Shark attack in Sydney Harbour

Australian surfer Mick Fanning is in the news after surviving an attack by a Great White Shark during a surfing competition in South Africa. The incident reminded the Museum’s USA Programs Manager Richard Wood of a family tragedy involving a shark attack in Sydney Harbour.

Marcia’s been taken by a shark

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Eden to Sydney voyage, day 3-4

Thursday 6 November 2013, 1800 hours

Hours under sail since 1800 Tuesday: 41
Hours under engine since 1800 Tuesday: 7
Distance over ground: 197 nautical miles

The last 48 hours have seen the HMB Endeavour replica sailing at some distance offshore and weathering variable winds. We’ve also encountered some heavy rain accompanied by a few flashes of lightning – followed the next day by clear skies and a hot sun! So it’s been a busy and exciting time handling sails in order to get the most out of the ship with the wind that we’ve had.

Our last post, written on Tuesday but unfortunately not online immediately due to lack of internet access offshore, saw us 33 miles off Montague Island, sailing slightly north of west. We made two more tacks back and forth off the coast but weren’t able to gain ground to the north.

Waiting for the southerly change. Image: EAP.

Waiting for the southerly change. Image: EAP.

On Wednesday morning as we waited hopefully for the predicted southerly change to arrive, the wind dropped off completely and given the distance we still needed to cover to arrive on time in Sydney on Friday, it was time to power up the ‘iron topsails’ and motor north.

As the day developed, a band of cloud formed in the west, but still no sign of the southerly change during the afternoon. When the change finally did arrive around 1700 on Wednesday evening, it brought with it plenty of wind and rain.

Setting sails in the rain. Image: Nick Brown.

Endeavour crew sets sails in the wind and rain. Image: Nick Brown.

The ‘all hands on deck’ call caught some of us unprepared but we were soon all on deck dressed in the various bright colours of our wet weather gear. Those that didn’t quite get their rain gear on in time ended up soaked through by the end of their time on deck!

Under sail in the rain! Image: Nick Brown.

Under sail in the rain! Image: Nick Brown.

Setting sails was harder work (and more exciting!) than we’d experienced so far this trip due to the stronger winds. Every sail required more muscle power to set and every line carried more weight due to the wind behind each sail.

All the watches had previously had ample practice setting sails and handling lines in light winds, so the voyage crew were well prepared when the wind did pick up and sails needed to be set in a hurry.

The hard work was definitely worth it, as we were soon powering along under topsails, forecourse, spritsail and two fore-and-aft sails. We averaged around 6 knots during the night and at times exceeded 9 knots.

Unfortunately, the swell was still running from the north, making for an uncomfortable ride as Endeavour’s bluff bows punched into the oncoming swell. It made for a tough night for some amongst the voyage crew who suffered from seasickness.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and seemed to mark a turning point – everyone had a new spring in their step!

Sails set on the mainmast - as seen from above on Endeavour. Image: EAP.

Sails set on the mainmast – as seen from above on Endeavour. Image: EAP.

The swell finally eased as the day progressed, and with the sun shining and sails set it was a wonderful day’s sailing north towards Sydney.

We celebrated two birthdays in the afternoon – voyage crew member David Yarra and topman Amy Spets. In an unusual turn around, ‘all hands’ was called again – this time not to go on deck and set sails, but to gather on the 20th century deck for cake and candles.

Birthday cake, Endeavour style. Image: EAP.

Birthday cake, Endeavour style. Image: EAP.

We made sure the two people left on the helm and the lookouts didn’t miss out on cake!

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Dazzle ship models

Dazzle pattern on a merchant vessel during WWI.  ANMM Collection

Dazzle pattern on a merchant vessel during WWI. ANMM Collection

Towards the end of World War I large numbers of merchant ships were brightly painted in bizarre geometrical patterns known as ‘Dazzle Painting’ later known as dazzle camouflage. The aim was to thwart German U-boat captains who had been destroying large amounts of shipping. The colour scheme was designed to confuse and deceive an enemy as to the size, outline, course and speed of a vessel by painting sides and upperworks in contrasting colours and shapes arranged in irregular patterns. The idea, in essence, was to confuse U-boat captains by making it difficult to plot accurately an enemy ship’s movements when manoeuvring for an attack, causing the torpedo to be misdirected or the attack to be aborted.

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Who said sand paper was dull?

