Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc.
January 2008 No. 350
“understanding, enjoying & caring for our oceans”
There will be no meeting in January.
The next General Meeting will be in February on Tuesday the 19th. PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DAY.
This will be held at the Adventure Blue clubrooms on the Patawalonga frontage at 7.30pm. PLEASE NOTE THE NEW PLACE.
Our speaker will be Peter Christopher who will be speaking on the historic clipper ship the City of Adelaide.
PLEASE NOTE THE NEW MEETING DAY AND PLACE
The Schooner BOOYA 4.0 (Steve Reynolds)
The Australian National Maritime Museum (Steve Reynolds)
Could members holding money for sold calendars please bring it to the February meeting.
Please note this is the 350th edition of the MLSSA Newsletter. It is also a celebration of our most prolific contributor Steve Reynolds. This is rather a milestone for the Society. Newsletters can only be produced by the efforts of members sending in articles. Need I say more?
(The “Die Hard” style title is due to this being part 4 in a series of articles about the schooner Booya. The series started with “Cyclone Tracy Shipwrecks” in our April 2005 Newsletter (No. 320). It was followed by “More About The Booya” in our July 2005 Newsletter (No. 323). Next came the article titled “The Wreck Of The Schooner Lemael” which also discussed the Booya. That was in our June 2007 Newsletter (No. 344). )
The Booya has sailed under five different names - De Lauwers, Argosy Lemal, Ametco, Claire Crouch and, finally, as Booya.
The De Lauwers had been built at Waterhuizen, Holland (by Gebr van Diepen) as a steel-hulled three-masted auxiliary schooner in 1917. She became the Argosy Lemal in 1920 when she was registered by the Argosy Shipping and Coal Company in Newcastle-on-Tyne in England. She came to SA and was registered at Port Adelaide in May 1923 (by William L McArthur). The Yorke Shipping Pty Ltd then became her next owner. The company later became a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd. In November 1942, the Argosy Lemal was requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government and she was used in New Guinea waters during WWII. In 1949, the ship was purchased by the Middle East Trading Company and renamed Ametco (acronym for Australian Middle East Trading Co.). The Ametco sank at Low Wooded Island in Queensland. She was salvaged but was in poor condition. She was taken to Melbourne where she was purchased around 1952 by shipping company MB Crouch & Co Ltd. Crouch renamed her Clair Crouch after his daughter. The Clair Crouch traded around the Australian coast until 1958 when she was converted to carry sulphuric acid between Port Pirie and Port Lincoln in South Australia. In 1964, she was sold to the Mornington Island Fishing Company and renamed the Booya. She was used as a mother ship and fuel supply vessel for the Northern prawn fleets. She became laid up in 1965/66 until she was sold again in 1968 to the Denham Island Transport Company, trading between Asia, Darwin and other Australian Ports. Unfortunately for her, she was in Darwin Harbour when Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974.
As mentioned above, the Argosy Lemal came to SA and was registered at Port Adelaide in 1923. Nine years later, according to the book “Spanning Time and Tide – The Bridges of the Port Adelaide River” by Ron Ritter, the 254-ton (gross) Argosy Lemal was being assisted by the steam tug Vigilant in the Port Adelaide River in November 1932. They were travelling in a north-south direction through the opening of the Jervois Bridge.
(In 1932, the Jervois Bridge was a swing bridge. It had been built between mid-1875 and early 1878. The Governor of SA, His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, K.C.M.G., opened the bridge on 6th February 1878.)
With the combined width of the schooner and tug being a little greater than the width of the opening in the bridge, the two vessels became jammed together in the bridge. It seems that the steam tug Wato was required to pull the Vigilant clear.
A photo of the Argosy Lemal (Source:http://www.dsac.com.au/Divesite_files/Booya.htm).
Another photo of the Argosy Lemal can be seen on page 24 of the book “Traders Under Sail – The cutters, ketches and schooners of South Australia” by Captain James Gillespie, 1994.)
