The Life and Loss of HMSC MERMAID

Between 1818 and 1820 the small cutter HMSC Mermaid played an important role in charting Australia‚Äôs vast coastline.   So, it is perhaps ironic that her last voyage should have been cut short on an uncharted reef off the north Queensland coast. The Mermaid was an 84-ton cutter launched in Calcutta in 1816.   She arrived inContinue reading “The Life and Loss of HMSC MERMAID”

No Charts, No Worries

When Captain George Browning sailed the small schooner Caledonia from Sydney in December 1831, he intended to follow the coast north as far as the Tropic of Capricorn.   There he was to collect salvage from a ship that had been wrecked in the Bunker Islands and return it to Sydney to be sold.   But onContinue reading “No Charts, No Worries”

The Loss of the Mandalay: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As Captain Emile Tonnessen saw the sheer granite walls of Chatham Island loom into sight, he knew his ship and crew of 12 men were in serious trouble.   Unrelenting gale force wind and high seas had driven his 913-ton iron barque Mandalay North-east for the past several days, and his chart showed that should heContinue reading “The Loss of the Mandalay: Between a Rock and a Hard Place”