost to the arms of another man”.

Wilson and Ratus caught sight of the old man and, as one, launched themselves at his toothless face, at the one who stole their most prized possessions. Still laughing, Godfrey toppled to the sand, something shining falling from his pocket. “He’s nuts” exclaimed Albatross. “No – the nuts….where’s that golden Allen key???” said Polly.


Portrait photo of a lady

Untitled (Portrait of a woman). James Hall (1877-1951). ANMM Collection

A stiff breeze in the sails and a stiff drink in leg! Before too long Captain Albatross, his crew of miscreants and the jolly wenches of the Pink Oyster had decided to hunt for treasure together and start their new joint venture with a party. The swing of the party matched the pitch and toss of the surf. All was going swimmingly until Cap Albatross repeated a commonly used motif and stumbled into the arms of a buxom Pink Oyster Wench. Looking up with wiley gratitude in his eyes he asked “what’s your name….?” So the moral to our story be, should you ever go to sea, kiss goodbye the love of your life and don’t forget to pack a spare Allen Key!Thanks to our contributors: Natasha Coster, Vanessa Hill, Brendan O’Neill, Karen Charge, Jenny Baker, Nicholas Brocklebank, Rebecca Hackett and Jenny Drenkhahn.

For all those little pirates out there, you too can get into the pirate spirit at our Pirates! Children’s Adventure Land that opens on 22 September! Cut loose your cutlass and start practicing ya’ arrrrs!