The Wato actually shared a little connection with the Argosy Lemal. The tug had been built at Newcastle-on-Tyne in England in 1904 to handle shipping at SA’s Outer Harbor. The De Lauwers became registered as the Argosy Lemal by the Argosy Shipping And Coal Company in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1920. She came to SA and, in 1923 she was registered by the Yorke Shipping Pty Ltd at Port Adelaide. The Yorke Shipping Pty Ltd later became a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd.
The Wato was generally used in the handling of ships at the Outer Harbor wharves and the towing of sailing ships arriving and departing Port Adelaide. The Vigilant was one of the smaller tugs that were normally berthed at the North Parade wharf and assisted ships in the Inner Harbor. The book “Triumph, Tragedy and Port Adelaide” by Ron Ritter tells many stories involving the Wato and the Vigilant.
The Vigilant was owned by the Adelaide Steam Tug Company which was a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Company. This gives the Vigilant a little connection to the Argosy Lemal which, as already mentioned above, was registered by the Yorke Shipping Pty Ltd which later became a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd.
In 1924, when the Vigilant was used to tow the City of Singapore to the North Arm in the Port River, she was said to be ‘white-painted’.
The book “Kangaroo Island Shipwrecks” by Gifford D Chapman tells how the tug Wato rescued the crew of the grounded Japanese steamer Portland Maru off of Cape Torrens, Kangaroo Island in 1935. She also attended the grounded yacht Stormy Petrel at Cassini Reef at Cape Cassini, Kangaroo Island in 1937.
I seem to have gotten off of the track though. The first Jervois Bridge was replaced by a new non-opening bridge which was completed in 1968. For further details, read the book “Spanning Time and Tide – The Bridges of the Port Adelaide River” by Ron Ritter, published by the author in 1996.
The Booya now lies on her starboard side in Darwin Harbour, at a depth of 22m. She is said to be “virtually intact” still, except for one of her masts having broken away.
As mentioned in my “Cyclone Tracy Shipwrecks” article, the wreck of the Booya was found in shallow water, just 5nm from shore. A diver (from the police team investigating the wreck in November 2003?) described the wreck as being in pristine condition but said that it was a mess with ropes and equipment everywhere.
According to the Darwin Sub Aqua Club’s web page at
the (approximate?) position of the Booya is “latitude 12o ” S, longitude 130o ” E”.
Image provided by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
According to the Coral Divers web site at
http://www.coraldivers.com.au , the Booya and the Darwin Princess wrecks are still under Police Investigation Orders (after almost four years) and the Coral Divers have been unable to dive them until the police investigations have been completed.
I have found some more information about the Booya in the September 2006 issue of the Newsletter of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) (Volume 25, Number 3). (The newsletter is available on the web at http://www.aima.iinet.net.au/publications/newsletters/docs/NLv25n3y06.pdf.) The AIMA newsletter includes an article by David Steinberg titled “Cyclone Tracy and the Schooner Booya”. The article features the following photo of the Booya, which was provided by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
The article also features the following side scan sonar image of the Booya wreck site (provided by Tek Ventures).
Side scan sonar image of Booya (from
In his article, David Steinberg reports that 14 volunteers from the local diving community are participating in a project aimed at mapping the wreck and recording its fish and benthic life. These divers will also work towards identifying and interpreting evidence that may tell us about the events surrounding the Booya’s sinking. The marine survey is based on the methodology developed by the Reef Watch Program of South Australia. He says that the results of the wreck survey will be reported in a future AIMA newsletter.
He also says that there were 53 vessels on Darwin Harbour when Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Eve 1974. Most of them, including fishing trawlers, harbour ferries, yachts and naval vessels, were either damaged or wrecked altogether. Twenty five vessels were wrecked or missing and 16 people died on the water. The last two vessels unaccounted for were the Booya and the 75-foot ferry Darwin Princess*.
* (There is an article about the Darwin Princess in the July 2004 issue of “Dive Log Australasia”.)
Steinberg says that the Booya was last seen moored at Fort Hill wharf. All of the vessels were ordered off the wharves and instructed to find safe anchorage. There were five people aboard the Booya that night.
