Mutiny on the Ariel

In 1845 the trading schooner Ariel was seized off the coast of China while carrying a valuable cargo worth millions of dollars in today’s money.   This act of piracy was unusual because it was not carried out by a band of desperate cutthroats but by two of the ship’s own officers. The schooner Ariel wasContinue reading “Mutiny on the Ariel”

The Orete’s Robinson Crusoe-like Castaway

In January 1918, Donald Mackenzie found himself marooned on a tiny uninhabited island after his schooner sank during one of the most powerful cyclones to hit Central Queensland.   The tough 56-year-old Scott was a seaman on the Orete which had sailed from Maryborough bound for Mackay with a cargo of sawn timber.    They had noContinue reading “The Orete’s Robinson Crusoe-like Castaway”

The Caledonia’s perilous last voyage

On a stormy December night in 1831, eleven desperate convicts seized a small ship at Moreton Bay and forced its captain to take them to a South Pacific Island.   But as the prisoners turned pirates climbed aboard the vessel, little could they have imagined that most of them were escaping one reign of terror forContinue reading “The Caledonia’s perilous last voyage”

The Appalling loss of the Grimeneza

On 3 July 1854, the Peruvian ship Grimeneza struck a reef at Bampton Shoals in the Coral Sea.    The Captain, first mate, ship’s surgeon, and four sailors immediately abandoned the ship leaving the rest of the crew and about 600 Chinese passengers to their fate. Twenty-eight days later Captain M.H. Penny and five others reachedContinue reading “The Appalling loss of the Grimeneza”

The May Queen’s Long and Lucky Life

Launched in 1867, the May Queen is Australia’s oldest sailing ketch still afloat.   During her century long working life she twice sank, survived several collisions and a myriad of other mishaps that could have been her demise. The 36-ton May Queen was purpose built for carrying timber, but over her long career she transported allContinue reading “The May Queen’s Long and Lucky Life”