About David Payne

David Payne is Curator of Historic Vessels at Australian National Maritime Museum, and through the Australian Register of Historic Vessels he works closely with heritage boat owners throughout Australia researching and advising on their craft and their social connections. David has also been a yacht designer and documented many of the museum’s vessels with extensive drawings. He has had a wide sailing experience, from Lasers and 12-foot skiffs through to long ocean passages.

Terrific times in Tasmania at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017

Monday morning at the festival. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

Monday morning at the festival. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

Over 500 boats, numerous displays, demonstrations and talks, four seasons of weather plus a rainbow, and not to mention the fine Tasmanian food, it’s always a challenge at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival  (AWBF) to cover everything with not much more than three days to see it all. The museum managed to do it by sending a diverse contingent of staff for the festival, which ran from Friday 10th through to Monday 13th February, 2017.

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Ready for Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017

At the 2015 Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

At the 2015 Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

The 2017 Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart starts this Friday 10th February, and the Australian National Maritime Museum will be very well represented at the festival over the weekend. A contingent of staff is travelling south to attend and help with various activities.

The museum has a booth in the principal display hall on Princes Wharf and is hosting a cocktail evening on Saturday. It is the sponsor for the AWBF Symposium of speakers which runs over three days, and is a key organiser with Maritime Museum of Tasmania for the Australian Maritime Museums Council’s Conference that proceeds the festival. The Voyage Game will also be a feature at the festival.

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BIG IS BETTER: ‘Ovation of the Seas’ comes to Australia.

No help needed. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

No help needed. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

Big is best,
Big wins
Big is like – OMG – gigantic
Big is beautiful!

Look what’s outside my hotel window in Hobart: Ovation of the Seasone of the biggest ocean cruise ships in the world. It’s here, you can’t miss it, it seems longer than the docks, wider than the widest sea, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound – anything goes in this department.

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Waves of history: Inspecting a historic surf craft in Tathra

The historic surf craft is housed on a heritage wharf at Tathra. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

Inspecting a historic surf craft housed on a heritage wharf at Tathra. Image: David Payne / ANMM.

Another MMAPSS vessel inspection has just been completed by the museum’s Historic Vessels curator David Payne. Down at Tathra on the NSW south coast of NSW is an early example of a surf craft, and perhaps the first surfboat used by the Tathra Surf Club. David flew down and spent a day going over the craft and delving into its history at the Pig & Whistle Line Museum.

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Re-creating Harrison’s timekeepers…in Australia

H4 replica by Norm Banham showing the aluminium case. Image: Martin Foster.

H4 replica by Norm Banham showing the aluminium case. Image: Martin Foster.

It is said that longevity is improved markedly by keeping your mind challenged and active and keeping hand–eye coordination intact. If that’s the case Norm Banham might last forever. And he has the clocks that will last with him and keep time accurately – an exquisite replica set he made of John Harrison’s four intricate and ground breaking marine timekeepers. Harrison’s work commenced in 1730 and was completed in 1759.

Harrison’s timekeepers are central to the story about longitude brought to life in the exhibition Ships, Clocks & Stars – The Quest for Longitude and as its tenure at the Australian National Maritime Museum draws to a close at the end of October, an Australian connection that deserves more attention has come to light.

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Look to the horizon: Why latitude was easier to find than longitude

'Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude' traces the history of finding reliable methods for determining your longitude at sea. Image: ANMM.

‘Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude’ traces the history of finding reliable methods for determining your longitude at sea. Image: ANMM.

Ships, Clocks and Stars: the Quest for Longitude tells the amazing story of how the problem of determining longitude at sea was solved. The exhibition explains the rival methods and shows the incredible craftsmanship and ingenuity of clockmaker John Harrison, whose timepieces finally gave sailors a practical means to calculate their longitude in a simple manner.

Why was it so hard to sort out a means of finding longitude, when it seems finding latitude had been a relatively simple process?

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Mark your calendars for the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival 2016

The Ena, a fine example of Edwardian elegance. Photo by Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

The Ena, a fine example of Edwardian elegance. Image: Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

The Classic and Wooden Boat Festival, April 15 to 17 2016.

The answer to the question ‘what is a classic boat?’ will be on display over the weekend on 15th to 17th April at the Australian National Maritime Museum, where The Classic and Wooden Boat Festival will have over 100 craft that show the diversity that fits this title.

