Saturday, March 16, 2013


This post may take a little time to complete as I am now slowly going blind. Please bear with me if I make the occasional error. I will insert as many ships as possible and apply any immigrant details whenever found.
I suspect that the finishing date will be approximately February or March 2016 and any donations to this site would be much appreciated. Please donate as funds are needed to keep research and workload running. You do not need a PayPal account to use PayPal and it is totally safe to do so. To send funds via PayPal just use email if you would like to assist. Even a two dollar note or coin will be appreciated.

                   American Fleets
Many wonderful books have been written on America's many diverse fleets, the passenger services, the Grain fleets, the Fish trade, Guano, Coal, Timber you name it they have shipped it all over the world. They also had a large Whaling fleet that thankfully is now gone whilst the whales recuperate and get some of their numbers back.
I will try to cover every major event and will borrow heavily from newspaper clippings, shipping lists and from great Authors like Basil Lubbock whom I consider second to none in the world of sailing ships.

Chapter #1
This is perhaps one subject that will not go down well with many Americans but in reality, many convict ships brought their forebears to America especially during the years 1718 through 1776 where convicts were used alongside African slaves in the fields and plantations of the American mainland. The West Indies Plantations were used prior to 1718 as destinations for convicts. Black slavery was a product of the English during the years in which America was controlled by them But when the English had gone, slavery had to be picked up in the African trade so that the plantations could be better man powered.
It is intolerable that the records for the convict ships have mostly been destroyed but I have seen full lists of convicts among Australian records for both America and South African shipments. One American publication that purports to give such lists is;
The complete book of emigrants in bondage 1614-1775  [compiled by] Peter Wilson Coldham. This book [I believe] covers the American convict transportation only.

It is common knowledge that America has rid itself of it's convict background in an effort to look "clean" but this has made it difficult for those who wish to know their forefathers and believe me, America received it's fair share of convicts during the 1700's. The only worry with having a transported convict ancestor is finding your roots if the records have been destroyed, ask any Australian or South African, there is nothing to be ashamed of by having a convict ancestor. Somewhere in history it is likely that all families had their black sheep who were not particularly nice convict or not.

Slave Ships  
Chapter #2
As people will always do anything when there is money around, taking prisoners for use as slaves either legally or illegally and even in between, will be cause for concern in history, in the modern day and in the future. Listed below are a few of the vessels that transported slaves to America from the very early days up until the American civil war put paid to the open slavery trade.   
Adelaide [French Ship] 
Antelope [Spanish ship] 
Aurore [French Ship]
Duc Du Maine [French]Braunfisch [
Brandenburg ship]
Brookes [probably British or American ship]
La Amistad [ probably French]
City of Norfolk [American]
Clotilde [porobably American]
Cora [Perhaps British or American]"
Creole [American or British]
Desire [American]

Elizabeth [British]
Fredensborg [Danish Ship
Guerro [Spanish]
Hannibal [English]
Henrietta Marie [American?]
Hope [American Brig]
Jesus of Lubeck [rented to Captain Hawkins by Queen Elizabeth the first in 1564 for the West  Indies trade]
Kron Printxen [Danish ship]
Le Concord [became Queen Anne's Revenge as Pirate ship probably British]
Lord Ligonier [Probably French, used in Alex Haley's fiction "Roots".
Don Francisco [later named James Matthews, probably Spanish or American] 
Madre De Deus [Spanish or Portuguese]
Manuela [was originally the clipper Sunny South]
Margaret Scott [probably American]
Meermin [Dutch East India ship destroyed by Madagascar slaves]
Nightingale [American or British] 
Pons [American Bark]
Salamander [Brandenburg ship]
Sao Jose Paquete [Portuguese]
Sally [American vessel]
Tecora [Portuguese]
Trouyadore [perhaps Portuguese ship]
Wanderer[second to last slaver to the USA]
Wildfire [Probably an American Bark]
Whydah Gally [Probably British, later became a Pirate ship]
Zong [British slaver that threw her slaves overboard in chains in 1781] 

Chapter #3
Most of the ships I will mention or describe in this post will not have much more than a description due to the American registry being something that I am not too old to dig into. I can though place any incoming information on ships and any data on ships that I have not mentioned.
Early shipping to the Americas was of course handled by England, Spain, Germany, Holland and France with other nationalities joining in as America got into the mainstream.
It did not take them long to begin their own shipping lines and Navy and by Napoleonic times, were quite adept at their seaworthiness.
Early shipping lines were led by the Blackball Line followed by the Red Line and others. By this time, America had set it's sight on being the fastest with ships on  any ocean.

List of Shipping Lines
Black Ball Line.
Red Star Line.
Dramatic Line.
The Black X line.
The Black Star line
The Patriotic line
The Jewel line
White Diamond line 
The Philadelphia line
More to Come
                  AMERICAN CAPE HORNERS 

                  ISLAND TRADE

Chapter #4
 [Listed by year of construction] 
  copyright R.J.Warren 2011-2012 

At the end of the first half of the 19th century, the American ship building industry had begun to make its mark and some of the finest ship building in the world took place there at that time.

American ships proved to be faster and stronger than their British counterparts and England became a market place for American built ships. 

The new clipper shape and the extraordinary times taken by the America-England traders helped shape the second half of that century and gave the gold seekers and emigrants the speed they wished for their journeys. Below are listed a few of the better-known ships of America that were not listed in the Seven Seas Register of Tall Ships. 

The following vessels are listed in the year of their construction rather than alphabetically, except where there are two ships of the same name. I have listed these together to show the date and tonnage difference between them 

EMERALD’ Built 1822. Wood ship of 359 Tons. Length; 110 ft. Breadth; 27 ft. Depth; app17 ft. Built for the Jewel Line of Boston by Thatcher Magoun of Medford on the Mystic river. Master; Captain Philip Fox. 

‘COURIER’ Built 1842. Wood ship of 380 Tons. Built at Newburyport 

‘ASHBURTON’ Built 1842-3. Wood ship of 449 Tons. Length; app 155 ft. Breadth; app 31 ft. Depth; app 19.5 ft. Built at Newburyport. Master; Captain Henry Huttleston. 

‘ST GEORGE’ Built 1843. Wood ship of 845 Tons. Built at Newburyport as a Packet ship. She was the first ship of the American ‘Red Cross’ line and was built by Donald McKay and Pickett at Newburyport and also being one of the last ships he built there before going to Boston. This shipping line was also known as the ‘St Georges Cross’ line. 

‘JOHN R. SKIDDY’ Built 1844. Wood ship of 930 Tons. Built at Newburyport as a Packet ship. 

NEW WORLD’ Built 1846. Wood ship of 1400 Tons. Built for the SwallowTail Line by Donald McKay. Master; Captain William Skiddy.

‘OCEAN MONARCH’ Built 1848. Wood ship of app 1400 Tons. Built by Donald McKay at Boston as a Packet ship. 

‘TAM O’SHANTER’ I. Built 1849. Wood ship of 777 Tons. She was lost off Cape Cod in December 1853. Although her career was only twelve years, she proved a good money-spinner.

‘ANTARCTIC’ Built c1850. Wood packet ship of 850 Tons. Built for Zeriga and Co of New York by Donald Mackay. 

‘STAFFORDSHIRE’ Built 1851. Wood ship of 1817 Tons. Built by Donald McKay for Enoch Train and Co. Master; Captain Josiah Richardson. She was wrecked when bound for Liverpool on the 30th of December 1854. She ran onto Blonde Rock at Cape Sable in fog, she was washed back off the rock into deep water and she foundered. One hundred and seventy lives were lost including her captain.

‘WIZARD’ Built 1852. She was sold and renamed ‘Queen of the Colonies’ and operated on the Queensland run in the early 1860’s.She became famous in that state as a quarantined ship with fever aboard. She was sent to Caloundra about 100 miles north of Brisbane where she remained until the crisis was over. 