In 2012 the museum acquired a vast collection of negatives of Australian commercial photographer Gervais Purcell (1919-1999). Purcell worked for a variety of clients such as David Jones, P&O, Ansett Australia, Jantzen and many others.

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ANMM Collection


In the past few months, I have been cataloguing his ‘swimwear’ work that mainly contains negatives of models wearing swim and beach wear shot in studio settings, beaches and other outdoor locations during the 1940 – 1960 period.

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ANMM Collection


Through these photographs I have witnessed the evolution of swimwear styles, starting with the fairly conservative 1940s one piece.

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With fabric shortages during the war time, the US Government issued the L-85 order that basically made smaller swimming suits patriotic. Manufacturers in countries like Australia followed suit introducing the cut outs in midriff and bikinis.

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As the swimwear evolved, so did advertising. In the 1950s, ‘Golden Era’ of Cinematography and ‘Golden Age’ of Television, advertising became even prominent and daring.
Informed by market studies, agencies started positioning their ads to address the perceived consumer needs of safety, belonging and success. They also capitalised on featuring scantily-clad young ladies, which noticeably improved ad content and sales scores.

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

ANMM Collection

I can just imagine the people at the 3M abrasives and sandpaper company branch, looking for ways to make their abrasive paper products look sexy and appealing to the masses. What a better way than ask Gervais to take two bikini beauties to a lovely beach and make them interact with… yes, sheets and disks of sand paper!

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And didn’t they do a fantastic job? I’m not sure if the masses were running to their nearest hardware shop to get their hands on a box of sand paper, but what I can see is the models and perhaps, even Gervais, having a giggle at the crazy ways to accommodate abrasive material into a perfect beach scene!

A family affair: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney, day 5

Sunday 21 September 2014, 1600

HMB Endeavour replica is now back alongside at the Australian National Maritime Museum, concluding the series of three September voyages.

After our lovely evening on Saturday in Broken Bay with Dr Fred Watson, we weighed anchor at 0530 this morning to return to Sydney – under engines due to the southerly breeze.

This voyage something rather unique has happened. We occasionally have a couple come aboard Endeavour for a particular voyage, or perhaps two people who are related in some other way. This trip, there were no less than three sets of family groups – one in each of the three watches, foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast.

The dynamic of each watch was a little different than usual – the presence of two or three people who already know one another so well helps the watch click as a team faster than it otherwise might.

Father and son team Dick and Charles Pearce. Photo: SMM.

Father and son team Dick and Charles Pearse. Photo: SMM.

In foremast watch, father and son team Richard (Dick) and Charles Pearse joined the Endeavour crew for a few different reasons. They both sail Endeavour class yachts – Dick bought an Endeavour 24 when Charles was 11 years old and they went on to race and win at state and national level.

They also have a particular interest in Captain Cook. Charles remembers the two hundredth anniversary of Cook’s arrival in Botany Bay – it was Charles’ sixth birthday on the day of the celebrations and he’s been interested in Cook ever since. Dick is also a bit of an expert on Cook’s sailing logs and both were interested in the celestial navigation element of the voyage.

At 82, Dick is delighted with the experience he had on board, which included sail handling, standing watches and climbing the rig – all the elements of square rig sailing.

Beth Higgs with son Kristian. Photo: SMM.

Beth Higgs with son Kristian. Photo: SMM.

Beth Higgs and her teenage son Kristian were part of mainmast watch, so I got to know them both very well during the five days of the voyage. Beth is a mariner by trade, holding both watchkeeping and maritime engineering tickets.

Like the Pearses, Beth was particularly interested in the celestial navigation element of this voyage. Beth and Kristian both took noon sights and calculated the ship’s latitude.

Kristian already has a great deal of experience on the water for a teenager, but neither he nor Beth had sailed a square rigged ship before so this was a new experience. Beth is keen to get more experience sailing square riggers from here on.

Will, Rachael and Ken Honeysett. Photo: SMM.

Will, Rachael and Ken Honeysett. Photo: SMM.

Ken Honeysett decided he was interested in sailing on Endeavour and why not bring the kids? His two adult children, Rachael and Will, were keen to accompany Ken on board. Rachael and Will are students at the University of Wollongong.

Ken said that he saw Endeavour as a great opportunity – not just for the experience but also for a chance to spend some quality time with his children and for them all to experience the teamwork required to sail an 18th century square rig vessel.

