Who was John Watt?

<em>'Daisy, I am sending the basket tomorrow. Bill'.</em> Despite the atmospheric picture, the message on the back of this card from the Watt collection is short. For years 'Daisy' and 'Bill' were strangers to the museum. ANMM Collection ANMS0410[048].

‘Daisy, I am sending the basket tomorrow. Bill’. Despite the atmospheric picture, the message on the back of this postcard from the Watt collection is short. For years ‘Daisy’ and ‘Bill’ were strangers to the museum. ANMM Collection ANMS0410[048].

An enigmatic collector

Over the years, the museum has acquired various collections that have taken the dedicated owner many years (or often a lifetime) to compile. The time, energy and cost required to gather together this type of comprehensive material can be enormous and so part of the unseen value of these collections is the story of the donor themselves.

In 1993, a collection of hundreds of photographs, drawings, postcards, papers and memorabilia featuring and related to ships was donated to the museum. It was clearly a collection that had taken a lifetime to accumulate by a dedicated and passionate individual. We were given the name Mr John Watt of McLean, New South Wales, as the collector.

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Little shipmates: Seafaring pets

Portrait of a baby and a dog on a ship. Image: Samuel Hood / ANMM Collection 00023789.

Portrait of a baby and a dog on a ship. Image: Samuel Hood / ANMM Collection 00023789.

Cats, dogs, monkeys and birds have been cherished on board ships for as long as people have made sea voyages. In a life from which children and families are usually missing, and are often very much missed, pets provide a focus for emotions and affection – although cats and dogs may have been expected to earn their keep catching mice and rats, too.

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Seals, sharks and shipwrecks: 3D mapping the Lady Darling shipwreck

The Narooma Bar on a very calm day with Montague Island in the distance. Image: Lee Graham /ANMM.

The Narooma Bar on a very calm day with Montague Island in the distance. Image: Lee Graham / ANMM.

New South Wales hosts a wide variety of historic shipwreck sites. These range from large, fully exposed and intact hulls to smaller, largely disarticulated, dispersed, and buried structural components and artefacts. The environments in which these sites exist also differ significantly in terms of seabed composition, water depth and water clarity.

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Day 4-5 Botany Basics voyage and a weekend in Newcastle

Our final update from the Botany Basics voyage last week has been a little delayed due to the very busy few days we’ve had in Newcastle.

HMB Endeavour replica has been docked at Queen’s Wharf since Friday evening and nearly 3500 people have come aboard the ship in the four days since then, not including several groups of children from schools in the Newcastle area.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle's Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour exchanges gun salutes with Newcastle’s Fort Scratchley. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

At the time of our last post from the Botany Basics voyage, we were at sea in light airs, making the most of a gentle southerly to get in some good sailing offshore from Broken Bay before heading north towards Newcastle.

The light winds continued during Thursday (day 4 of the voyage) before a sudden change came through around 2200 hours – four bells into the evening watch*. The topsails had been reefed earlier in the evening and we had further shortened sail at the change of the watch (2000 hours) so were prepared for the increased wind.

The southerly breeze was ideal for sailing north to Newcastle. The ship zigzagged up the coast, sailing with the wind abaft the beam. We wore ship at each change of watch in order to head towards Newcastle, making it a busy night!

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour sails Pittwater to Newcastle. Photo: SMM.

Closer to Newcastle on Friday morning, shipping traffic increased and our lookouts were kept busy keeping an eye on new ships appearing on the horizon at regular intervals.

The stern lookout also spotted two seals playing just behind us as we came into Newcastle. It was a good voyage for wildlife sightings, with a small minke whale swimming around the ship for about an hour on Thursday and humpbacks breaching close by during the night.

Endeavour entered Newcastle just before 1500 hours on Friday, exchanging gun salutes with the Fort Scratchley. Fort Scratchley is famous as the only coastal fortification to have fired at an enemy Naval vessel during World War II.

Endeavour at Queen's Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby's Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour at Queen’s Wharf, Newcastle. Nobby’s Head is visible in the background. Photo by SMM.

Newcastle is also significant for the Endeavour replica as Nobby’s Head, the headland at the southern entrance to Newcastle Harbour, was sighted by Captain Cook on 10 May 1770, four days after his departure from Botany Bay.

Endeavour has not visited Newcastle for about six years and we were delighted with the wonderful reception from the city. We were met by a large crowd on the wharf and the Newcastle Herald captured some lovely shots of the ship’s arrival.

Endeavour will depart Queen’s Wharf at 0900 hours this morning. We’ll keep you updated – depending on our access to the internet – during the next voyage, sailing from Newcastle to Port Stephens then south to Pittwater before arriving in Sydney on Sunday 21st September.

All’s well.