‘BALD EAGLE’ Built 1852. Wood ship of 1790 Tons. Built at Boston as a medium clipper. 

‘STAR OF EMPIRE’ Built 1853. Wood ship of 2050 Tons. Built by Donald McKay for the White Diamond line. She was a sister to ‘Chariot of Fame’ and both were used in the emigrant trade to Australia and New Zealand. 

‘DAVID CROCKETT’ Built 1853. Wood ship of 1679 Tons. Length; 218.8 ft. Breadth; 41 ft. Depth; 19.7 ft. Built by Greenman and Co of Stonnington Conn, for Handy and Everett. This vessel had a wonderful sailing career but an ignominious end. She was sold to F. L. Neall of Philadelphia and was turned into a schooner barge. In February 1899, she was wrecked while under the command of Captain B. G. Pendleton. 

‘CHARIOT OF FAME’ Built 1853. Wood ship of 2050 Tons. Built at Boston as a medium clipper.

‘EMPRESS OF THE SEAS I’ Built 1853. Wood ship of 2200 Tons. Built at Boston as a clipper. 

‘ROMANCE OF THE SEAS’ Built 1853. Wood ship of 1782 Tons. Built at Boston as a Clipper ship.

‘DREADNOUGHT’ Built 1854. Wood ship of 1400 Tons. Length; 200 ft. Breadth; 40.25 ft. Depth; 26 ft. Built at Newburyport for the Red Cross Line. They had her built for their best Master; Captain Samuel Samuels. She was one of the elite carriers between England and America. She was transferred to the ‘Downeaster’ trade late in her life and she became a victim of Cape Horn when she went ashore on Tierra Del Fuego in 1869. This event happened in calm seas due to a dropping off of the winds, leaving the vessel helpless in an area and coast from which she could not be saved.

‘DEFENDER’ Built 1855. Wood ship of 1413 Tons. Length; app 180 ft. Breadth; app 33 ft. Depth; app 21 ft. Built at Boston as a medium clipper. 

‘ABBOT LAWRENCE’ Built 1855. Wood ship of app 1400 Tons. Length; app 160 ft. Breadth; app 36 ft. Depth; app 21 ft. Built at Boston as a medium clipper.

‘MASTIFF’ Built 1856. Wood ship of 1035 Tons. Built at Boston as a Medium clipper ship.

‘MINNEHAHA’ Built 1856. Wood ship of 1698 Tons. Length: approx. 198 ft. Breadth: approx. 36 ft. Depth: approx. 23 ft. Built at Boston as a medium clipper.

‘CHARGER’ Built 1856.Wood ship that was wrecked in the Philippines in 1873. She was a typical ship of the period and for 17 years she proved to be a good steady worker.

‘ALHAMBRA’ Built 1859.Wood ship of 1243 Tons. Length; 177.5 ft. Breadth; 33.4 ft. Depth; 25.0 ft. Built at Boston as a medium clipper. 

‘GENERAL McLELLAN’ Built 1862. Wood ship of 1583 Tons. Length; 191 ft. Breadth; 39.3 ft. Depth; 28.6 ft. Built at Thomaston for J.W. Elwell. This ship gained a reputation of being one of the tidiest ships around and many people came to see her in ports around the world. 

‘SEMINOLE’ Built 1865. Wood ship of 1442 Tons. Length; 196.5 ft. Breadth; 41.6 ft. Depth; 25 ft. Built by Maxton and Fish, at Mystic Connetticut , for A.M.Simpson. She was a very pacey clipper and held some good times to her credit while running the ‘Horn 

‘ONIEDA’ Built 1866. Wood ship of 1180 Tons. Length; 186 ft. Breadth; 36 ft. Depth; 23 ft. Built by M.Packard for L.Sloss. Master; Oscar G. Eaton

‘YOSEMITE’ Built 1868. Wood ship of 1104 Tons. Length; 183 ft. Breadth; 37.2 ft. Depth; 23.5 ft. Built at Portsmouth, USA, for Samuel Blair

 ‘SOUTHERN CROSS’ Built 1868. Wood ship of 1086 Tons. Length; 176.8 ft. Breadth; 37.5 ft. Depth; 23.3 ft. Built at Boston for A. H. Brown.

‘ST LUCIE’ Built 1868. Wood ship of 1263 Tons. Length; 194.4 ft. Breadth; 37.4 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built at Bath for I.F.Chapman. She was the second ship named for a saint by her owners who continued the tradition for several more vessels.

‘PRUSSIA’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1212 Tons. Length; 184.2 ft. Breadth; 36.5 ft. Depth; 23.9 ft. Built at Bath for the Houghton Bothers.

‘ST NICHOLAS’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1799 Tons. Length; 206.9 ft. Breadth; 42.8 ft. Depth; 29 ft. Built by Chapman and Flint for Flint and Co. Master; Captain Joy. This captain received an award from the British for the rescue of the crew of the Bark ‘Lennox’ which caught fire at sea with a coal cargo in 1882.
 [Timber Drogue]

‘UNDAUNTED’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1764 Tons. Length; 207.3 ft. Breadth; 41.1 ft. Depth; 27.8 ft. Built by A.E.Sewall For themselves. She was sold to J.E.Stafford in the early 1890’s.

‘CORA’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1491 Tons. Length; 200.2 ft. Breadth; 39 ft. Depth; 23 ft. Built at Belfast, Maine, for W.H.Burrell.

‘ENOS SOULE’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1518 Tons. Length; 198.4 ft. Breadth; 38.1 ft. Depth; 18.5 ft. Built at Freeport, Maine, for Enos Soule.

‘JOHN BRYCE’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1968 Tons. Length; 217 ft. Breadth; 42.2 ft. Depth; 21.7 ft. Built at Thomaston for E.O’Brien.

‘IMPERIAL’ Built 1869. Wood ship of 1331 Tons. Length; 188.7 ft. Breadth; 38 ft. Depth; 23.5 ft. Built at Quincy, Mass, for J.E.Crosby.

‘JOHN C. POTTER’ Built 1869. Wood ship. Length; 216.3 ft. Breadth; 36 ft. Depth; 23 ft. Built by M.Packard for Charles Nelson. Master; Henry G. Curtis.

‘ST JOHN’ Built 1870. Wood ship of 1885 Tons. Length; 216.3 ft. Breadth; 42.7 ft. Depth; 20.4 ft. Built at Bath for J.F.Chapman. Master; Captain J.F.Chapman.

‘CARRIE REED’ Built 1870. Wood ship of 1352 Tons. Length; 193.8 ft. Breadth; 39.4 ft. Depth; 24.9 ft. Built by W. Thompson for themselves and launched at Kennebunkport. .She was sold to the Germans in 1876 and who renamed her ‘Gustave und Oscar’, they sold her to the Chileans and they renamed her ‘Adela’ and she ended her career with that flag.

‘MATCHLESS’ Built 1870. Wood ship of 1198 Tons. Length; app 187 ft. Breadth; app 36 ft. Depth; app 24 ft. Built by Curtis, Smith and Co for James H.Dawes.

‘INDEPENDENCE’ Built 1871. Wood ship of 952 Tons. Length; 165.6 ft. Breadth; 34.2 ft. Depth; 22.9 ft. Built at Boston for Hemingway and Browne. Master; Captain Johnson. This captain had his ship at Peru when a tidal wave struck and the captain’s wife son and two daughters were all drowned. He is said to have turned grey at the shock of his loss.

‘SEA WITCH’ Built 1872. Wood ship of 1288 Tons. Length; 197 ft. Breadth; 37 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built at East Boston for E. Lawrence.

