She is a true restoration, not a replica. In 2003, she was awarded the World Ship Trust’s, International Maritime Heritage Medal for authentic restoration. She joins a select band of restored ships throughout the world.
In 1900, she was purchased by Mr J J Craig of Auckland, New Zealand, who used her on trans-Tasman trade routes as a general cargo carrier. In 1911 she was laid up because increasing competition from steam ships made sailing vessels uneconomical. She was then stripped and used as a copra hulk in New Guinea. After the First World War there was an acute shortage of cargo ships and she was bought by the well-known Australian jam manufacturer, Henry Jones IXL. This gave James Craig a new lease of life after being towed from New Guinea to Sydney for re-fitting. Her return to service was brief because in 1925 she was reduced to a coal hulk at Recherche Bay, Tasmania. In 1932 she was abandoned and became beached after breaking her moorings in a storm. She remained beached until 1972 when volunteers from the Sydney Heritage Fleet re-floated her. In 1973 she was towed to Hobart where temporary repairs were carried out. She was towed to Sydney in 1981 and restoration work commenced. James Craig’s restored hull was re-launched in February 1997. There are only four operational barques from the 19th Century still capable of sailing, Star of India in San Diego, California, (launched 1863), James Craig in Sydney (1874), Elissa in Galveston, Texas, (1877) and Belem in France (1896). Of these, James Craig is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, and is the only of the four which regularly carries members of the general public to sea. Though her days of sailing around Cape Horn are probably over, she has 23 roundings to her credit.