HMB Endeavour: Sydney to Hobart Voyage, Day 1


A blog series from on board the Endeavour ship as she sails to Tasmania. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

A raining start to our grand adventure. By 12.30pm all voyage crew had completed their safety induction and necessary paperwork and after a delicious first lunch aboard of soup and salads, we were ready to depart.

The crews consists of 16 professional crew, 36 voyage crew and 4 supernumeries (for more information on crew types, see our Sail the Endeavour page).  There are a number of family groups aboard, including a group making up most of Foremast Watch, who are helping their father achieve a lifetime dream of sailing to Tasmania. Continue reading

After 82 years, still cruising the Southern Oceans

Going through the museum’s archives I came across an old photo album featuring a yacht and two men photographed during the 1930s – nothing unexpected for a maritime museum’s collection. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the boat’s story.


Maluka sitting high and dry on the Victorian coast ANMM collection

It all started in 1932 when George and William (Willy) Clark (the ‘Lucky Clarks’ as they became known), two brothers from Sydney who were also wealthy foresters, decided to build the 9 metre gaff-rigged cutter Maluka of Kermandie following the design in Huon pine by Cliff Gale.

In 1933, the brothers took Maluka on a five month cruise off Far North Queensland, followed by a trip to Lord Howe Island the following year. The album documents these trips with numerous photos of Maluka at sea and the adventurous, care-free life of the brothers, fishing, going for picnics in remote places and mixing with the locals, reinforcing the romantic ideas of escape and private travel that have fascinated people and contributed to the characterisation of cruising sailors as bohemians and eccentrics. Continue reading

Ancestral pursuits aboard a historic American whaler

Charles W Morgan in dock

The Charles W Morgan alongside the shiplift dock. The shiplift was installed in 2007 and used to lift the whaleship, carefully cradled in blocks and braces, out of the water. A computer controls the lift, monitors and distributes loads and protects the vessel from damage. A horizontal track system moves the vessel ashore and a concrete platform under the rails collects all waste from the work on the ship. This protects the Mystic River’s water quality and marine habitat. Photos courtesy of Lesley Walker.

In April this year I climbed aboard the Charles W Morgan at her dock at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, United States for the first time. With a sailing date of 17 May fast approaching, riggers and shipwrights, painters and crew, electricians and carpenters, plumbers and deckhands were swarming about the ship in a frenzy of activity, patiently side stepping the curious and fascinated public who came to marvel and to question.

First Mate’s Cabin showing the writing slope and lamp for keeping the log.

First Mate’s Cabin showing the writing slope and lamp for keeping the log.

I sat for a while at the captain and mates’ table beside the cabins which Norfolk Islander George Parkins Christian occupied for 20 years, reflecting and writing, and exploring the crew cabins, the blubber room, the between decks areas. I felt the ship move heavily at the dock as she responded to the 45mph winds, listened to the creaking of the hull and the sound of the wind singing through the rigging. Almost as if she sensed her imminent freedom. I talked to Tim, a crew member painting thick tar on the dead eyes and rigging and Paul, a shipwright busy with woodwork below. Their excitement and passion for the project was infectious. Behind the roped off area, Paul showed me the gimballed and carved captain’s bed made for Lydia Landers when she joined her husband in 1863, the first of five captains’ wives who sailed on the Charles W Morgan. Quite comfy! Continue reading

A tale of love and adventure between two teakwood panels

The journal of the Loch Bredan

The teakwood cover of the journal of the Loch Bredan made by the ship’s carpenter from the panels of the ship’s charthouse door. The journal was written and illustrated by Chief Officer Robert Robertson Smythe, 1902.
ANMM Collection, photographs by Sabina Escobar, ANMM

The museum recently acquired the journal of the Liverpool barque Loch Bredan, by Chief Officer Robert Robertson Smythe. This wonderful logbook/journal was written and beautifully illustrated by Smythe during his 123-day voyage from Sydney to Liverpool via Cape Horn from the 25 July 1902 to 24 November 1902.

The Loch Bredan, built in 1882, was a steel-hulled barque of the ‘Loch’ ships of Liverpool owned by D&J Sproat & Co. She traded between England, Australia and New Zealand, arriving for the first time in Australia at Watsons Bay on November 1891 after a three-month journey from Antwerp, Belgium. In 1902, the Loch Bredan was forced to return to port within a fortnight of leaving Sydney on the return journey to Liverpool. During this trip, the ship ran into such severe weather that three life boats were smashed along with the charthouse’s doors.

She left Adelaide in September 1903 having picked up crew and cargo and disappeared with no scrap of wreckage ever found. Chief Officer Smythe was not on board, as he had signed off after arriving in Liverpool in November 1902. During this voyage, (the last one before its disappearance) the ship’s carpenter used the teakwood of these doors to make the covers for Smythe’s journal. These covers and the memories written on its pages are the only remaining pieces of the Loch Bredan today. Continue reading

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

Efforts are now well underway to get Endeavour ready for her voyage to New Caledonia. You’ll note that the dates for the voyage have changed slightly. The amended dates avoid clashes with other events underway in New Caledonia and are now:

  • 27 May to 6 June Sydney to Noumea.
  • 10 June to 17 June Noumea to Noumea. Coastal sail and visit Isle of Pines.
  • 19 June to 29 June Noumea to Sydney

The program looks really exciting and for those joining, the voyage provides an opportunity to sail this wonderful ship while going to a new destination. Hopefully you’ll disembark with an appreciation of what Cook and other 18th century explorers achieved, a knowledge of square rig sailing, a love of the sea and a little French language.

