At one of our first festivals when my children were much younger, I was standing with them at Franklin Wharf, looking across the docks. Some of their young cousins were also present. We were admiring the magnificent barque James Craig, and the beautiful replica Bark Endeavour, both of which were lying alongside Princess Wharf.
“Those ships” I said to the children, thinking I was being very smart and provocative, “were the rocket ships of the 1800s”.
The children looked at me like I was a complete idiot. However, I then proceeded to explain that it wasn’t that long ago that they were at the cutting edge of technology; and that one or two centuries ago, the ships would depart with their crew, in the case of Endeavour for parts unknown, with no real certainty as to where they would be at any given time; no way of communicating with the outside world; no way of knowing when, or if, they would ever get home; and no way of manoeuvring the vessel apart from using the wind. Rocket ships, I continued to explain, also transported brave people, but into space; however, unlike the sailing ships we were looking at, we could talk to them, we knew where they were, we could bring them home, and we knew when they would be back.
Encouraged by the growing enthusiasm of the children, I then continued to explain how each ship relied upon the wind for propulsion. I explained how the sails worked, and how block and tackle and basic physics were used to move these relatively massive items around on the world’s oceans.
It wasn’t that long ago – at least insofar as the James Craig is concerned – that freight and people were moved around the world, and exploration undertaken. For us, living in an age where we have the internet at our fingertips, and the marvels of modern science machines and engineering to benefit us, I think all too often we forget what went into building let alone sailing these magnificent vessels.
Regrettably, of course, there are so few vessels of that age still afloat, let alone sailing. We, at the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival, are so lucky to have James Craig and the replica Bark Endeavour join us and not only that, be present right in the heart of the festival, for everyone to admire, and to go on board. If, by any chance, you have not been on board these vessels, I would encourage you to do so – they are absolutely fascinating! On Bark Endeavour, you can see replicas of the crew quarters, Joseph Banks’ cabin, and of course, Cook’s cabin – in other words, a full scale reproduction of the original living and working spaces of men who had so much to do with the European discovery and exploration of our wonderful country!
Further, we hope to have a number of other square rigged ships present; we expect to see wonderful vessels such as the Enterprize (the replica of the ship that took the first settlers to what is now Melbourne, from what is now Tasmania, formerly Van Diemen’s Land), the Soren Larsen, the One and All, the training ship Young Endeavour, and of course, local vessels such as Windeward Bound, and Lady Nelson. The spectacle of these ships – and the hundreds of other vessels that will be taking part – will make the Parade of Sail at noon on Friday 8 February 2019 truly remarkable, and not to be missed!
And remember, to all those of you who have not yet lodged expressions of interest to display your wooden vessels at the festival, the cut-off date for “vessels on water” is rapidly approaching – the last day to lodge your expression is 14 October 2018. If you haven’t already done so, please lodge your expression of interest without delay!