Treasures of the American Collection

European, American and Australian ships used Hong Kong as a centre of trade in the 19th century. This painting depicts the American vessel S.R. BEARSE as it enters Hong Kong Harbour with fully rigged sails. ANMM Collection 00005647.

European, American and Australian ships used Hong Kong as a centre of trade in the 19th century. This painting depicts the American vessel S.R. BEARSE as it enters Hong Kong Harbour with fully rigged sails. ANMM Collection 00005647.

Where else can you see a President’s signature (Abraham Lincoln), a Queen’s signature (Victoria R), rare books and etchings, and a seventy-year-old gardenia in one place – but in the USA Gallery of the museum!

These are just a few of the objects from the multi-million dollar collection of paintings, models and artefacts we’ve compiled from the museum’s American collection to represent more than 200 years of the close maritime connection between the seafaring nations of the USA and Australia.

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The search for Endeavour – The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project and the Australian National Maritime Museum

The Australian National Maritime Museum's replica of HMB Endeavour. Image: ANMM.

The Australian National Maritime Museum’s replica of HMB Endeavour. Image: ANMM.

 

On 3 May 2016 Dr Kathy Abbass, Project Director from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), announced that, aided by a grant provided by the Australian National Maritime Museum and some previous research carried out by the museum’s Head of Research Dr Nigel Erskine, she had located a report by a Lieutenant John Knowles, the Agent for Transports at Newport, dated 12 September 1778 at the National Archives in London.

The Knowles report provided a breakdown of where a small fleet of troop transports had been sunk in Newport in August 1778. One of these transports was a 368-ton bark called the Lord Sandwich and it had been sunk, along with four other transports – the Earl of Orford, Yowart, Peggy and Mayflower – between the northern tip of Goat Island and the North Battery in Newport Harbor. Continue reading

Cook and Banks: Charting the rumoured great Southern Land

This lithographed is based on the drawings by Louisa Mundy, the wife of Colonel Godfrey Mundy. It was published in Colonel Mundy's 'Our Antipodes' in 1852. This work depicts Government House, Sydney, sitting high on a hill overlooking Farm Cove and Sydney Harbour. Image: ANMM Collection 00000889.

This lithographed is based on the drawings by Louisa Mundy, the wife of Colonel Godfrey Mundy. It was published in Colonel Mundy’s ‘Our Antipodes’ in 1852. This work depicts Government House, Sydney, sitting high on a hill overlooking Farm Cove and Sydney Harbour. Image: ANMM Collection 00000889.

To celebrate the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney 200th anniversary, the Australian National Maritime Museum and Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney will offering a joint video conference for year 3 and 4 students History and Science.

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Lost at Sea: Finding Longitude with Ships, Clocks & Stars

Ships, Clocks and Stars.

Ships, Clocks and Stars.

The problem of longitude – how to determine your location in an east-west direction at sea – plagued sea travel for centuries. The lack of reliable methods to determine it led to dangerous, long and costly voyages. The loss of cargo, ships and lives was high and demanded an immediate solution.

Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude commemorates the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act of 1714. The Act lead to the greatest scientific breakthrough in maritime history: the ability to determine a ship’s position at sea. This discovery brought together two solutions to calculate longitude: developing accurate timekeepers for seafaring and tracking the movement of celestial bodies.

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Cook and the ‘Swan of Litchfield’

Death announcement of Captain Cook in the London Gazette, 18 January, 1780 (source – British Library)

Death announcement of Captain Cook in the London Gazette, 18 January, 1780 (source – British Library)

When the news of Cook’s death reached London in 1780, it did not make front page news, but rather, was merely noted with a small announcement of a single paragraph. But public expressions of grief came, one being ‘Elegy on Captain Cook’ written by Anna Seward in 1780.

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Captain Cook, whisky and smallpox

crop of whole

‘The nips are getting bigger / I’d better go and get somethin’ harder’ by Karla Dickens.

In late 2015 the museum acquired an important artwork by Indigenous artist Karla Dickens.Titled ‘The nips are getting bigger / I’d better go and get somethin’ harder’, this collection of Captain-Cook-shaped whisky bottles has been usurped and turned into a commentary on the devastating influences of alcohol and disease on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since the arrival of Europeans in Australia.

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Governor Phillip’s ‘Portsmouth Gig’

This watercolour 'Ban nel long [Bennelong] meeting the Governor by appointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790' by The Port Jackson Painter shows Governor Arthur Phillip being rowed out to meet Bennelong to attempt a reconciliation after the Governor had been gravely wounded by a spear at Manly. Bennelong has his nawi (bark canoe) paddle raised. Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, UK.

This watercolour ‘Ban nel long [Bennelong] meeting the Governor by appointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790’ by The Port Jackson Painter shows Governor Arthur Phillip being rowed out to meet Bennelong to attempt a reconciliation after the governor had been gravely wounded by a spear at Manly. Bennelong has his nawi (bark canoe) paddle raised. Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, UK.

In January 1788, life for people in Sydney was transformed dramatically and forever. The first inkling of change was the appearance of two ship’s boats in the harbour. This was the advance party of the 11 ships anchored at Botany Bay, exploring what Captain Cook had called Port Jackson in 1770 as a better site for the establishment of a British colony. Little did the people of Sydney know what was to follow in the wake of these ship’s boats. Within 12 months a small bridgehead of British colonisation had taken hold around Warran, or Sydney Cove, and at least half the Indigenous population had died from disease, their bodies littering the foreshores of the harbour in May 1789.

