Operation diorama

One of two dioramas created by volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait. Image: Geoff Barnes.  

One of two dioramas created by volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait. Image: Geoff Barnes.

Volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott have once again used their impressive model making skills to create a unique diorama for the Museum, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait.

Building Operation Jaywick in miniature

As a volunteer guide at the Museum, I noticed that Krait would be absent from display for quite some time due it’s extensive restorations. Luckily, an Australian model ship company, Modellers Central, released a laser-cut wooden 1:35 scale model to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the raid. Roger Scott and I proposed an exhibit of Krait in miniature so the Museum could have a ‘Krait’ display in Action Stations even when the real ship was in slip.

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Restoring Krait

<em>Krait</em> on 25 September 2018, with the last few details being worked on ready for the event to mark 75 years since Operation Jaywick. Image: Kate Pentecost/ANMM.

Krait on 25 September 2018, with the last few details being worked on ready for the event to mark 75 years since Operation Jaywick. Image: Kate Pentecost/ANMM.

Commemorating Operation Jaywick

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick, a joint Australian and British raid on Singapore Harbour — one of the most audacious and successful commando operations deep inside enemy territory during World War II. Krait, a former Japanese fishing boat, took three teams of Commandos and their folding canoes to Singapore Harbour. They attached magnetic limpet mines to the hulls of seven ships and fled the anchorage undetected. Early the next morning, six explosions shattered the darkness and six Japanese ships – 35,000 tonnes – were sunk or severely damaged. It was a significant blow to Japanese confidence and morale.

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SY ENA : steaming towards the next chapter

SY Ena, the museum’s glamorous guest and visiting vessel from February to June this year has moved on, and without too much fuss has arrived on Port Phillip in Victoria. 20 years on from the book ‘SY Ena: Aurore, HMAS Sleuth’ by Alan Deans, a new chapter is now ready to write – and the prologue is how it got there.

SY ENA coasts into Docklands, Melbourne. Photo by Jeff Malley

SY ENA coasts into Docklands, Melbourne. Photo by Jeff Malley

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ENA and the Dibbs family

Ena on Sydney Harbour

Ena on Sydney Harbour
Photo: Andrew Frolows, ANMM

Late March and with the rain coming down in Sydney, the luxurious SY Ena played host to descendants of its original owner from 1900, Sir Thomas Dibbs. Fourteen relatives gathered in the museum foyer and then went down to see their patriarch’s pride and joy, fresh from a trial steaming on the Friday and eager to get out again. Also on board were two engineers from Melbourne familiarizing themselves with the engine, and everyone including the owner were, in one way or another, discovering more about the yacht.

The Dibbs family aboard Ena

The Dibbs family aboard Ena
Photo: David Payne, ANMM

The family members attending spanned many generations, headed by 96 year old Elizabeth Cadden who came with an embroidered table cloth from the boat while her son Andrew held a plate embossed with Ena and RSYS, for the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, small mementos from what had once been in their family. Scurrying around and playing make believe games were the youngest generation, Olivia, Imogen and Ella, free to make much more noise than was probably the case for their age when great, great grandfather was in charge. It was also a wonderful social get together for the families, catching up on news as they sat and talked together or roamed around the decks and cabins, taking in the splendid restoration. Continue reading

MYRA TOO takes shape

As a novice to the art of boatbuilding, I was recently lucky enough to get a lesson from one of the masters.

Bob McLeod is taking part in a project to build a replica of the champion 18 foot skiff MYRA TOO, and he was kind enough to show me the ropes and patiently answer my questions when I visited his workshop several weeks ago.

MYRA TOO emblem displayed on the wall of Bob McLeod’s workshop. Photo Penny Hyde 2013

MYRA TOO emblem displayed on the wall of Bob McLeod’s workshop. Photo Penny Hyde 2013

The project is supported by the Australian Open Skiff Trust which aims to build replicas of significant boats from the period up to and including 1950. MYRA TOO was built at the cusp, in 1950, and raced in 1951 where the vessel was the State, National and World Champion 18 footer. MYRA TOO was designed, built and raced by legendary boat builder Billy Barnett, from Berrys Bay, Sydney.

Bob is building the replica with the assistance of Australian National Maritime Museum curator David Payne who supplied advice and drew up the initial plans in his spare time, as the originals were lost in a fire. I wrote about the beginnings of this project in an earlier blog.

