- Brock, David K., Lieut. (E), RAN (Rtd)
- Ship histories and stories, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1998 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Before that stage could be reached however, an enormous amount of research work had to be carried out. It was determined that this vessel was going to be as close a replica of the original as possible. This was not easy, as there were no copies of the original plans. However, painstaking work by naval architects, on information which was available in the form of paintings, sketches and other material from the National Maritime Museum, at Greenwich England, resulted in plans which could be used for the project.
It was also determined that the replica would use the same materials as were used in the original. This meant that the sails would not be machine sewn from modern synthetic sailcloth, but be hand sewn from flax cloth, which would have to be imported from Holland. Standing and running rigging would not employ the modern materials of stainless steel wire and synthetic rope, but the natural fibre hemp rope, well served with Stockholm tar for protection. Wooden blocks and dead-eyes would also be used instead of their modern equivalents.
Wooden boatbuilding methods have not changed very much over the years, and as far as the hull was concerned the main problems were the limited availability of craftsmen with the traditional skills and, of course, supplies of suitable timber.
The timber used was, to a very large extent, second-hand. The stem and stern posts were made from 100-year old ironbark ex wharves at Echuca. The laminated NZ kauri frames came from wood stave brewing vats from the old Ballarat brewery. The jarrah floor timbers were salvaged from Station Pier, Melbourne and the jarrah planking came from a Fremantle wool store. The Californian redwood masts came from an experimental plantation established by Melbourne Water in the 1920s, and the bulwark planking is cypress from the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Huon Pine planking came from various sources in Tasmania.
Below decks the rigorous approach to complete replication is eased somewhat, and the crew enjoy a higher degree of creature comforts with facilities like hot and cold running water, showers, vacuum flushing toilets, gas-fired galley, electric light and refrigeration. On the navigation side, the replica is fitted with all the latest in electronic equipment the original seafarers wouldn’t even have dreamed about. Deep in the bowels of the new Enterprize is the engine room, which houses a 180hp Cummins diesel engine, a 240V AC generating set, bilge and fire pumps, fresh water pumps etc. Much of this is not just to make life easier for the crew, but is necessary to meet present-day maritime authority requirements.
Enterprize was launched by Mrs Felicity Kennett, wife of the Premier of Victoria, on 30th August, 1997, 162 years after the first settlers came ashore from the original Enterprize.
The task of bringing this little ship through from keel-laying to launching involved six years of dedicated work by a small group of craftsmen assisted by many volunteers, male and female. The final result is a great tribute to their enthusiasm and to the generosity of the many people and organisations who contributed money and materials.
I was offered the opportunity of sailing in Enterprize in the recent Tall Ships race by the Chairman of the Enterprize Ship Trust, Harry Tyrrell, who is an old Navy mate of mine. I joined the ship in Darling Harbour on 25th January and was introduced to the permanent crew members – skipper, first and second mates, bosun, two watch leaders and the cook. The other “voyage only” crew members like me were to join the ship the following morning. The total ships company numbered 16.
Australia Day 26th January started early with the remaining voyage-only crew joining the ship. There wasn’t much time to get to know them at that stage, but their average age would have been about 20, which made me feel a bit ancient.
The start of the Tall Ships race was to be at 1500 outside the Heads, but this would be preceded by a parade of sail down the harbour starting at 1000. The sequence of ships was specified and all were allotted a mustering position. Ours was off Cockatoo Island, and we sailed soon after 0900. We had a briefing from the skipper, a safety drill with lifejackets etc., split into watches, and the galley roster and cleaning duties explained.