* The ship’s bell was traditionally struck each half hour, with one to eight bells struck during each four hour watch. Therefore two bells in the evening watch (2000-2400 hours) indicates 2200 hours, or 10pm.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Day 3: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

Wednesday 10 September 2014, 2000 hours (8pm)

Hours under sail: 10

Distance travelled over ground: 34 miles

Wednesday on the Hawkesbury River dawned very differently to Tuesday – instead of sunshine we had soaking rain as the crew of HMB Endeavour replica weighed anchor at 6am and prepared to go to sea.

The rain eased mid-morning and the sun emerged as we sailed east with courses and reefed topsails set, as well as the fore- and main-topmast staysails.

Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

We were straight into sea routine – that is, the fore, main and mizzen watches began their rotations of four hour watches (or two hour watches in the case of the ‘dog watches’ from 1600-1800 and 1800-2000 hours).

While there is always one ‘duty watch’ which is responsible for providing crew to helm the ship and keep lookout, often the other watches will be required on deck to assist with sail handling.

HMB Endeavour's spritsail. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour‘s spritsail. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

This trip, the watches include our two botanists. Now that the botanical part of the voyage is complete, Trevor and Matt are joining in with the other voyage crew in sail handling and watches.

I had a chat to Matt over lunch as we were both on galley duty and he’s quite delighted to get a chance to go sailing – a bit of change from his usual working week at the Botanic Gardens. He hasn’t had a chance to spend much time in the rigging yet and can’t wait to do so!

During the morning watch we also set the spritsail, a square sail which drops from the spritsail yard slung beneath the bowsprit. The spritsails are rarely seen on more modern square rigged vessels, but Endeavour carries two.

The spritsails when set can reduce visibility quite substantially – they are sometimes known as blinds because they ‘blind’ the lookouts posted to the bow.

The original Endeavour would likely have posted lookouts further forward on the jibboom – Endeavour replica sometimes does the same when it is necessary and safe to do so. We have the added advantage of modern radar to help us keep an eye on any vessels or landforms nearby.

Endeavour's sails in the moonlight. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Endeavour‘s sails in the moonlight. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

With light southerly breezes and very little swell, it’s been a wonderful day at sea and only two of the voyage crew have been seasick. The winds are expected to remain gentle through the night.

We’re hoping for more southerly wind tomorrow to help us head to Newcastle, as we are currently 11 miles off Narrabeen, which is around 55 miles south of our destination.

At 2000 hours, the full moon is casting a bright path across the ocean to our starboard quarter. All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Botany Basics 101: with Dr Matt Renner & Dr Trevor Wilson


Dr Matt Renner and Dr Trevor Wilson

The HMB Endeavour team has partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney to bring you our first themed voyage, Botany Basics, which sets sail on 8 – 12 September.

Sailing from Sydney to Newcastle via Pittwater, this special botany themed voyage features two very special guests from the Gardens, Dr Matt Renner and Dr Trevor Wilson.

Dr Renner and Dr Wilson kindly sat with us to tell us what they were most looking forward to about their maiden voyage. Continue reading

Latest technology on an 18th Century ship

I wonder what Captain Cook would think of the latest navigation equipment we are installing on HMB Endeavour? We are getting the ship ready for September when we sail to Newcastle, and what an exciting month of sailing it will be! During the voyage, science and botany will be explored with Dr Trevor Wilson and Dr Matt Renner from the Royal Botanic Gardens, and also astronomy with Fred Watson from the Australian Astronomical Observatory on board.

Andrew Laurie along with John Holden are the brains behind putting together the new ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) in the chart room. In the days of Captain Cook they used paper charts, (however we still do use paper charts) and along with the ECDIS comes a new Sailor Sat C, a satellite communication system to receive accurate and instant weather and traffic updates. Oh, and we also have the latest radar system available. Andrew says the safety of the crew and passengers is important. “This equipment is a priority in voyaging overseas as well as in Australian waters”.

AndrewAndrew Laurie is our Engineer and the brains behind HMB Endeavour – with a bit of a sense of humour to spice things up a bit. He joined the crew during the Circumnavigation of Australia as an Engineer, came back for the Fleet Review in 2013 and has been with us ever since.

Born in Western Australia his background is fishing, pearling, farming cattle along with square rig sailing & sail training which is his passion.

When I asked him what one of his highlights was on HMB Endeavour he said: “a day when the toilet alarm doesn’t go off and I have to fix it (the black water tank alarm)”. That’s a highlight?! “That, and also when we turn the engines off and we REALLY GO SAILING”. However the best part, he says, is arriving back at port after a long voyage with a happy crew who have had the time of their lives.

So Andrew, where do you see yourself in the next two years? “I would like to be on board the HMB Endeavour on an international voyage”.

By Rina Timpano, Voyage Coordinator, HMB Endeavour

Deferred – In the footsteps of Cook, La Perouse and d’Entrecasteaux

Unfortunately, we’ve continued to have problems finalising the voyage to New Caledonia and reluctantly, we have decided to postpone it. It will occur but probably in April/May next year. In the meantime, we are negotiating with a variety of outside agencies and authorities to cement in the other elements of this year’s program.