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D’Urville and his navy of discovery

Astrolabe and Zelee in a gale, in the Antarctic Circle in January 1840. ANMM collection 00032388.

Astrolabe and Zelee in a gale, in the Antarctic Circle in January 1840. ANMM collection 00032388.

It is easy, when reading accounts of early European explorers, to see only the official version they leave behind. The naval reports, detailed charts and an imposing portrait of a confident man in an impressive uniform.

But often, dig just a little deeper and a different man emerges. A man with individual oddities, unsuspected sympathies, personal tragedies and constant worries. Such is the case with the French explorer Durmont d’Urville.

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Endeavour: Sydney to Geelong Voyage, days 8–9

Aloft on HMB Endeavour

A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Sydney to Geelong. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Day Eight, Thursday 4 February 2016

Our final night in open sea was a somewhat bouncy one as we ambled around south of Port Phillip Heads keeping away from other vessels, but generally making sure we were in position to advance to pilot meeting area on time in the morning. As we approached, the local population of dolphins turned out in force for a friendly welcome. The sea was a little too rough for boarding so the pilot boat escorted us until we were inside the Heads. Our pilot, Neil, boarded between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff and remained with us all the way to Geelong. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience of piloting a vessel so different from those of his daily round.

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Commemoration and contestation at Kurnell

1930 poster - the landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay 1770 Australia

1930 poster – the landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay 1770 Australia. ANMM Collection.

Last week was the 245th anniversary of the arrival of Captain James Cook and HMB Endeavour at Botany Bay, just south of Sydney. Cook and his crew spent 8 days here from 29 April 1770, their first landfall on the Australian coast.

The moment of Cook’s landing took on a great consequence for Australians ever since. For non-Indigenous Australians, from the 1820s Cook was seen as a far better set of origins than Captain Phillip and his boatloads of convicts in the First Fleet. Indeed it was Cook’s landing at Kurnell on the southern headland of Botany Bay that was the preferred moment of commemoration right through the 19th and well into the 20th century.

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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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Reliving Tasmania’s maritime heritage on Endeavour

The museum’s replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour will soon set sail for Tasmania, exploring the state’s convict past and reliving an era of great maritime exploration in Australia. Endeavour‘s professional crew will be joined by passengers who have signed up either as voyage crew—living, eating and sleeping just as pioneering sailors did almost 250 years ago—or for a more leisurely voyage as a supernumerary. Continue reading

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

Day 2-3: Voyage from Newcastle to Sydney; sailing to windward

Friday 19 September 2014, 2000 hours

Hours under sail since Thursday 0800: 23

Hours under engines since Thursday 0800: 13

Distance travelled over ground: 100 nautical miles

HMB Endeavour replica left Port Stephens early on Thursday 18 September, weighing anchor at 0530 and motoring out of the heads. On the open ocean, all hands were called to set sail and we headed southeast on a light sou’westerly breeze.

Foremast watch learns about staysails with the aid of Topman Eddie’s chalk diagrams on deck. Photo: Eden Alley-Porter

Foremast watch learns about staysails with the aid of Topman Eddie’s chalk diagrams on deck.
Photo: Eden Alley-Porter

Over the course of the day we tracked around 15 nautical miles south before the wind shifted and we began to lose ground to the north while continuing to head further offshore than planned.

We wore ship at 1800 hours and sailed west, steering as close to the wind as possible in the hope of gaining some ground to the south.

Around 2200 hours, the wind began to back, shifting further into the west as a land breeze influenced the southerlies. Endeavour’s course was soon northwest.

Spritsails set on Endeavour. Photo by SMM.

Endeavour spritsails set. Photo: SMM.

The flukey breezes led the Captain to decide that now would be a good time to hand sail and make some ground to the south under engines.

During 15 hours under sail on day 2 of the voyage, we covered 50 nautical miles, but also lost most of the ground we had gained to the south earlier in the day.

The difficulty of sailing the ship to windward always leads to the inevitable question: how on earth did Captain James Cook manage to sail her to windward?

Cook faced much the same problem sailing to windward as we do on Endeavour today. With more experienced hands and a larger crew, he may have been able to gain a little more ground to windward with careful trimming of the sails, but it would not have been substantial.

Cook’s key advantage was time: if needed, he could beat back and forth across a headwind until the wind shifted enough for him to gain the ground he needed.

Unfortunately the modern day Endeavour does not have this luxury – we have a schedule to stick to and thus engines must sometimes be called on to enable us to reach our destination on time. In this case, the destination is Pittwater to meet Fred Watson at 4pm on Saturday afternoon.

Despite our deadlines, the priority is of course to sail as much as possible, so after a night under engines we set sail again early on Friday morning.

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Calm seas and colourful skies: day 3 draws to a close. Photo by EAP.

In light breezes, more sail was loosed – the topgallants on both masts and the sprit topsail were shaken out of their furls and set. With a little more west in the wind we were able to sail southeast for most of the day.

By early evening the wind had dropped dramatically and once again Endeavour was unable to make ground to the south, so sails were handed and the ship settled in for another night under engines.

The hope is that we’ll gain substantial ground to the south overnight, enabling some good sailing on Saturday towards Broken Bay.

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth