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.