Sea Bird: A ghost ship story to shiver yer timbers

Ghost ship – Self steering and completely intact, the Sea Bird appeared to onlookers as being guided by a ‘mysterious power’. Image: <a href="https://unmyst3.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/ellen-austin.html"> Unsolved Mysteries in the World</a>.

Ghost ship – Self-steering and completely intact, the Sea Bird appeared to onlookers as if it was being guided by a ‘mysterious power’. Image: Unsolved Mysteries in the World.

One of the upsides of the eerie Halloween season is that you can let yourself dwell on the macabre. Even if the rest of the year you envision yourself as a hard-nosed cynic, on Halloween you are allowed to drop your scepticism and ponder the impossible ‘What if…?’

For maritime folk, there is no end of unnerving tales to scare yourself with. Oceans are vast and humans have sailed the seven seas long enough that you can take your pick of myths or unsolved mysteries that will keep you awake with chills, well into the night. Leaving aside sea monsters, murderous pirates or alien encounters, it is the appearance of ghost ships that can really raise the hair on your neck. The thought of these silent and abandoned vessels aimlessly making their way across oceans is disconcerting, to say the least.

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Endeavour’s Botany Bay voyage: Meeting of Two Cultures Ceremony

The clouds parted as the voyage crew gathered to join the HMB Endeavour replica on Tuesday morning for a three-day return voyage to Botany Bay. The voyage was timed to coincide with the 245th Anniversary Ceremony of the landing of Captain Cook and the Endeavour crew at Kurnell in Botany Bay. The voyage crew included some new crew and some ‘repeat offenders’, as the returning voyage crew have been affectionately dubbed.

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Meet John Dikkenberg, captain of HMB Endeavour

John Dikkenberg on board Endeavour.

John Dikkenberg on board Endeavour.

Meet John Dikkenberg, the new captain of HMB Endeavour, replica. John joined the museum about three weeks ago and it’s fantastic to have him on board. We caught up with John to find out more about his experience sailing tall ships and his new role as captain. If you have any questions for John, add them in the comments section of this blog and we’ll have them answered for you.

It’s great to have you on board as the new captain of Endeavour. Can you tell us about your experience at sea and on tall ships?

Most of my experience in tall ships comes from James Craig. I’ve been with that ship for about seven years, and been with her as master for about five years. I’ve been going to sea since the late 60s and in a previous life I was the captain of two Oberon class submarines and a River class destroyer. 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 re-opens to the public

HMB Endeavour replica will re-open to the public at the museum tomorrow, Saturday 23 June.

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HMB Endeavour replica at museum

This is the first time visitors in Sydney will be able to board the ship since arriving back after an epic circumnavigation of Australia! The ship will continue to be open everyday at the museum.

We look forward to seeing you on board.

Photography competition winners announced!

To celebrate the museum’s 20th anniversary on 29 November 2011, we launched a photographic competition inviting visitors to share their museum moments from the past 20 years.

We received some fantastic entries from visitors across Australia, including a number of photos from Endeavour‘s  current circumnavigation voyage. Below we feature the winning entries. Congratulations to Jacob, Sophie and Mitchell!

If you would like to view more of the entries, check out our Flickr page.

The winning photographs, along with a selection of other entries will feature in an upcoming issue of Australian Photography magazine and the next issue of Signals, the museum’s quarterly publication.

What’s your favourite photo? Tell us in the comments below or on Flickr, we’d love to know!

Winning entries

Overall best photograph and category winner of From your archives – photographs from 1991 – 1999

200 degree view of ANMM from Batavia by Jacob R NSW

Jacob R. (NSW) Taken: December 1999
200 Degrees Darling Harbour from Batavia’s Mainmast.

Category winner of New memories – Photographs from 2000 – 2012

Endeavour at full sail by Sophie M WA

Sophie M. (WA) Taken: 13 October 2011
This photo is of HMB Endeavour firing its canon in respect as it circled the Leeuwin on its ways into Fremantle Harbour.

Category winner of Kids only! – Photographs taken by children 16 years and younger

HMAS Vampire artillery by Mitchell K NSW

Mitchell K. (NSW) Taken: July 2011
A view of the artillery on HMAS Vampire.

More than one way to tar a ship?

Today the Duyfken team are enjoying the Sydney sun (a rarity these days!) while giving the ship a lick of tar.

Miriam and Andrew tarring Duyfken the tallship

The tar is produced by the slow burning of pine to extract its precious sap and commonly referred to as Stockholm tar.  In the late 1600s through to the 1800s pine tar production in Stockholm dominated the market, hence the name. Throughout the ages the tar has been used in the preservation for natural products, such as timber housing and traditional rigging on ships.

Miriam (pictured) says, tarring is ongoing job for Duyfken – the tar bucket is out almost every two months. It takes a long time to complete the whole ship, as it is only Miriam and Andrew onboard to keep the ship, well, ship-shape.

Interestingly, Stockholm tar is also used by vets to treat cracked hooves.

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!

Bunbury! Last school group port for 2011

The students from Manjimup Education Support Centre were among the lucky 803 students to visit HMB Endeavour while she was in port at Bunbury from 9 – 13 November. As you can see from the photos they loved it! Several of these students had fathers and grandfathers who worked in the timber industry at the time the replica was being built in Fremantle. It really goes to show that this voyage is all about living history.

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre arrive at Endeavour

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre boarding Endeavour

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre

Manjimup Education Suppport Centre onboard Endeavour

The next port where we’ll be open to the public is Albany from 14 – 18 January 2012,  during school holidays. We are now taking school bookings for our visit in Port Lincoln at the start of February 2012. Anyone looking to book in a school visit, please get in touch.

We look forward to seeing you onboard!

Volunteer callout: Western Australia

We are in need of additional volunteer visitor guides and overnight shipkeepers  for our upcoming port visits in Western Australia.  No experience is necessary and full training is provided. If you are interested, we’d love to hear from you.

Port dates
Fremantle: 14 Oct – 1 Nov 2011
Bunbury: 9 – 13 Nov 2011
Albany: 14 – 18 Jan 2012

As a guide you will share the history of this great vessel with the visitors onboard Endeavour. Don’t worry – you will be provided information packs and training! You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn after a day onboard Endeavour!

If sleeping in a hammock is more your style, you may like to take on the role of overnight shipkeeper. In a small team you will be responsible for keeping Endeavour safe while in port. Previous maritime experience not necessary and training is provided.

Here’s a piece of advice from a Shane Trimby,  Endeavour volunteer in Cairns:

Just do it. You will love it, the crew will help you with your knowledge of the Endeavour and it will be something that you will never regret doing.”

Read a full interview with Shane and also Kit Edwards, who volunteered as a guide and shipkeeper in Darwin.

Complete an online volunteer application today or contact the museum’s volunteer office for more information on email  volsoffice@anmm.gov.au or fax (02) 9298 3729 or phone (02) 9298 3777.