Will described the last few days as an ‘all-encompassing voyage of adventure’. Sailing on Endeavour has well and truly created an interest in tall ships for Will and he says he’s planning to sign up to volunteer with the Sydney Heritage Fleet.

Rachael had been nervous about getting seasick but didn’t feel nauseous at all. She was signed on as a supernumerary and she’s correct when she says she had the best cabin on the ship – Joseph Banks’ cabin.

Endeavour returns to Sydney. Photo: EAP.

Endeavour returns to Sydney. Photo: EAP.

What’s next?

That’s all from the Endeavour crew for a little while now as the ship will be back alongside at the Maritime Museum until late October.

But please join us – either in person or by following this blog – for the voyage to Eden (27-31 October 2014) and the return Eden to Sydney trip (3-7 November 2014). We’ll have a whale expert on board, will take part in the national whale count and expect to fully enjoy the Eden whale festival!

Until then, fair winds.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

Celestial navigation and astronomy: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney, day 3-4

Noon sights and calculating latitude

In clear conditions with minimal swell, day 3 of HMB Endeavour replica’s voyage was perfect for using sextants to measure the angle of the sun at its zenith.

Voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the waist of the ship at 1115 to practice using sextants. The sun’s highest point – known as Meridian Passage – would be at 1145, not noon, due to the time of year and the ship’s longitude.

Third mate Penny and supernumerary Bill measure the angle of the sun at its zenith. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter.

Third mate Penny and supernumerary Bill measure the angle of the sun at its zenith. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter.

One of our supernumeraries, Bill Morris, ran this session along with Penny, the third mate. Bill is an expert on sextants – he has collected 65 nautical sextants and is the author of The Nautical Sextant. His interest in navigation began at a young age.

‘I bought a book called Teach Yourself Navigation when I was about 14,’ Bill said. ‘I had no sextant and no horizon but I taught myself the rudiments of coastal navigation.’

Sextant. Photo: EAP.

Sextant. Photo: EAP.

The specific interest in sextants arose when he and his wife visited the Maritime Museum in London on their honeymoon. He didn’t really get to indulge this interest until he retired, many years later and then living in New Zealand. He has since started to collect and repair broken sextants.

Bill crossed the Pacific on a container ship, the Natalie Schulte last year – a 19-day passage from Auckland, NZ to Oakland, USA. During the voyage he took several sights on celestial bodies each day to determine the ship’s latitude.

After lunch on day 3, Bill and the other interested voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the Great Cabin to do the calculations required to determine the ship’s latitude.

Calculating latitude in Endeavour's Great Ccabin.

Calculating latitude in Endeavour‘s Great Ccabin. Photo: SMM.

There’s something very special about gathering in the Great Cabin to do this kind of work. Spangled reflections from the sea played across the bulkhead from the great windows in the stern as Penny explained the process of calculating the latitude.

At a table just like this one, in a Great Cabin just like that of the Endeavour replica’s Great Cabin, Cook would have followed similar calculations and would have worked on the detailed charts of Australia’s east coast.

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Calculating latitude. Photo: SMM.

At that time, there would have been little margin for error as there were no pre-existing charts to work from and no other way of working out the ship’s position.

Keen to repeat their successes of the previous day, some of the voyage crew gathered again on day 4 to measure the altitude of the sun – this time at 1146 and 44 seconds. The sun’s highest point is a little later each day as it moves north until the summer solstice on December 21.

With a little more swell running on day 4, Endeavour was not quite the stable platform that she had been on day 3. My calculated latitude was out by more than I care to admit, but Bill’s calculated latitude was within three miles of our GPS position.

Day 4 at sea

Overnight on Friday (day 3) the ship gained ground to the south under engines, taking us past Pittwater. With the strong southerly breeze, we were able to turn around and go sailing on Saturday morning – just for fun!

Furling the forecourse. Photo: EAP.

Furling the forecourse. Photo: EAP.

We began furling* sails around 1500 while sailing towards the entrance of Broken Bay. Furling continued once the rest of the sails were handed and we were waiting for Fred Watson AM and his partner and colleague Marni to arrive in the ship’s seaboat for the evening’s astronomy talk.

HMB Endeavour dropped anchor at 1700 in Broken Bay and we prepared for the last evening of the voyage.