If you would like to become involved in this exciting event, full details are now on our website.

Behind the scenes – Cataloguing a captain’s diary

As a Librarian, my favourite job is cataloguing diaries written by sailors or passengers. Often these diaries are of a very personal nature, and I feel I’m being transported back to the 1800s.

One such diary is that of Captain Buttrey of the brig Dart, which sailed to the South Sea Islands in 1865 to collect bêche-de-mer and tortoise shells. It’s a wonderful diary, written, he says, for his wife and four boys, and “it is only intended for their eyes”. I love to picture him writing this diary to them, while he looks at their “likenesses” and imagines what they are doing at that moment. I was wondering whether these “likenesses” were drawings or photographs, as at one point he doubts the accuracy of the colour of his wife’s eyes. But later in the diary he mentions that his wife had to hold her breath when her likeness was taken, so they must have been hand-coloured photographs.

Sketch of canoes from the diary ANMM 00048022

Sketch of canoes from the diary ANMM 00048022

In the diary he mentions that he is collecting specimens for his “good friend the Curator of the Museum”. Detective work came into play when trying to establish which museum this was, and a search of the Trove database came up with an article from the Sydney Morning Herald listing the donations to the Australian Museum in January and February 1866, including reptiles, fishes, molluscs and crustacea from the South Sea Islands, donated by our Captain Buttrey –

His descriptions of the natives of the islands are fascinating – especially his observation of small children being given cigarettes to quieten them, and babies given pipes for the same reason.

Pressed leaf accompanying the diary ANMM 00048026

Pressed leaf accompanying the diary ANMM 00048026

He returned to Sydney as a passenger on the schooner Chance, all the way hoping to be home in time for his wife’s birthday, and he expresses the hope that the pilot will be able to drop him off near his home in Manly.

Further research found them moving to England in 1868; the family having expanded to 5 children, and another born in England, as shown in the 1871 census. He is listed there as “retired merchant”.

I’m sure when he sent his daily allocation of kisses to each of his children he never imagined a Librarian would be reading about it almost 150 years later.

Eighteen months on a leaky boat

 ‘Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus’

‘Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus’, by Ferdinand Bauer, lent by Natural History Museum, London

There is something intriguing about natural history illustrations. The plants look as though they are sprouting from the page but the animals appear slightly on the edge of reality, with blankly staring eyes and stiffly posed limbs. Perhaps this is because the immobility of plants permit them to be drawn from life whereas animals do not generally allow the painter that luxury unless they are in a more, well, deceased state.

Continue reading

HMB Endeavour adventure begins

29 March 2010: The museum’s HMB Endeavour Adventure Sails are about to begin! We have a full crew ready and waiting. Well not really waiting… we’re busily preparing the ship for cast off.
We’ve been preparing for months – developing a diverse sailing program and signing up more than 450 paying voyage crew keen to learn all about life on an 18th century sailing ship.

How do you prepare an 18th century vessel for sea? To begin with, it needs a professional crew!

Long gone are the days  when heavy-handed “press gangs” recruited crew members in Britain’s waterfront taverns. All 16 professional crew positions on Endeavour need qualifications for ship board safety, first aid and fire fighting. Additional responsibilities require further qualifications.

Our professional crew, with their contemporary qualifications, have impressive sailing experience on tall ships. This secures safety for our 18th century vessel on its 21st century voyages.

Yours aye
Captain Ross Mattson

About the project

Talking over the plans with curator Nigel Erskine

Talking over the plans of the Beagle with curator Nigel Erskine

2009 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s ground breaking book ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection’ and the bicentenary of his birth.  The ANMM is going to celebrate by staging a Charles Darwin exhibition.

As part of the exhibition the museum asked me to build a model of the HMS Beagle, the ship that took Darwin on his voyage of discovery back in 1831.

When I take on a project like this, for me it’s not just another build. Museum work is definitely special as you are creating a bit of history and hopefully portray it in 3D to the public something interesting.

My initial impression when viewing the drawing for the Beagle was “the real thing was so small, how did they work and live on board”.  The other problem I discovered was the limited sources of information for the Beagle. Written descriptions and line drawings are all that I have to go on as well as help from allot of experts in the fields of Maritime Archeology and weaponry of the time.

What I do not want to produce is a nice shinny model with clean glossy wood finishes.
At the initial meeting to get a feel for the model I described wanting to give the model a finish “as if it has been at sea for a few weeks”. I will use subtle weathering and shading techniques to create not only a model but hopefully a snap shot of the past.

There are areas of the ship that are ‘grey areas’ such as would the Beagle continue to have the cannonade at the front of the ship, etc. I will be opening problems I encounter to the forum here hopefully for some educated answers.

I have 4 ½ Months to complete the model.

I aim to have the following done:
The hull and deck – Mid October
All components and Masts – End November.
Rigging, Base and Travel Case – End December.

I have been looking forward to this journey and as you watch me make the Beagle, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Mike Bass