‘CORONDELET’ Built 1872. Wood ship of 1450 Tons. Length; 198.2 ft. Breadth; 40.5 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built at Newcastle, Maine, for Cyrus Walker. She ended her days as a Towing barge at Seattle, Washington and was still there in 1910.

‘TRIUMPHANT’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 2046 Tons. Length; 234.5 ft. Breadth; 43 ft. Depth; 19.1 ft. Built at Quincy, Mass, for Thayes and Lincoln. She was a fast downeaster that went off the register in 1899.

‘EL CAPITAN’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1494 Tons. Length; 205.3 ft. Breadth; 37.2 ft. Depth; 25.5 ft. Built by E and A. Sewall and Co for themselves. She was later owned by De Groot and Peck. Master; Captain Humphrey. This vessel had crew problems when nine of them became ‘Moon blind’, a condition that seemed to be caused by sleeping under the rays of a full moon. In daylight, the men could see perfectly but at night, they could barely see at all. It was said that after a week their eyes became swollen and inflamed with stye like growths appearing on the eyelids.

NORTHERN LIGHT’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1795 Tons. Length; 219.7 ft. Breadth; 43.1 ft. Depth; 19 ft. Built at Quincy, Mass, for William Pickney. She was sold to the Norwegians and renamed ‘Mathilde’ to end her days as an oil carrier

‘NEARCHUS’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1315 Tons. Length; 199.1 ft. Breadth; 37.4 ft. Depth; 24.2 ft. Built by J Currier. She was sold to the Germans about 1890.

 ‘INVINCIBLE’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1460Tons. Length; 202.4 ft. Breadth; 40 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built at Bath and owned by C.S.Holmes.

‘LOUISIANA’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1436 Tons. Length; 202.4 ft. Breadth; 40 ft. Depth; 24.4 ft. Built at Bath, USA, for Houghton Brothers. Master; Norman Dunbar.

‘NORTH AMERICAN’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1583 Tons. Length; 219.6 ft. Breadth; 41 ft. Depth; 24.5 ft. Built at East Boston for M.Hastings.

‘GRANDEE’ Built 1873. Wood ship of 1295 Tons. Length; 193.6 ft. Breadth; 38.5 ft. Depth;23.8 ft. Built at Portsmouth, USA. She was sold to C.H.Mendum and was owned by that firm in 1889.She survived a run in with an iceberg while bound for Melbourne, Victoria. She had her Jibboom torn off and Cutwater and false stem torn away but no other damage was done after the head on collision which gave her an extra load of about ten tons of ice.

‘RODERICK DHU’ Built 1873. Iron ship of 1534 Tons. Length; 257.1 ft. Breadth; 40.2 ft. Depth; 22.8 ft. Built by Mounsey and Foster for the Matson Navigation Company.

‘WAIKATO’ Built 1874. Iron ship of 1007 Tons. Length; 210.5 ft. Breadth; 34.1 ft. Depth; 19.2 ft. Built by in England. She was sold to the Germans who renamed her  'J C Phluger' and then resold to be renamed ‘Coronado’ by the Americans. 

‘SPARTAN’ Built 1874. Wood ship of 1449 Tons. Length; 206.6 ft. Breadth; 42.1 ft. Depth; 24.3 ft. Built by R.E.Jackson for Commodore T.H.Allen and Henry Sears of Boston Captain Isaac N Jackson also bought shares in the ship and he left the ‘Great Admiral’ to take command of her.. She was sold to Henry Cairns in 1878 and he later sold her to P.B.Cornwall of San Francisco. Her master at the time of her Pacific Coast work was Captain Polite. She was stranded in the Hawaiian Islands in 1905.

‘CHARGER’ Built 1874. Wood ship of 1444 Tons. Length; 203.2 ft. Breadth; 39.8 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by Smith and Townsend for H.Hasting and Co. Master; Captain Henry Merritt. She was sold to the Germans and renamed ‘Louise’ they resold her to do fishery work in Alaska and she got her old name back. She foundered in Karta Bay, Alaska in October 1909.

‘SARATOGA’ Built 1874. Wood ship of 1449 Tons. Length; 207.6 ft. Breadth; 39.2 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by Pennell. She was sold to S.R.Ulmer and was still owned by them in 1889.

‘HIGHLAND LIGHT’ Built 1874. Wood ship of 1314 Tons. Length; 194.9 ft. Breadth; 38.1 ft. Depth; 24.3 ft. Built at Bath and sold to R.C.Byxbee. They owned her in 1889.

‘TAM O’SHANTER’ II. Built 1875. Wood ship of 1603 Tons. Length; 229.9 ft. Breadth; 41.7 ft. Depth; 24.3 ft. Built by E.C.Soule for themselves. Master; Captain Peabody then Captain Waite. This ship gave the ‘Shenandoah’ a beating that earned her captain 2000 dollars in a bet with his rival captain. ‘Tammy’ won by just three hours on that voyage.

‘HARVESTER’ Built 1875. Wood ship of 1494 Tons. Length; 210.1 ft. Breadth; 39.7 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by R.A Sewall for themselves. She was sold to A.P.Lorentzen and was still owned by them in 1894.

‘OREGON’ Built 1875. Wood ship of 1431 Tons. Length; 205.6 ft. Breadth; 30.9 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by W. Rogers at Bath for W.E.Mighell.

‘BOHEMIA’ Built 1875. Wood ship of 1633 Tons. Length; 221.7 ft. Breadth; 40.2 ft. Depth; 25.5 ft. Built at Bath for H.L Houghton. She was sold to the Los Angeles Movie Fleet along with he ships ‘Santa Clara’, ‘LlewellynJ Morse’ and ‘Indiana’ Master; Captain Trask.

‘CONTINENTAL’ Built 1875. Wood ship of 1712 Tons. Length; 220 ft. Breadth; 42.2 ft. Depth; 25.1 ft. Built at Bath for A.C.Peck.

‘REAPER’ Built 1876. Wood ship of 1407 Tons. Length; 211.6 ft. Breadth; 39.2 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by A.Sewall for themselves. Sewall and Co were long respected as both builders and owners in a tough industry.

‘BELLE OF OREGON’ Built 1876. Wood ship of 1169 Tons. Length; 185.6 ft. Breadth; 38 ft. Depth; 22.5 ft. Built by Goss and Sawyer . She was sold to W.H.Bease and was owned by him in 1894.

‘ARCHER’ Built 1876. Iron ship of 900 Tons. Length; 189.1 ft. Breadth; 32 ft. Depth; 18.7 ft. Built by R.Thompson and Co. Owned by Welch and Co of the USA.

‘THURLAND CASTLE’ Built 1876. Iron ship of 1306 Tons. Length; 226.1 ft. Breadth; 34.8 ft. Depth; 21.5 ft. Built by Harland and Wolf at Belfast for C.Brewer and Co. She was sold and renamed ‘Iolani’ for her later career.

‘SOUTH AMERICAN’ Built 1876. Wood ship of 1762 Tons. Length; 227.5 ft. Breadth; 41.6 ft. Depth; 25.2 ft. Built at Boston for H.Hastings.

‘WANDERING JEW’ Built 1877. Wood ship of 1737 Tons. Length; 219.2 ft. Breadth; 40 ft. Depth; 29 ft. Built by J.Pascal and Camden for Carleton, Norwood and Co.

‘PANAY’ Built 1877. Wood ship of 1190 Tons. Length; 186.7 ft. Breadth; 37 ft. Depth; 23.5 ft. Built at Boston for George Allen.

‘PARAMITA’ Built 1877. Wood ship of 1583 Tons. Length; 216.6 ft. Breadth; 41.3 ft. Depth; 23.1 ft. Built E.C.Soule and Co at Freeport, Maine. Owned by E.C.Soule. Master; Captain H.E Soule Reg; Portland, Maine.

‘PALESTINE’ Built 1877. Wood ship of 1469 Tons. Length; 209.6 ft. Breadth; 40 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built at Bath for Samuel Blair.

