SY Ena is now part of the museum’s floating maritime heritage fleet. Image: Andrew Frolows / ANMM.
“Shortly after 9.0’clock on Saturday morning, a handsome steam yacht, built for Mr TA Dibbs was launched from Mr Fords yard, Berrys Bay. As she left the ways she was christened ‘Ena’ by Miss Dorothy Dibbs.”
This brief report in the Sydney Morning Herald Monday 10 December 1900 and headlined “LAUNCH OF MR T.A. DIBBS’ NEW STEAM YACHT” was reflected in other newspapers with comments describing Ena as “one of the finest specimens of a modern steam yacht in the Australian colonies”.
117 years onwards andSY Ena still is one of the finest of its type, both here and internationally, despite many adventures since it was launched. Now it has come home again to Sydney, within sight of where it was built. SY Ena is now part of the National Maritime Collection at the museum. The extremely generous donation of the steam yacht by its owner Mr John Mullen.
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
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 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 →
For years it’s been under covers, almost out of sight, and seemed untouchable on the rare occasions it was out on the water – but now the harbour’s princess SY Enahas begun to shed her mystique- and the museum is lucky enough to provide a venue for her coming out.
The classic lines, clipper bow and counter stern, raked spars and funnel, an intricate, beautifully engineered steam engine in immaculate condition, and an unbelievable varnish finish, SY Ena stops everyone in their tracks, and has them lost for words when they go aboard.
SY Ena at the museum- Photographer Andrew Frolows ANMM
On Monday 4 July 1887, an elegant steam yacht glided into the waters of Sydney Harbour, having left England the year before. The harbour was alive. Its breezes filled the sails of hundreds of yachts that had turned out in welcome and rustled along the shoreline where a lively atmosphere sprang from the large crowds who had been anticipating the yacht’s arrival for days.
Onboard was Lord Thomas Brassey, future governor of Victoria and founder of the volunteer naval reserves. Despite Lord Brassey’s stature, however, the adoration of the Sydney crowd belonged to his wife, the celebrated travel writer Lady Annie Brassey, and to the vessel itself.
The yacht was the Sunbeam and it had already carried the Brasseys over many sea miles, having completed, a decade earlier, the first circumnavigation of the world by a private steam yacht. Australians and international audiences alike had followed this historic journey through Lady Brassey’s best-selling book, A Voyage in the Sunbeam (1878), which was published in nine editions and seventeen languages. The success of the book had taken its author by surprise and encouraged her to publish three more accounts of the family’s adventures onboard the much-loved Sunbeam.
Steam yacht SUNBEAM on Sydney Harbour, 1887. ANMM Collection 00013812