Astronomy

The highlights of the evening were two sessions delivered by Fred about what we could see in the night sky. In the first, the sun had just set and Marni kept a keen eye out for the first star of the evening, Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigal Kentaurus), which is one of the two pointers to the Southern Cross.

Observing Saturn from the deck of Endeavour. Photo: EAP.

Observing Saturn from the deck of Endeavour. Photo: EAP.

Telescopes were set up to have a closer look at Saturn – thankfully there was no wind so the anchorage was very calm and the ship was a stable base for using a telescope.

After dinner, voyage crew returned to the deck with Fred to look at the after-dark night sky – including the Southern Cross, sitting low to the horizon at this time of year.

All’s well.

*Furling is the process of rolling or gathering a sail and securing it with gaskets (lengths of line) so that the sail does not flap in the wind.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth

National Science Week at the Museum

National Science Week 2014 is fast approaching and it will be a week packed full of discovery, experiments and adventure for all ages. SO, if you seek to learn new things, try something different and above all, have a fantastic fun-filled time, then the museum is for you.

Open to all Apple users, (just present the Tag Town app at our front of house desk for entry): ‘Hide, Seek, Dive and Peek @Anmmuseum’ is on from 16th of August to the 19th of August.  Users can start playing “Tag Town” – a photographic scavenger hunt where pictures lead players, assisted by GPS, to discover real locations. Played in the real world via mobile app, players swipe through the image clues on their mobile device and when they find the location in the real-world, they snap and upload their own photo of it. Tag Town taps into the fun and creativity of photography and builds an expanding collection of shared photos of the local area’s most interesting features and locations.

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Black Sailors – Indigenous service in the navy during WWI?

Black Sailors on HMAS Geranium in 1926.  National Library of Australia

Black Sailors on HMAS Geranium in 1926. From an album compiled by crew member Petty Officer A A Smith. National Library of Australia nla.pic-an23607993

NAIDOC Week (celebrating National National Aborigines and Islanders Day) is held every second week in July. The NAIDOC theme for 2014 is ‘Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond.’ The theme honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.

While we are starting to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought as Black Diggers during World War I, what do we know of any Indigenous sailors?

The image above shows Aboriginal sailors on HMAS Geranium when it was conducting a mapping survey of waters across the north and west of Australia in 1926. They may well have been recruited for their intimate knowledge of the area. The title ‘Black Watch’ – while a reference to the famous Scottish regiment – may also refer to their role and skills in surveillance. Continue reading

Reading prayers at the bottom of the sea – The harrowing journey of submarine AE2

AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912

AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912

The first images of the interior of submarine AE2 were shown on ABC television on 3 July 2014 – almost 100 years since the vessel was scuttled in the Sea of Marmara on 30 April 1915.

While interest grows in what the wreck might reveal about the RAN submarine that was the first vessel to breach Turkish defences of the Dardanelles Strait, an account of the incredible voyage written by Stoker Petty Officer Henry James Elly Kinder sheds a human light on the story. Kinder’s account, a memoir written after he returned from several years in Turkish prison camps, has not been published.

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Univative at the museum!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Manager of Registration, Sally Fletcher, taking students through the collections

This year we were asked by Sydney University to be a host organisation for the Univative program, an inter-university consulting competition where students engage with real organisations and work in small teams to solve actual business problems. It offers students the chance to gain valuable experience and insights into an organisation, while practicing their skills in developing a creative business proposal and in research.

We are lucky enough to have three teams from the University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales and Sydney University working on our project called Citizen Science – audience participation or source of free labour? By way of background to this question: we are finding that museums and other scientific organisations are increasingly turning to citizens to assist in a range of projects and scientific research efforts, in a collaborative process called “citizen science”. Yet, how much should organisations be reliant on this form of (usually free) labour? In order to address this question we have asked the teams to:

  • Review what’s happening in the field
  • Undertake a SWOT analysis of the uses of citizen science in museums and like institutions
  • Identify up to four citizen science projects and write up as case examples
  • Identify opportunities, options and resource implications for the ANMM in embarking on a citizen science project

We met with the students yesterday morning, introduced them to the museum and the project and took them on both a collections tour and general museum tour to get a sense of who we are and what we’re about.

A panel of three staff will judge their reports at the end of July and award the winner so we’ll post the results from the successful team then.