The Booya was eventually discovered in 2003 and the Darwin Princess was found the following year. The discovery and identification of the Booya led to a coronial inquiry. Police divers dredged the hull searching for the bodies of the five people that had been onboard. No bodies were found but personal belongings such as jewellery and clothing were recovered. These were offered to the families and friends of those onboard.
The harbourmaster declared an exclusion zone around the site, which was declared a heritage place under the NT Heritage Conservation Act 1991 in 2005. Steinberg says that recreational access is currently not permitted but research on the site is progressing. He says that there are ‘layers of significance’ in relation to Booya. He says that it is of historical significance for its age and working life, and its tragic association with Cyclone Tracy. It is also of natural significance, being a diverse and rich marine habitat. Above all else, however, it is a gravesite and it must be appreciated and managed as such he says. Steinberg says that Heritage Conservation Services of the NT government function as the custodian of this site.
There is another article about the Booya by David Steinberg in the March 2007 newsletter of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Inc (Volume 26, Number 1). The article is titled “Historic photographs of life aboard the Booya”. It tells how the Booya was previously named the Argosy Lemal and functioned as a radio communications vessel during World War II. It also tells how the Argosy Lemal’s crew of 12 was made up of Australians, Americans, Norwegians, Scandinavians, Scots and English. The crew served under the US Small Ships Section. A man called Evan George was assigned to the vessel in 1942 as an 18-year old. With his box camera, he took a number of photographs. These photos provide an invaluable glimpse of this period in the ship’s working life. They depict life aboard the Argosy Lemal and show technical aspects of the vessel’s deck. There are apparently plans for Evan’s photographs to be accessioned into the NT Library’s image collection. The article is available at
http://www.aima.iinet.net.au/publications/newsletters/docs/NLv26n1y07.pdf. It features two photos taken by Evan George in 1942. One of them shows the forward deck of the Argosy Lemal taken from the bow and the other one shows some of the crew, including Evan George, at the bow. (Perhaps someone else actually took that photograph!)
“Ketches of South Australia – A record of small sailing ships on the coast of South Australia – 1836-1970” (third edition) by Ronald Parsons (completely revised & corrected). Printed & published by the author, July 1978. ISBN 0 9599387 9 6.
“Traders Under Sail – The cutters, ketches and schooners of South Australia” by Captain James Gillespie, 1994.
An article about the Darwin Princess in “Dive Log Australasia” magazine, July 2004.
The Coral Divers web site at http://www.coraldivers.com.au .
“Cyclone Tracy Shipwrecks” by Steve Reynolds, MLSSA Newsletter, April 2005 (No. 320.
“More About The Booya” by Steve Reynolds, MLSSA Newsletter, July 2005 (No. 323).
“The Wreck Of The Schooner Lemael” by Steve Reynolds, MLSSA Newsletter, June 2007 (No. 344).
“Cyclone Tracy and the Schooner Booya” by David Steinberg, Newsletter of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, September 2006 (Vol.25, No.3). The newsletter is available on the web at
“Historic photographs of life aboard the Booya” by David Steinberg, Newsletter of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Inc, March 2007 (Vol.26, No.1). The newsletter is available on the web at http://www.aima.iinet.net.au/publications/newsletters/docs/NLv26n1y07.pdf.
The Darwin Sub Aqua Club’s web page at
by Steve Reynolds
The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney’s Darling Harbour has several historic ships on display including tall ships, an old destroyer and a submarine.
On the last day of our stay in Sydney during July 2005, my wife Noeleen and I were able to pay the Australian National Maritime Museum a quick visit. A special exhibit at the time was “Masterpieces of French Naval Sculpture” but we barely had time to take it all in. Out the front of the museum were ships on display in the harbour. These included the destroyer HMAS Vampire. She was the last big gun ship built in Australia before the introduction of guided missiles. She served in the RAN from 1959 to 1986. The destroyer is now moored along the South Wharf outside the museum.