It is likely that the ship will sail to Newcastle in September, taking an opportunity to see the coast as Cook did and to understand something of sciences of botany and astronomy. In October/November the ship will sail to Eden on the NSW south coast and participate in the Eden Whale Festival and in January/February next year Endeavour will sail to Hobart for the wooden boat festival. It is also hoped to visit Flinders Island, Maria Island, Port Arthur, Adventure Bay, Port Davey and possibly Macquarie Harbour. The intent is to learn something of the convict history of Tasmania, the hardships of operating square rigged ships in Bass Strait and of course, Cook’s voyage to that part of the world in Resolution.

As soon the details are settled, we will begin posting those voyages on our website.

John Dikkenberg

Australian pirate tales

‘Australian pirate tales’, by curator Dr Stephen Gapps. From Signals 97 (Dec 2011-Feb 2012).

We might not think of Australian history as having much to do with pirates. Yet from the infamous Batavia mutiny in 1629 to the 1998 seizure of the oil tanker Petro Ranger by pirates in the South China Sea, there have in fact been dozens of instances of piracy in Australian waters or on vessels travelling from these shores.

The Batavia Massacre

The Batavia Massacre

In 1806 the brig Venus was weather-bound for five weeks in Twofold Bay, on the south coast of New South Wales. Ill feeling had been building between its crew and Captain Chase who, fearing for his life, left to report to the authorities that he also feared the crew would take the ship – which they promptly did. The Sydney Gazette described the ‘band of ruffians’. First mate Benjamin Kelly was a ‘pockmarked’ American whaler. Second mate Richard Edwards had a ‘very remarkable scar or cut in one cheek’. Seaman Joseph Redmonds was a ‘mulatto’ who wore his hair in pigtails and had ‘holes in his ears, being accustomed to wear large earrings’. Their accomplices included a ‘Malay cook’, two convicts with ‘sallow complexions’ and a woman with a ‘hoarse voice’. They would have been at home in any pirate tale.

The incredible voyage of Mary Bryant and her convict companions from Sydney to Timor in an open boat in 1791 showed that escape by boat from the colonies was indeed possible. William Bligh’s epic open-boat voyage after the 1789 Bounty mutiny may also have inspired the many convict escape attempts that followed. Certainly, after the mutiny on the Bounty, ship captains in the Pacific were on their guard. The lure of stealing a ship and living in a tropical paradise in the South Seas was clear. Lieutenant George Tobin, on Bligh’s second breadfruit voyage in 1792, noted how ‘passing some months at a South Sea Island and in the full swing of indulgencies’ was good reason to keep a ‘vigilant eye upon the crew’.

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HMB Endeavour replica in Newcastle

Interested visitors visit the replica HMB Endeavour in Newcastle.

Interested visitors visit the replica HMB Endeavour in Newcastle.

Voyage Log: Sydney-Brisbane Aug 2008: Day 3

Noon Position: Lat 32 53.4’S Long152 32.8 E
Day’s Run: 82.5 nautical miles

Last night south easterly winds drew in, forcing us to wear ship. With waves coming in 2.4-2.6 metres, one poor gentleman fell out of his hammock whilst sleeping but most slept well as Endeavour creaked along at six knots.

In the morning the seas have calmed down but still the waters are choppy and the swell rolls the ship continually side to side as humpback whales follow and swim beneath the ship. The first light sails are set by the watch, jib, sprit topsail, mizzen topsail, main topgallant, mizzen staysail and mizzen sail.  Breakfast is called and is eaten quickly because its time for our favourite time of the day – happy hour!. This is where every crew member will swab the decks, wipe the bulkheads and generally sanitise the entire ship until Endeavour starts to smell like roses. After happy hour, the watches go on deck to man their posts.

There is always work to be done on Endeavour

There is always work to be done on Endeavour

It is a perfect day for sailing, the sky is blue and the crisp gentle breeze pushes Endeavour along as the men at the helm say to one another – “life can’t get any better than this – unless I;m riding my Harley Davidson”. The seamen appreciate being away from the hustle and bustle that land life brings to one self and there is nothing more important than what is happening right here and now onboard Endeavour

All of a sudden there is a commotion on deck. We caught a fish! Cook’s mate, Darby, rushes up from the galley to examine the fine catch. “Hmmm, it appears to me to be a mack tuna, weighing in about 1.5 kilos, approximately 50cm in length” The fish will taste delicious once we catch a few more of these, then we can cook them up and eat them for dinner.

After lunch all the grim sea sick faces turned into smiles, the feeling seems to have passed and the crew united with adventure and are determined not to let the team down so they get straight back to work as we sail the East Australian Current North East, 20 miles off Newcastle.

All is well.

Contributed by ship’s steward, Melanie Snow