The Norna and the Conman Commodore

In the early 1900s many hard-working sailing vessels saw out their days plying the waters between Australia and the islands of the South Pacific.   Few, however, would have had such a fascinating history as that of the Norna. The Norna was built in New York in 1879 as a luxury ocean-going schooner rigged yacht.   SheContinue reading “The Norna and the Conman Commodore”

The Huia schooner – Elegant and Fast

The New Zealand topsail schooner Huia has long been heralded as the best-looking vessel of her type and one of the fastest sailing.   Launched at Kaipara Harbour New Zealand in 1894, the Huia was built using Kauri planks over a puriri timber frame.   Measuring 35 metres (115 ft) in length and registered at 196 tons,Continue reading “The Huia schooner – Elegant and Fast”

Diving for the Gothenburg Gold

On 24 February 1875 the steamer Gothenburg ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef and sank during a ferocious storm with the loss of over 100 lives.   A fortune in gold also went to the bottom. That the Gothenburg had sunk with 3,000 ounces (93 kgs) of gold belonging to the English, Scottish and AustralianContinue reading “Diving for the Gothenburg Gold”

The Countess of Minto’s brush with Disaster

In 1851 two men pulled off a sailing feat few thought possible.   They had been the only hands on board the Countess of Minto when it vanished during a violent storm stranding the rest of the crew on a remote desert island.    Everyone thought the ship had foundered but four weeks later it sailed intoContinue reading “The Countess of Minto’s brush with Disaster”

The Peruvian’s Lone Survivor

There is a modest memorial standing in the Bowen Cemetery in North Queensland dedicated to James Morrill who died on 30 October 1865.   The plaque credits him as a sailor who had survived the loss of his ship and subsequently lived with the local Aborigines for the next seventeen years. The 22-year-old Morrill sailed fromContinue reading “The Peruvian’s Lone Survivor”