Thursday, December 30, 2010

HMS Investigator (2)

Over 200 years ago, Matthew Flinders and the crew from the Investigator became the 1st to circumnavigate the Australian coast. When Flinders had finished surveying the southern coast of Australia in 1802, he continued sailing the Investigator northwards in an attempt to chart the rest of the Australian coastline. This became quite impossible for him since the Investigator was badly leaking seawater. In early 1803, Flinders had to sail the Investigator to Timor. When he left Timor, he sailed down the coast of Western Australia to make his way back to Port Jackson (Sydney). He sailed wide of the coast to save time for the journey back and was unable to survey and chart the coastline. He only made one stop on the way back. That was at Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago off of Western Australia in May 1803. Middle Island is the largest island in the archipelago. At daylight on 21st May 1803 Flinders was preparing to depart from Middle Island but a fresh breeze started driving the Investigator towards rocks before the sails were loosed. Flinders used the ship’s spare anchors to hold her. He then had to cut two anchor cables just before the ship cleared the rocks at noon. Flinders had lost both his best bower anchor and stream anchor. A bower anchor is one at the bow of the ship. The Investigator’s best bower anchor was over 4m long and weighed over 1 tonne. It had giant flukes sharply offset like a massive arrow. The stream anchor was much smaller, being 3m long and weighing about 406kgs. In 1972, Doug Seton from the SA Museum organized an expedition with some of his fellow Underwater Explorers Club of SA members to find and raise the two anchors.

38 years ago, both anchors were located in Goose Island Bay on 14th January 1973 by members of the Underwater Explorers Club of SA. The bay is so-called because Goose Island is situated in the bay, which is on the northern shore of Middle Island. The anchors were both raised up by the lighthouse ship Cape Don on 19th January 1973. They have now been preserved and restored. The best bower anchor is now located at the SA Maritime Museum at Port Adelaide. The stream anchor was placed in Canberra along with an anchor from James Cook’s Endeavour.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HMS Investigator

Matthew Flinders' ship HMS Investigator was commissioned in Monkwearmouth, Durham, England in 1795 as a collier & working vessel called Xenophon. Her name was changed to Investigator on 19th January 1801 & Flinders was placed in command of her on 25th of that month. She eventually became condemned whilst she lay at moorings in Port Jackson and was used as a stores ship. In 1804, however, Governor King reported to the Admiralty in Britain, that on further examination, her hull had been found to be 'remarkably sound.' She was then repaired & re-rigged and she was used for short runs. In 1805, it was decided that she should return to England 'with despatches'. On arrival her there, a Captain Kent noted that a "more deplorable crazy vessel than the Investigator is perhaps not to be seen." In 1810, the Navy Board sold the Investigator into private service. She was once again the Xenophon, the wanderer, and she later wandered from Petersburg to the Mediterranean. On August 1st 1853, she arrived in Geelong, Victoria from Liverpool and spent her final years in the service of a company which later became the Melbourne Steamship Company. According to the last entry in the Register of British Ships records, the vessel was broken up and her registry closed 31st December 1872. So no suggestion of her being an actual shipwreck at all. She did, however, lose anchors in Australian waters. See later post for more details.

New postings on Shark blog

My shipwreck blog has been quiet as of late. My apologies for that. I've just posted my 1st blog here for about 5 weeks. I have, however, been busy making postings to my shark blog (Steve's Shark Site). Happy new year for 2011.


The Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) is holding its 2nd Shipwreck Photography Competition this year. Photographers from all over the world are invited to send in their best photos of any shipwrecks or other underwater cultural heritage above or below Australian or New Zealand waters. The competition is being run from January to December 2011, with judging occurring each month. Any entries received after the 1st of the month will automatically go into the following month's competition. Except for the January 2011 prize (which can be an image taken prior to 2011), images must have been taken in 2011. All winners will be announced in Dive Log magazine from February 2011 to January 2012. For further details regarding the AIMA 2011 Shipwreck Photographic Competition, refer to