‘SEA KING’ Built 1877. Wood ship of 1492 Tons. Length; 210.6 ft. Breadth; 39.4 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by G.H.Theobald. Sold to W.E.Mighell and was owned by him in 1894.

‘RED CLOUD’. Built 1878. Wood ship of 2058 Tons. Length; 230.5 ft. Breadth; 43.2 ft. Depth; 21.2 ft. Built by G.Thomas for themselves.

‘YORKTOWN’ Built 1878. Wood ship of 1955 Tons. Length; 227 ft. Breadth; 40.5 ft. Depth; 20 ft. Built at Richmond for J.A.Delap.

‘PARAMITA’ Built 1879. Wood ship of 1573 Tons. Length; 216.6 ft. Breadth; 41.3 ft. Depth; 23.1 ft. Built by E.C.Soule for themselves.

‘GEORGE STETSON’ Built 1880.Wood ship of 1845 Tons. Length; 232.9 ft. Breadth; 41.3 ft. Depth; 26.3 ft. Built by A.Hathorne for W.S.Higgins. Bought by Enos Soule and Co of Freeport, Maine. Registered; Portland Maine. Master; Captain H.E.Soule.

‘GLENDON’ Built 1880. Wood ship of 1896 Tons. Length; 235.5 ft. Breadth; 40.6 ft. Depth; 28.4 ft. Built at Kennebunk, Maine, for George W.Rice.

‘IROQUOIS’ Built 1881. Wood ship of 2121 Tons. Length; 239.1 ft. Breadth; 43.6 ft. Depth; 27.9 ft. Built by A Sewall for A.Sewall and Co.

‘LUZON’ Built 1881. Wood ship of 1391 Tons. Length; 205.8 ft. Breadth; 40.7 ft. Depth; 24 ft. Built by Smith and Townsend for De Groot and Peck.

‘TACOMA’ Built 1881. Wood ship of 1739 Tons. Length; 222.2 ft. Breadth; 41 ft. Depth; 26 ft. Built by Goss and Sawyer for C. Davenport.

‘ARABIA’ Built 1881. Wood ship of 2080 Tons. Length; 233.9 ft. Breadth; 43.2 ft. Depth; 27.7 ft. Built at Newport, USA, for Houghton Bothers.

‘BERLIN’ Built 1882. Wood ship of 1634 Tons. Length; 222.5 ft. Breadth; 40 ft. Depth; 24.6 ft. Built at Phippsburg, Maine, for C.V.Minott. 

‘MARION CHILCOTT’ ex ‘Kilbranan’ Built 1882. Iron ship of1738 Tons. Length; 256.4 ft. Breadth; 38.2 ft. Depth; 22.8 ft. Built by Russell and Co. Bought by Matson and Co

‘KENNEBEC’ Built 1883. Wood ship of 2127 Tons. Length; 237.7 ft. Breadth; 43.3 ft. Depth; 27.3 ft. Built by W.Rogers for W.A.Boole.

ST CHARLES’ Built 1883. Wood ship of 1749 Tons. Length; 225.2 ft. Breadth; 41.6 ft. Depth; 16.8 ft. Built at Phippsburg, Maine for C.V.Minott.

‘SANTIAGO’ Built 1885. Iron ship of 979 Tons. Length; 207.6 ft. Breadth; 33.1 ft. Depth; 20 ft. Built by Harland and Wolf at Belfast, Ireland. Bought by Matson Nav, Company.

‘ANDREW WELCH’ Built 1888. Iron ship of 903 Tons. Length; 185.6 ft. Breadth;36.1 ft. Depth; 18.5 ft. Built by Russell and Co for the Matson Navigation Company.

‘ST KATHERINE’ Built 1890. Wood ship of 1264 Tons. Length; 202.8 ft. Breadth; 39.3 ft. Depth; 19.1 ft. Built by J.McDonald at Bath, Maine for Flint and Co. Reg; New York. Master; Captain F.E.Frazier. She was sold to a Salmon packing company of San Francisco and they used her until she was broken up. Owned by Welch of San Francisco and sold to Captain Matson along with several other ships from the same fleet. This took place in 1908 and they became regulars in the Hawaiian trade from San Francisco. [Timber Drogue and Cannery Ship]

‘HELEN BREWER’ Built 1891. Steel ship of 1582 Tons. Length; 247.7 ft. Breadth; 38.9 ft. Depth; 22.5 ft. Built by R.Duncan and Co for C.Brewer and Co.

‘DURBRIDGE’ Built 1892. Steel ship of 2121 Tons. Length; 276.8 ft. Breadth; 42 ft. Depth; 24.2 ft. Built by W.Hamilton and Co. Bought by the Alaska Packers and renamed ‘Star of Falkland’. She sailed on for a few more years under that flag. 

‘OLYMPIC’ Built 1892. Wood ship of 1402 Tons. Length; 224.4 ft. Breadth; 42.1 ft. Depth; 21.3 ft. Built by the New England Ship Building Company for W.H.Besse.

‘HOLLISWOOD’ Built 1893. Wood ship of 1141 Tons. Length; 176 ft. Breadth; 38 ft. Depth; 19.5 ft. Built by J. M. Brooks for E. M. Knight of New York.

‘’EDWARD SEWALL’ Built 1899. Wood ship of 3206 Tons. Length; 332 ft. Breadth; 45.3 ft. Depth; 25.5 ft. Built by A.Sewall for A.Sewall and Co.

‘ASTRAL’ Built 1900. Wood ship of 3262 Tons. Length; 332.3 ft. Breadth; 45.4 ft. Depth; 26 ft. Built by A.Sewall for A.Sewall and Co.

‘ATLAS’ Built 1902. Wood ship of 3381 Tons. Length; 332.4 ft. Breadth; 45.4 ft. Depth; 26.1 ft. Built by A.Sewall for the Standard Oil Company.

The Americans were extremely constructive in their business dealings once the American civil war had ended. Soon they were trading all over the world with the much sought after softwoods of that country. The ‘round the Horn’ trade, was perhaps the most hazardous of all sailing ship voyages. It caused many ships to disappear without trace and Captains were forced to shanghai sailors or even landsmen during the goldrush days. Many a drunken free spirit awoke from his inn-ebriated slumber, to find himself on the high seas, headed for the dreaded Cape. It is said that even a vicar was once belted over the head with a belaying pin while headed home one night. He too, spent the next few months up in the rigging. Shipwrecks were a common item around Cape Horn. Staten Island and Tierra del Fuego bore silent witness to many vessels that were lost on their cold and lonely shores.

Monday, May 28, 2012


                          COLONIAL TALL SHIPS. 

Copyright Raymond J Warren 2012

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This historic work is a unique compilation of the great sailing ships that sailed the world’s oceans from the 15th to the 20th century. It has taken some thirty years to complete and is only now in it's final edit stages.

Enriched by many wonderful tales from the period, it is unique in that it has combined files stored by Lloyds Register, newspaper articles, advertisements and personal diaries from throughout the colonies. Included are many enjoyable tales from those intrepid sea folk and pioneers, who traveled abroad in tall ships.

The Warren Register is centered on those vessels that played an important role in Australia and New Zealand.xs colonial history. Many tall ships are also listed, that were not so well known but never the less, transported people and stores to Australia and New Zealand.

The Register offers the family researcher a more comprehensive work that will is a source of information, not only for famous vessels, but also for the lesser known ships, that brought our ancestors to their new lands. Major focus has been placed upon shipping that had a role to play in the settlement of Australia and New Zealand. Albeit oceanic protector, coastal protector, convict ship, passenger liner or cargo carrier.

There has been no attempt to enter the domain of the professional historian in regard to specialized information on Naval battles or vessels, only data on those vessels that had a direct or in some cases, a little indirect influence on the colonies, have been recorded.