One of the most easily identified classic vessels will be the steam yacht Ena. It features high class Edwardian elegance throughout and the sight of this fine craft steaming along, cutter bow carving through the water, a gently curving sheer, raked lines to the superstructure and a long overhang aft are all hallmarks of what most would consider classic without question.

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A tribute to Robert Oatley AO BEM

Robert Ian ‘Bob’ Oatley AO BEM was a well-known and respected businessman, winemaker, yachtsman and philanthropist. To the Australian public he was best known for his first winemaking company, Rosemount, and his last yacht, the eight-time Sydney to Hobart winning super maxi Wild Oats XI. His business background has been widely covered in the media since his passing was announced, but his wide-ranging support for yachting deserves to be highlighted as well.

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Whale watching in Sydney Harbour

Whale watching in Sydney harbour

Whale watching in Sydney Harbour. Photo: David Payne.

In late July swimmers and paddlers (including my son) exercising at Balmoral Beach in Sydney Harbour found themselves sharing their early Saturday morning with a 14 metre long southern right whale (Eubaelena australis) only 50 metres from the shoreline and happily diving under them. The next day we watched from a distance in our kayaks as it spent hours in the deep-water trench just off nearby Chinaman’s Beach before heading west and into upper Middle Harbour, beyond the Spit Bridge.

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Magnus Halvorsen (1918–2015)

Magnus & Trygve Halvorsen with one of their winning Sydney Hobart trophies.

Magnus and Trygve Halvorsen with one of their winning Sydney-Hobart trophies. Photograph courtesy CYCA Archives.

A generation of a family known for their classic wooden boat building in Australia has now come to an end with the passing of Magnus Halvorsen late in July, a month short of his 97th birthday. He was born in Norway, but migrated to Australia (via South Africa) as a child in 1925 with his mother, four brothers and two sisters. His father, Lars Halvorsen had arrived here in 1924, and established a boat building business in Sydney.

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Warwick Hood AO 1932–2015

Dame Pattie full sail - photo by Douglas Baglin

Dame Pattie under full sail – Photographer Douglas Baglin 00029529 ANMM Collection

Naval architect Warwick Hood AO passed away at Erina on the NSW Central Coast early in July, shortly before his 83rd birthday. To the general public and the yachting scene in particular he was well recognised and highly respected as the designer of Australia’s second America’s Cup challenger, the International 12-Metre class yacht Dame Pattie. This design was very significant in its own right, but was a part of Hood’s long career in naval architecture that was also filled with remarkably varied work that reflects wide interests along with an ability to manage diverse marine projects.

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Alan Bond (1938–2015) and some of his maritime connections

Endeavour Replica 2005

Endeavour replica pictured in 2005, the year HM Bark Endeavour Foundation transferred ownership of the vessel to the Australian National Maritime Museum.

This is not an obituary or eulogy but rather a note of recognition and acknowledgement of the man whose yachting and other nautical activities considerably influenced the maritime history of Australia. The Australian National Maritime Museum is connected to this history through objects in the National Maritime Collection and our management of the Endeavour replica. Continue reading

Oysters and their punts

The Clyde River oyster punt

The Clyde River oyster punt, 1970. Australian Register of Historic Vessels, HV000558

Oysters – a first choice on the menu for many people, and while enthusiasts have their favourite coastal spot that they swear has the best specimens, remember that someone has to do the hard work of farming them in shallow water. And for this they need a boat.

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Voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa comes to the museum

Hōkūleʻa at sea

Hōkūleʻa. Photographer: Scott Kanda. Copyright: OiWi TV.

Hōkūleʻa is a traditional voyaging canoe carrying with it a rich traditional culture from a point where it had almost been lost. Now, as it sails across the Tasman Sea to Australia, where it will berth at the Australian National Maritime Museum from 18 May, it is testing itself and building new strength by taking its crew and their culture into waters it has not travelled before.

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MMAPSS travel to regional NSW

PS Ruby in dock at Wentworth

PS Ruby in dock at Wentworth. Photo: D Payne.

Every year the museum awards various grants through its Maritime Museums of Australia Support Scheme (MMAPSS). These can take the form of financial assistance or in kind support, for which museum staff travel to the institution involved. This is an excellent outreach opportunity for the museum, and being onsite greatly improves the quality of the work its staff can do. As Curator for Historic Vessels I travelled well out into regional New South Wales to work with two of the successful recipients in the most recent round of grants. I was visiting two very different craft: the 107-year-old paddle steamer PS Ruby and an oyster punt built by Gus Cole, possibly as early as 1918.

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