The submarine HMAS Onslow was moored alongside HMAS Vampire (on her port side). HMAS Onslow served in the RAN from 1969 to 1999. She was built in 1968 by Scotts’ Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. at Greenock, Scotland. She was the fourth Oxley class “Oberon” type submarine to be launched. She was first laid down on 4th December 1967. She was then launched almost one year later on 3rd December 1968. She was not commissioned, however, until 22nd December 1969. Her sister ships (subs) were: - Oxley, Otway, Ovens, Orion and Otama (in order of being built, launched and commissioned). They all had a length of 73.5m, beam 8.1m, draught 5.5m. Each one had eight torpedo tubes, including two rear tubes. Their main engines were two Admiralty Standard Range diesels, 3600bhp, two shafts and two electric motors, 6000shp, electric drive.
Moored on the other (northern) side of the South Wharf was the Endeavour, a replica of the original HM Bark Endeavour.
The replica Endeavour at her moorings outside the Australian National Museum (photo by Noeleen Reynolds)
A bark (and barque) is said to be a vessel with both its fore mast and main mast square-rigged, and its after mast (mizzen) fore and aft rigged. (A barquentine is said to be like a bark/barque except that its main mast is not square-rigged like they are.) Noeleen took several photos of the replica Endeavour.
Lieutenant James Cook was sailing in the HM Bark Endeavour when he found Australia’s east coast in 1770. The original Endeavour was a three-masted ship of 368 tons built in 1764 by Fishburn in Whitby, Yorkshire, England. She had three decks and her lower deck length was 97’ 7”. Her overall length was 106 feet and her breadth was 29’ 3”. Her main mast towered 100 feet above deck level.
She had first been a merchant collier called the Earl of Pembroke. She had been built about 1764 and spent four years as a collier at Whitby. The Royal Navy bought her in 1768 for £2,800 and converted her into an exploration vessel. She was a three-masted square-rigger, having square sails on each mast, and triangular fore and aft sails. Her name became the Lord Sandwich in 1776. She was later abandoned at Newport Harbour, Rhode Island. It is believed that she was then one of thirteen ships scuttled there in 1778 during the siege of Newport in the American War of Independence. Researchers believe that they have discovered her location there.
The replica ship’s construction had been proposed during Australia’s bicentennial celebrations in 1988. She was planned to be a showpiece for the (then proposed) Australian National Maritime Museum. She was built in Fremantle, WA between 1988 and 1994. She was launched in December 1993 and commissioned on 16th April 1994.
The replica Endeavour in full sail off Outer Harbor (photo by Mark Churchman)
Mark Churchman gave me a copy of the book “The Replica of HM Bark Endeavour” (edited by Mike Lefroy). The book is a pictorial record of the building of the replica Endeavour. Mark Churchman also gave me several photos which he had taken of the replica Endeavour sailing off of Outer Harbor.
The stern of the replica Endeavour sailing off of Outer Harbor (photo by Mark Churchman)
From the site of the replica Endeavour, we walked along the North Wharf where the museum’s historic fleet was moored. We then walked along the Ferry Wharf where the “Welcome Wall stands as a lasting tribute to the millions of migrants from almost every country in the world who have crossed the seas to make a new home in Australia”. From the Ferry Wharf we could see two tall ships moored at the Wharf 7 Maritime Heritage Centre. The two ships were the James Craig and the replica Bounty.
The James Craig is a restored square-rigger which was originally built in England in 1874. She sailed around the world for fifty years until she was abandoned in a bay in Tasmania. She lay forgotten in the bay for over forty years before being restored to become (at that time) “one of only two fully operational, iron hulled, square-riggers in the world that have been restored to original condition”.
The Bounty is a replica of the HMS Bounty made famous by Captain William Bligh and the mutiny led by Fletcher Christian in 1789. It seems that it was built in New Zealand for the 1980 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.
Noeleen was able to take a photo of the James Craig and the replica Bounty moored at the Wharf 7 Maritime Heritage Centre.
The James Craig (centre) and the replica Bounty (on the right), both moored at the Wharf 7 Maritime Heritage Centre (photo by Noeleen Reynolds)
It was all too soon time for us to leave Sydney for our return flight back to Adelaide, so we reluctantly turned our backs on the James Craig and the Bounty and rushed back to where our hire car was parked. Hopefully we are able to visit the museum again one day in the near future.