The Warren Register, covers the period beginning with the rise of British naval strength [from about 1500 AD] to the final grain carrier leaving Australia in 1949. The colonial period for Australian and New Zealand bound sailing ships, is of course dated from 1768, to about 1950.

Ships that assisted in the settlement of Australia and New Zealand, including shipboard tales and historic events, dominate the Register. American, African and French Pacific convict settlements or the history of how convicts established those areas, are not included in this colonial work.

Convict Register:
A full and concise work is included herewith, on the 80-year period between 1788 and 1868, for those vessels that were involved in the transportation of people and supplies to the new settlements. Included also, is a small number of convict lists for a selection of vessels that were used as transports.

A section covers the early Battle frigates and Coastal protectors that were important to the colonies and their citizens. These though, are only touched upon as an added enjoyment to the reader, for many wonderful books have been written on the old fighting ships and their heroic deeds.

The colonization of Africa, America, Australia and New Zealand by British stock, is
the result of the English ability to control the worlds oceans. Although other countries did organise their own colonies throughout the world, nothing compared to the empire that Great Britain created.

To many people, Australia stands out as, ‘The’ country that was settled by convicts, the fact is that without convicts; none of the world’s colonies [including America] would have been started. Africa and America, were the main areas for transportation of convicts before the East Coast of Australia was claimed by Captain Cook in 1768, the Americans later rebelled for economic reasons and formed their own nation.

Young men and women from all parts of Great Britain were sent to Australia, where they began new lives in a new country. Boys and girls as young as twelve years, were transported for petty crimes that ranged from the theft of a piece of bread, a handkerchief or stealing a shaving brush from a stable. There were of course, those who committed the worst possible crimes included among them but those who did murder usually ended their days upon the gallows.
Britain, needed a base in the Southern latitudes, so once Australia was seen as a military and naval base that would easily control the South Pacific, England was quick to establish ownership over the great south land, this was done just in advance of French explorers.

Britain’s loss of the American colonies was due purely the political problems of the time. She would not have lost their loyalty had the circumstances been different. The same problems almost arose in Australia during the time of the Eureka Stockade.

Whilst this work has not covered every passenger and cargo vessel that ever sailed upon the worlds oceans, It does try to include the more notable and as many of the not so notable ships as could be found. One should remember that many smaller vessels such as brigantines, schooners, snows and even cutters, were able to sail to Australia quite easily and many families settled for a little more comfort on a small vessel, than the crowded conditions aboard the larger sailing ships. Some Cape Horners have also been included perhaps because of their ability to sail through such powerful seas and also because many of these American ships were bought by the English for use in Australia building.

If perchance, the researcher is unable to find the vessel on which his forebears arrived, it is likely that they came by one of the smaller vessels that were not recorded. These vessels could be as small as a cutter or as large as a Brigantine. After the Suez Canal opened in 1869, steamers and auxiliaries were able to make the journey in much faster time. When steamships arrived upon the scene, the extremes of cold in the southern latitudes were avoided and sea voyaging improved.

Soon even small paddle steamers were making the voyage and as the wealth of the new nation began to trickle back to England, so the emigrant flow to the colonies, became a flood. Although the age of sail had been upstaged by steam and then oil. People still are and perhaps always will be attracted to that wonderful era, when only the thump of wave against hull, winds high in the rigging and the slap of canvas could be heard. Especially whilst it was only these wonderful tall ships, that sailed the worlds oceans.

It is hoped that the Warren Encyclopedic Register of Colonial Tall Ships will ultimately be seen as a very handy work for those who need to know.
May you all enjoy the histories contained herein.
Raymond J Warren.
Tall Ship Historian.

Using the Warren Register is a simple act to accomplish. Simply click on ‘Edit’ at the top of the page and click again on ‘Find’. This will bring up the ‘Find’ box perhaps at bottom left. Type in the name of the ship or subject required and in an instant you will be transported to your destination. You may find that your ship is mentioned more than once and in that case, keep going until your ship is written in capitals with the year of its construction alongside. If you are seeking a particular year of arrival for a convict ship, keep clicking on ‘Find Next’ until you arrive at the correct subject material.

                                 THE SILENT GREEN  
By Raymond J. Warren.

My own experiences at sea, have come from perhaps today’s most rugged sea-going work, the humble fish trade. During the late 1960’s, I found my way to Western Australia and joined the Cray fishing [Lobster] fleet at the small coastal town of Geraldton on the central coast of that state. I have recorded my experiences and hope that those who have served aboard any Australian fishing vessel, will be able to find some brotherly sympathy for a would be fisherman and sailor.

Chapter 1 
From dust to spindrift. 
 Whilst still in my early twenties and working amid clouds of dust and flies in the West Australian bush, I decided that it had to be much better and cooler work aboard a fishing boat and so I headed for the deep blue briny to tackle life at sea. Having left my position as a Jackaroo on a central Western Australian sheep station, I arrived at the small town and fishing port of Geraldton, Western Australia at the beginning of the red Crayfish season of 1968.

Almost immediately I began searching for a position as deckhand on one of the local crayfish [lobster] boats. The passage of time has dispersed from memory the exact date I arrived in that quiet little town but it was at the beginning of the red [coastal] crayfish season while most of the cray boats were undergoing their usual clean up and repair work during the lull between seasons.

 It appears that the Crayfish change their color at different times of the year, perhaps due to shell growth or maybe it’s the color they choose for the coastal reef sojourn. At any rate, they're color was an already-cooked deep red and that is all to be said on that point. Months later, while taking off for deeper waters at the end of the red season, they change their shell color to a pinkish white and maybe the deeper waters have something to do with that. 

I had recently been employed on a desert sheep station and after the dust and flies of the Western Australian outback, I was certainly looking for something a little cooler and different to do. On my first day in town, I spent some hours marching along the waterfront past fishing vessels laden with what seemed to be wooden cages with pieces of railway line tied inside them. Ropes and floats were neatly bundled on top of each of these contraptions, so I assumed rightly, that these were what were used to capture hungry Crayfish.

 I had been born and raised in the mining town of Broken Hill, NSW and had little time or experience in, around or with the sea, except for the Christmas holidays. In those years, we spent an ideal two weeks splashing about at Adelaide [South Australia] beaches. Any boating was usually restricted to floating around in a rubber dinghy near the little river town of Menindee on the Darling River. This though, only happened on very rare occasions when our father decided to go fishing for Murray Cod.

I had always dreamed of going to sea as do most young lads who fancy watery excitement. Why, had I not spent my first walking years, strutting around in a Popeye the Sailor suit? I was ready to give a sea-going career a go, I was 23 years old and just crazy enough to think that a life at sea would be easy and much less skin destroying than the bush. Why, if the sun got too warm, you could just slide over the side of the boat and enjoy a leisurely swim for an hour or two and who cared if there were countless fathoms [and countless sharks] beneath your feet.

All round the little seaside town of Geraldton, with its rocky man-made-harbor wall, sounds of hammering and the intermittent flash of brilliant blue light that came from portable welders, gave one the feeling that the fishermen were gearing up for a heavy season of plenty.

After perhaps two hours asking and wandering among the many fishing boats, I eventually found myself directed toward a vessel that turned out to be a thirty six foot Catamaran. The vessel appeared to look very much like a pair of Dutch wooden shoes with wooden planks holding them together and it sat almost completely ashore whilst its owner pottered about the two hulls. 

I had never seen such a weird looking vessel [except while making little wooden rafts out of icy-pole sticks as a child]. After stepping over and around tools, boxes and buckets, I was able to broach the owner of this enterprise while he was dabbing red paint onto one of the two steel hulls of his very strange looking craft.