Copy of the MYRA TOO replica’s plans signed by ANMM Curator David Payne and the vessel’s original designer Billy Barnett. Photo by Penny Hyde 2013

Copy of the MYRA TOO replica’s plans signed by ANMM Curator David Payne and the vessel’s original designer Billy Barnett. Photo by Penny Hyde 2013

Bob showed me around the workshop he has built specifically for the project and talked me through the process of the build. (I hope my notes are correct – forgive me Bob if not!) Using David’s plans and then a wooden half-model based on those lines, Bob drew the outline for the wooden pieces that will make the ‘mould’ around which he will build the boat. He traced the mould outlines onto mylar and cut to plan the pieces of wood for each mould frame. When I visited Bob had already placed the silver ash keel across the base and was preparing to add the silver ash stringers, and finally the frames which he will steam bend before attaching. He will then be able to glue on three thin layers or ‘skins’ to the frames to complete the hull, the second of plywood and the first and third (the outer layer) of Queensland red cedar which will make for a beautiful finish. Continue reading

Cooktown: The museum heads north for a week

It’s hot. And humid. But what else can you expect for far north Queensland in December? And it could have been worse – however, the southest trades were blowing across the hills on the coast, providing a margin of comfort across the town.

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Cooktown from Grassy Hill, looking to the south west in the evening

Everyone drives a 4WD, but I was on foot, and in Cooktown to undertake a museum outreach project funded through a grant from the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS). My goal was to document and write a management plan for May-Belle, an iron flood boat and ferry from the gold-rush era of the late 1800s, and part of the James Cook Museum collection, expertly managed by Melanie Piddocke.

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May Belle being measured

The real heat was on the Tuesday – with six hours spent in the tin shed annexe where the boat was stored, often down on hands and knees, or lying under the vessel. It was dusty, dirty and over 30 degrees even with the shutter doors open. Plenty of fluids kept things under control and by early afternoon, after an 8 am start, I had enough data recorded to retire to an air-conditioned room and draw out the elements from the dimensions taken, then give it a check. All good at the end the day, and dinner that night with Melanie and former council administrator Darcy Gallop, who retrieved the vessel in 1973, brought out some stories about the social side of the craft, which is now on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels, along with its close sisters up in Coen, even further north.

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Cherry Tree Bay at 6 am

On Wednesday I began writing the report, putting together a comprehensive management plan about the vessel’s history, construction, current condition and how best to conserve, interpret and display the vessel. At lunch Melanie and I met Ian McRae from the regional council, who had overseen putting the Coen boat up for nomination. Ian is a keen supporter of heritage in the area and was about to let the Coen people know their craft had been recognised.

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An indigenous outrigger canoe made in 2010

For Thursday Melanie had kindly organised a meeting with the Indigenous community in Hope Vale, 45 minutes inland. This is the successor to Hope Valley, formerly on Cape Bedford, which had been forcibly abandoned during World War 2. This incident is not well recognised and is one of a series of sad events that have overrun the Guugu Yimithirr community since the goldrush of the 1870s ‒ the event that brought the flood boats into being.

At Hope Vale I discussed the museum’s work and the experience of the conference Nawi – exploring Australia’s Indigenous watercraft, plus my own particular involvement with building nawi, and heard from them what they knew of their own outriggers. These are hollowed-out logs with a hunting platform at one end, and a single outrigger. Willie Gordon, a well-respected community member and acclaimed leader of tours into his country, was particularly interested. Later in the day renowned local artist Roy McIvor and his wife, Thelma, came by the museum to meet us, hear about the ANMM work and talk about their story too. It was a wonderful exchange, and if the ANMM can host another conference in the future we look forward to inviting more representatives from the Cooktown and Hope Vale area.

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Endeavour river Cooktown, the site where Endeavour was beached for repairs.

As well as the work side there was time early in the mornings and late evenings to walk the coastline bush track, or take in the view from Grassy Hill, where James Cook had stood assessing his situation as Endeavour was being repaired on the shoreline below him in 1770. The James Cook Museum display talks about the community’s stories about this event, too; by 1770 they were accustomed to foreign ships, as Macassan traders been coming for trochus and beche-de-mer for probably 100 years or more before. The Macassans came and went, however, but this visitor in his big canoe did not just come and go in a short time, he stayed for a long time, but did manage to make contact. Both sides of the community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, recognise the importance of this event. Two key artefacts reside in the museum, the anchor Endeavour lost and one of the cannon jettisoned to make the ship lighter. Through the dry season many tourists come to Cooktown to see these and learn more about the event that dramatically affected this community.

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Endeavour anchor and cannon on display at James Cook Museum

Endeavour celebrates 18 years

Today Endeavour celebrates her 18th birthday. And where else should we celebrate such a milstone? Fremantle of course! Fremantle being the place where the Endeavour replica was built and launched. To acknowledge this celebration, we’ve put together a short slideshow of Endeavour from the past 18 years.

We hope you enjoy!