When I first arrived in Geraldton, I was told that it would be very hard to find work as a deckhand or for that matter, any work at all to do with the fishing industry. Each vessel had its regular crew and they did not like having to train new men during the coastal season. Time always seemed to be the problem, for work was hard and was done just as quickly as the sea and weather would allow.

Taking a very deep breath, I introduced myself to the big Australian [whom I was later to find was of very Irish extract] and told him that I had come in from the bush and although I did not know much about being a deckhand, I was strong and an extremely good worker. I told him that he would not regret hiring me, especially if, [as I had been told] he had a position available. 

The man looked me up and down as if I were somewhat mad, there seemed to be a kind of quizzical look in his eyes [his name was Kelly] and I could not quite make out what his eyes were saying or just what was going on in them. But then a flicker of a grin touched at the corners of his mouth, it was as if he had realized that a joke had been played on him. Suddenly, he turned away and after a moment with his back still toward me said, “Yeah, okay, your hired, be here tomorrow at 6am to help me get this boat ready”. He then strode away with a stray sand fly trailing like a dutiful sucker fish, behind him. 

Up early the following morning, I sat waiting at the beach where the Catamaran lay with its dual bows still perched on the sand like a cat awaiting its breakfast. I watched the sun rise  while I slowly counted my lucky stars at having found a job so quickly. Then finally, at about 6am, the skipper arrived and my anticipation was relieved..

Some months later I would realize why the job was so easily found, one thing I did notice about this man was that he was always very quiet when on land. He did not say much to me nor I to him, other than to ask the odd question as to where should I put this or where would I find that and he certainly spoke even less to other men involved in fishing..

Kelly had purchased some drums of foul smelling chemicals and was engaged in preparing some kind of mixture which when combined, had to be poured hurriedly into each hull. This seemed very strange to me, why was he trying to sink the damned thing before we even got it back in the water? 

After a few hours of making guesses at just what we were achieving, he suddenly burst out and told me that “These hulls are going to be unsinkable with this stuff inside them!” He then told me that the chemicals were hardening into a type of Polystyrene, the same type of material that the cray boats used for the bowling ball sized floats that were used to hold the ropes that were connected to the crayfish pots. 

This of course should have sent warning messages to me, why the hell was he worried about
making his boat unsinkable, why such cautious preparations to save from sinking his boat? Where would we be sailing that could or would cause such concern while pulling up cray pots from the deep?

After two more days of maintenance work that lasted from the early hours of the morning to late into the evening, the repairs and additions were gradually overcome and we were ready to go to sea. 

This was the moment I had been waiting for and the closer we came to leaving on our first day of fishing, the more excited I became. One thing I should have noted was that there was no sunshade on the Cat and any bushman will tell you that it is always best to have something around to keep the sun off.

Kelly [my skipper] had been a policeman in his younger years but he did not appear to have the proper authoritative strength required for that line of work, he hardly spoke to anyone at all. But he was a very good worker when it came to manual labor and it was not long before we were off to give the vessel a tryout. She had been given an engine overhaul on the twin Perkins diesels and she needed a good test run for the grueling workdays ahead.

We spent perhaps an hour getting clear of the little harbor and out onto a bowling green flat sea that made me feel like we were sailing on glass except for a slight nudge occasionally to left or right from a small rogue wave or two. This tended to give one the suggestion that the Catamaran was somewhat feminine in the way she wiggled her hips as she danced this way and that across the swell. 

Suddenly I realized why sailors have always referred to their vessels as “She”, this realization made me feel that I had suddenly become one with all those who had gone to sea before me. Oh what a chest full of pride I had, here was I, a desert nomad who had found his sea legs and without the slightest touch of sea sickness!

Heading South
The following morning, we set out with our many cray pots stacked high on the deck of our pot carrier which Kelly conveniently named “It”. If ‘It’ could have been a bit longer, "It" would have passed for a ‘Palais de Dans’ floor. The Catamaran was about 36 feet long with wood planking running the whole length of the vessel and “It” had what looked like a Podium behind which the skipper or helmsman stood to steer the vessel. 

This is where the wheel had been set, otherwise, the vessel was as flat as a pancake with no cover against the sun or weather. In front of the Podium, there was what  Kelly called "the Well” which was a 4 foot square area that housed the two Perkins Diesels. This pit was about 3 or 4 feet deep and was covered by a wooden hatch that kept sea spray off the engines but still allowed air to reach them.

The Podium was set aft, about ten feet from the stern and it was about 5 feet high. There was a rope railing round the vessel which was about 18 inches above the deck and this was all one could take hold of if one happened to get into nasty circumstances. At the rear of the well and below the deck, two outboard “legs” with propellers drove the vessel along.

Fishing Begins
We had been making our way down the coast for about two or three hours when he announced that we had arrived in our fishing area, withing minutes I spotted a line of floats off our starboard side and promptly let him know of their existence, to which he replied that I should not come up with damned nautical sayings until I had been at sea a while. 

He told me that the cray pots I could see were in fact ours and that they had been laid very early [about 1 am] that morning by the skipper of a large deep sea cray boat that had left Geraldton the night before. Kelly had done a deal with the Captain and had the pots dropped overboard where we would now commence our red crayfish season. I knew that this was not a legal exercise and that Kelly had far too many pots out but I suppose he felt that he had to compete.

Now it was my turn to learn how to lay pots and how to tie the half sheep heads securely inside them. Hopefully, this would attract and then lure the crayfish inside the pots to their doom. After baiting and pot laying had ended, I began to feel queasy, it had now been sixteen hours since I had been on land and my stomach decided that whatever was still inside should not be there. Suddenly I did not feel the proud sailor anymore and any fish following the Cat did not have to wait long for dinner. I was left with a somewhat weird feeling that continued for the rest of that day, right up until and long after we arrived back at Geraldton.

One of the more noticeable effects my first day at sea had on me, was the odd way my world seemed to be going up and down and from side to side. I could not understand why it continued on, without being still for a single moment, surely my brain knew we were back on land. Before going to bed, I took a nice hot shower thinking that would settle my motion sickness. But no, the shower cubicle seemed to have a rock and roll movement all of its own and I resigned myself to the fact that this must all be part of being a sailor.

The next day, we drove south in two vehicles so that we could leave his four-wheel drive near where we would moor the Catamaran a little south of the town of Greenough, about twenty miles from Geraldton.

After passing through Greenough, we turned in off the main road and headed toward the coast to a place the skipper called Flat Rocks. Here we left the four-wheel drive near a beach house owned by a friend of his and we drove back to Geraldton in my old 1948 Vauxhall, before retiring for an early night in preparation for the hard day to come.

At 5am next morning we headed back to Flat Rocks but this time in the Catamaran and we had loaded up with sacks of sheep heads that we had purchased the evening before from the local slaughter house. We were carrying the last of Kelly’s official allowance of pots and these I baited on the way down to Flat Rocks. I then stacked them ready for throwing overboard. There were about 30 or so pots ready on deck when we finally arrived so I felt that I was in for an easy time.

Sailing on the Catamaran had its pleasures. In fact when there was little to do, it became so enjoyable with the fresh sea breeze in my face and the smell of salt in the air, that soon all the hard work was forgotten, it was so easy then to be at peace with everything and everyone.

Flat Rocks Fishing
When we arrived at our site, I was shown how to retrieve a float with a grapple and how to run the rope around the winch until the pot was dragged up onto a wheelbarrow shaped contraption. The handles of this were pulled back and down and the pot slid aboard a metal plate where it could be emptied, re-baited or taken aboard ready to be transported to a new site.

Once the pot came aboard, it was vacated of whatever was inside, if the catch was good then it would be heaved over board for another try at them. Some of the most amusing scenes took place during this fast and furious work. 

This amusement happened mostly because the skipper wanted to keep the vessel moving. He also wanted the job done quickly so we could get the days catch back to the Cray Factory and in his case, to spend as little time at sea as possible.

That evening we left the Catamaran at her mooring just inside the two reefs that ran parallel to the shore and went home in the four-wheel drive. The trip from the mooring to the vehicle took the best part of an hour due to the fact that we had two full bags of crayfish to carry half a mile up through the sand hills to the car.

Chapter 2
Seeing Kelly in action

During the months ahead I would come to realize that the skipper had no real affinity with the sea and I am sure that it hated him just as much as he disliked being on, in or around the ocean. I also believe that he had only given up his career in the police force because of the lure of big money from the cray fishing industry. 

The Protagonists [ or ‘Kelly and the Octopus’] 
 One of the many very funny episodes that occurred during my new career happened one day while we were taking in our catch. I, for the first time ever, found a rather morbid looking, large brown octopus inside one of the pots. This ugly slimy denizen of the deep had a head about the size of a football, with tentacles at least two or more feet long. It kept slithering from one end of the cray pot to the other and the longer I took to catch it, the angrier the skipper became. Finally, in exasperation he bellowed at me to stand by the helm, while he would show me how to handle the situation.

Well now, he did just that, n’all, n’all. He reached in and took hold of that ugly thing and dragged it out of the pot and into what looked like a bad situation for the many-legged creature. The Skipper had, in his other hand, a very evil looking sheath knife.

Well that Octopus had only one thought and that was to get back into the deep blue briny and not to be severed from connection with its eight thrashing tentacles. Then, for some reason, it thought that the quickest way back to the ocean, was along the arm that held it. In seconds, the suckers on that slimy slippery thing were dragging its slimy body out of Kelly's grasp. Suddenly and to my great mirth, the eight arms were wrapped tightly around Kelly's head while the octopus had pressed itself hard up against Kelly's face while it surveyed the area for an escape route. 

Astaire and Kelly 
At that very moment, began one of the strangest dance routines one could ever see. First the knife clattered to the deck as the skipper reached up in horror with both hands, trying to tear the slippery despicable looking animal from his face. Then a slow beginning to an odd dance, somewhat like a Sailors Hornpipe, evolved to open the ledger on a jig that even professional hoofers would have been proud to do as Kelly's legs kept trying to maintain their footing on the cat until his staggers degraded into god knows what kind of movement.

Round and around they went in a stumbling sprawling version of a wild tribal dance, “Yagrh, Yagrhh, Yagrh, Yah, Yaaaah” he roared, while I tried with all my might to cut the engines down to slow while wiping away the enormous amount of tears rolling down my cheeks. My stomach ached so bad from laughing that even though I was doubled over I could not take my eyes off the incredible scene that was taking place on our promenade deck.

Here I was, witnessing one of the great love hate relationships of all time; Kelly and his Octopus whirled and flapped about in gay abandon like two lovers in a passionate embrace. The glugs and gurgles coming from somewhere within the tightly wound arms of the Octopus almost drove me into hysterics, to which of course, I could not allow sound effects. So all I could do was watch and cry with mirth as the two danced around and around, from one end of the boat to the other.

Finally after what seemed like long minutes, Kelly managed to rid himself of his dance partner, he did so not by pulling at it but by stopping his dance in exhaustion at which time the Octopus decided to beat a hasty retreat. After falling sloppily to the deck, the creature gave him one last glowering look from between the scuppers and then it appeared to bow slightly, before dropping joyfully over the side.

The skipper looked at me so red-faced and angry that I had to bite my lip quickly for he always found little humor in his own mistakes. He glowered and said, “I’ll hear nothing more of this” or words to that effect and returned to the helm. I guess there really was nothing that I could say but for the rest of that day at least and every so often, I would start chuckling and then struggle to suppress it in case the Skipper heard me. I am sure that no greater dance will I ever see no matter how long I live, than that which I will always call ‘Kelly’s Octopus Polka’.

Pottering about
No matter what occurred on a day to day basis, work went on as usual and long hours at sea passed by and each trip brought a new adventure. We would set our pots along one section of the coastal reefs or another and whenever we shifted, something would happen to make the trip interesting.

One morning during the coastal season, we arrived at Flat Rocks and began carting the usual five cray bags of sheep heads down to the beach. We would carry one each for about 100 metres and then return for the others, backward and forwards until we got them to the boat. Thankfully, most of the journey was down hill but it was very sandy, so much so, that the four wheel drive was unable to get over the first ridge of sand and therefore the only way we could get to and from the beach was to walk.

For perhaps two hours we toiled, carting the sheep heads down to the mooring. When we had completed this task one could easily say that a days work had already been done. But into the dinghy we jump with our several hundred pounds of sheep heads and off we did row. Merrily we went, with the Skipper sitting on the stern like Admiral Lord Nelson and directing me this way and that, as I rowed patiently out to the Cat some two hundred meters offshore.

The Skipper told me to swing out and around to the seaward side of the Cat. At this, I protested, we were very low in the water and the waves coming over the reef were about twelve to eighteen inches high. This left me a little concerned that we might be swamped. It was not that I felt that I was more knowledgeable of the sea than the Skipper, it was just plain commonsense. The sea was going to swamp us because we were running too low but the Skipper refused to see what I meant.

‘But no,’ Kelly said. ‘The gate is on the other side and it was easier to unload the bags there’. So instead of trying to manhandle them over the rope, it would be better, in his opinion, to try our luck against the little waves. So I did what I was told but no sooner were we in position at the gate, than sure enough, a two footer came bounding over our side and down we went like a stone.

Perhaps in afterthought I could have placed the dingy stern first against the side of the Catamaran thereby allowing the dingy to face the waves but this was the first time I had ever rowed a boat on anything more than a slightly choppy river.

The dingy tilted over on its side as she went under and all five bags of bait sank ten feet to the bottom along with our food and drinking water. The Skipper had grabbed hold of the Cat as we were going down. He hauled himself out of there without wetting his boots while I was left floundering about cursing silently under my breath. The skipper looked down at me with the churlish look one gets when he has realized his mistake but all he said was; “Well, go down for the bags then, hurry up!”

So down I went with the grapple and one at a time they were retrieved from the bottom. I went back down and brought up our water but the food was ruined and not at all edible. As I pulled myself from the water, I turned to help lift the dinghy up and empty her out. It was then that I saw the large amount of blood in the water. I blessed the fact that it was all from the sheep heads and not from me. Within minutes, two or three sharks were swimming around our Catamaran each of them seemed to be looking up at me, with what appeared to be disappointment in their glassy eyes.

Perhaps I am not the most experienced sailor in the world but commonsense should have prevailed in this matter and it was about now in my cray fishing career, that I began to go on the defensive. We were at sea when we heard that one of the very large crayfish boats had lost one of her deckhands overboard and by the time we were retrieving our catch, there was already an air-sea search taking place in the area where they thought he had gone overboard. He was declared missing at 4am but no one was sure and the vessel had been hurrying to get to her pot site and it was some hours before they noticed he was not on board. 

Chapter 3

Now I became somewhat concerned for my own well being, Kelly was not all that safe in his seamanship. I had not thought about death or dying until about this time but my concern turned to dread one morning as we were heading out to lay pots in an area well off-shore in about 35 fathoms of water. The Skipper seemed peeved about something as we came up on a line of pots and I yelled at him to steer away as we were heading straight at the float lines.

The Skipper paid no attention to my yells and just plowed straight into the first line, in fact he seemed to be aiming to cut as many ropes as he could when suddenly, we came to a halt with both engines shutting down. The big ex cop began marching up and down the deck in a rage and he looked at me and said,” What are you waiting for, over the side you go and see what fouled our props”. Well now, I just knew something was going to happen and I also knew damn well what had fouled our outboard legs, so I grabbed the big knife we had for cutting the heads off octopus and slid into the sea alongside the Cat. 

I went under the starboard hull and came up in the outboard legs chamber. I found both propellers had been wrapped very tightly with half-inch pot ropes, so tightly in fact, that they were extremely tough to cut.

Slowly, after about twenty minutes, with the Skipper persistently asking how it was coming, I eventually managed to free one of the legs from its bindings. The Skipper kept calling  intermittently, “have you finished yet”? After a while, I yelled back to him that that I had completed one side and that I was cutting into the second lot, when suddenly, right in front of my eyes, the freed prop began to rotate.

Slowly at first then faster it went and then my bottom half began being drawn upward toward the spinning metal dervish. I pushed away and downward with my arms using the leg that was still hog-tied, as a lever, while trying to keep my legs from being drawn in toward the propeller. I then commenced screaming at the top of my lungs for Kelly to turn the bloody engine off. My yells though, seemed to go unheeded. Closer and closer the devilish device came, soon I began to fear, first for my manhood and then for my life. I could see myself being completely castrated and gutted by this little metal monster, for I was slowly being dragged closer and closer. 

Finally my frantic yelling must have caught his ear for the engine stopped and his disembodied voice inquired as to what all the bellowing was about. It was at this moment that I decided to tell him about his real parentage while deep inside, my thoughts were of the fact that the red season end was coming and that I would begin looking for a new boat as soon as we took our break.

Chapter 4
The Silent Green
Time rolled on until one afternoon as we were heading back to our mooring in fairly bumpy seas; danger reared its head again. The wind had risen dramatically, increasing the swell which was running at about three to four feet on the incoming tide. This was a usual situation at that time of the afternoon on the West Coast of Australia. But this day there appeared to be a little more tension in the air, I could not define it but something was making me feel nervous.

Twin reefs about 100 feet apart, ran the length of the shoreline at Flat Rocks. If my memory serves me well, there was an opening at the northern end of the outer reef, through which we had to pass to run about 800 meters south to a gap in the inner reef. This then, allowed us to pass through to our mooring site. We were about a mile offshore when our troubles began. One of the engines lost its electrical power and we were forced to shut it down. We then had to continue in on one engine and this would make the going a little bit dicey as the seas were getting up. We would be unable to maintain normal steerage with only one prop operating, while trying to make it through the outer reef, it could be done but it would be a difficult operation.

Then, as we were approaching the gap, the skipper had to turn us beam on to the seas. He had misjudged the entrance due to the surf covering the reef and hiding the gap until we were very close. We came up about fifty metres short of the gap and the Skipper then elected to run alongside the reef until we could get through. We were about fifty yards off the rocks as we motored slowly along with both of us praying that we would be able to swing her in through the gap in the reef.

The good engine was now running hot and on his orders, I had to open the hatch and run water directly into her from the pump. I was crouched in that position when I heard a dull roaring sound. When I lifted my eyes, there was a wall of translucent green right there in front of me, then it was surrounding me, then no noise, just a peaceful silence. It was a serene sort of silence, which took hold of me and smothered out all sounds of wind and sea.

There was absolutely no feeling for the need of air; not even a wish for air came to mind, I just marveled at how peaceful it was inside that silent green envelope. There was no feeling of damp not even fear, just peace and quiet. How strange that my thoughts were not for survival or even to breathe. For what seemed an eternity, I seemed to float as if weightless in that pale green world, is this what a child in the womb might feel, was this the same sensation?

Perhaps the shock of seeing such a large wave towering over me had turned on my adrenaline. I still find it hard to understand why I felt no concern at all for my safety or the predicament I was now in, perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Suddenly, like thunder the noisiness of the real world returned. It came crashing in around me like the thunderous fury of an electrical storm. The Skipper had obviously seen it coming and though soaked, was still on his feet except now he was running up and down in the one place yelling “The anchor the anchor”. Kelly had also received a good ducking but had held onto the helm which was extremely solid and his only sufferance, was to look like a large half drowned cat. I was down in the engine well soaked and oily and trying to regain my feet so I could drag myself out of the flooded and very cramped well space.

We now had no engines and we were being driven relentlessly toward the reef, which was about 30-40 meters, distant, and it looked like we were in deep trouble. I looked at his pointing arm and drew myself up out of the well to stagger drunkenly toward the anchor, which I threw overboard while fervently hoping it might catch before we struck. Luckily, it did and we sat there some 20 meters from the reef wondering what would transpire next. 

For the first time, the Skipper showed some seamanship or rather mechanical sense that surprised even me. He sprang into the well and began working on the tired and wet little engine while I bailed the well out. The one working engine had seized so he changed the battery leads over to the powerless engine. After an hour or so of salty duckings and showers, we were able to get underway.  With no further trouble we made it through the entrance and once that was achieved, we were in waters that were much calmer and we made it safely back to the mooring. There we tiredly unloaded our catch of two well-soaked crayfish laden bags. It had grown dark while we were tying up at our mooring and by the time we got our catch back to the vehicle, it was almost ten o’clock at night, another hour to get home and this day would be well done with.  

Chapter 5
The End of Kelly and me 

I did not sail with my skipper Kelly for much longer, I had been told on many occasions that I was taking a chance with his seamanship but I always did like a challenge and frankly, I knew that I was no seaman either, I just went with the flow and tried to learn as I went. As I have previously stated, ignorance is bliss. I was surprised some weeks later when the very first boat I approached for the white cray season asked me for whom I had worked. When told, they hired me without the slightest hesitation, my new Skipper had only one question and this he asked in wonderment. “ You worked the whole season on that Catamaran? When I nodded, he only shook his head and smiled.

My memories of the many things that happened while aboard that intrepid Cat, have not dimmed, it is a part of my life that I shall not forget, as sole deckhand I had manhandled 165 cray pots each time we went out and only extremely bad weather stopped us being there. I had lugged up to five full cray bags [150 pound Potato sacks] a half mile up sand hills at the end of tiring days at sea. I received [if my memory is correct] $10 per bag for my effort. We had good days and we had bad days but the experiences that I had, have served to remind me of the joys of just being alive. 

Chapter 6
My final days with Crays 
My next vessel proved to be one of those special joys, the ‘Helen C’ carried three deckhands and the workload was so much less, I felt extremely lucky to be aboard. I was receiving the same amount per bag but the best we ever pulled in on the Catamaran was five bags [once or twice] and on my new vessel we were doing that almost every day. Sure there were quiet days but deckhands earned a very good wage if they got the right boat. Although I did miss the Catamaran and the quiet companionship of my Skipper, I had not too many feelings of danger and was much less tired at the end of a day aboard this new vessel, besides, the crew were all about my own age and we soon became friends and shipmates. The only time we had danger on board that vessel was when a pot rope from a pot going out wrapped round my foot and dragged me down, my shipmates were on that rope until the skipper slowed enough for me to be set free of the pot.

What happened to our Mr. Kelly? Well the last I heard of him, was about three years later. This was when I met a cray fisherman from Geraldton who was on holiday in Adelaide, to which place I had moved a year or so before. He told me that one of the boats had come across Kelly standing waist deep on a reef near the Abrolhos Islands, he was slapping the water while trying to keep a shark away. The Cat was bottom up and had been put that way by his sailing beam on again, to much heavier surf.

Apparently, they picked him up and he asked them to help him right the Cat which they attempted to do by partially sinking one of the hulls and then tying ropes to the other in the hope of pulling her over. One of the ropes [with a float attached] unwound itself and the float flew through the air like a guided missile and struck our Mr. Kelly right on the forehead knocking him senseless. Kelly was a tough man though and he was soon up and about trying to salvage his boat.

I have never tried to verify the truth to the above event but for the most part, I believe that this is something that would have quite probably eventuated. I myself hold Kelly fondly in my memory and often wonder if he too, had at the time, shared in the eerie feelings aroused by the silent green.