This is the map of Roman geographer Pomponius Mela made in 50 AD and it identifies a southern continent which he called Antichthones. A manuscript fragment by an unknown Roman writer of the same period describes animals with pouches in which their young were carried. Based on a "leap of faith" one supposedly can draw the conclusion that Antichthones is Australia.
02/24/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
The weather today was the same as yesterday: blustery and threats of rain. Due the weather, not much happened on Leu Cat. Thus, I am continuing with my brief write up on the history of Australia.
The Discovery Of Australia
Based on the readings that I have done, the "discovery" of Australia is highly disputed. However, this is generally true for any lands as politics and "pride" seem to dim the eyes of the historian that is doing the research and writing. I have read works of various historians that claim the Phoenicians first came to Australia and passed on to the aborigines many of their religious customs and tools. A web site (http://www.awarenessquest.com/AAA/research.htm ) shows a photo of a group of seventeen granite stones that were found in Toowoomba with Phoenician inscriptions. One had been translated to read "Guard the shrine of Yahweh's message" and "Gods of Gods". Another inscription reads, "This is a place of worship of Ra" and "Assemble here to worship the sun." (Ra was the Egyptian sun god). I will post a copy of this photo to this blog.
Others have claimed that the Greeks as early as 350 BC and the Romans around 50 AD were well aware of the existence of Australia as shown in the maps they were making in those respective periods. The map that I will post above this blog was drawn by the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela in 50 AD and it identifies a southern continent which he called Antichthones. A manuscript fragment by an unknown Roman writer of the same period describes animals with pouches in which their young were carried. Based on a "leap of faith" one supposedly can draw the conclusion that Antichthones is Australia.
In Gavin Menzies' book "1421: The Year China Discovered the World", he writes about the great fleet of ships that the Zhu Di's dynasty sent around the world. The fleet divided into 4 groups with each group of ships exploring different parts of the world. One of the admirals, Zhou Man, landed a party near Newcastle, on the Western coast of Australia, where he built a garrison. He then continued south along the coast to Campbell Island, where he lost one of his ships. Later, he also explored the eastern coast of Australia and plotted in some detail the location of the Great Barrier Reef. He also stopped at Gympie to mine for gold.
Most writers of Australian history I have read start their description of the discovery of Australia with a few passing words of the Portuguese and then leap to the Dirk Hartog (Dirck Hatichs), a Dutch who captained the Eendracht. In late October 1616, he came across a string of uninhabited islands beyond which was a vast mainland. He went ashore on one of the islands and high on the cliffs of Cape Inscription at Shark Bay recorded his visit on a flattened pewter plate, which he nailed to a post before sailing away. The translation of the inscription reads: "On the 25th of October there arrived here the ship "den Eendracht" of Amsterdam supercargo Gilles Miebas of Liege; Skipper Dirck Hatichs of Amsterdam. She set sail again for Bantam on 27th do. Sub cargo Jan Stins; Upper steersman Pieter E. Doores of Bil. dated 1616". A replica of the plate is on display at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle.
Hartog's plate was found by another Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh on 4th February 1697, who replaced Hartog's plate with one of his own.
Hartog appears to me to be the first noncontroversial, substantiated "discoverer" of Australia. However, both he and Vlamingh only stopped on the continent and did not spend any time here nor any Dutch returned to develop it.
Since the British both "discovered" Australia and then developed it, historians give most of the pages written about its discovery to them. From what I have read, John Brookes, Captain of the English ship Trial became Australia's first recorded shipwreck when it ran onto reefs near the Montebello Islands on 24th May, 1622. Brookes and 45 crew members managed to sail 2 boats to Batavia leaving 93 others behind to perish. The first boat ended up in Java on 8th June, and arrived in Batavia on 25th June. The second boat had set sail for the Montebello Islands, searched for water on arrival, and then turned north for Batavia. After the two vessels reached Batavia, allegations arose that Brookes had stolen items from the Company and had been negligent. Brookes had also seemed to put false entries in his Journal indicating that he had not gone further east of where he had been instructed to go. Brookes' false entries placed the Trial wreck many kilometers west of the true wreck site and the Trial Rocks were not discovered until some 300 years later. In 1934 Ritchie's Reef was discovered to be the true site where the ship went down.
The renowned English pirate William Dampier on 5 January 1688 beached his ship, Cygnet, on the northwest coast of Australia, near King Sound. While the ship was being careened Dampier made notes on the fauna and flora and the indigenous peoples he found there. Later that year he and two shipmates were marooned on one of the Nicobar Islands. They obtained a small canoe which they modified after first capsizing and then, after surviving a great storm reached Sumatra. After further adventures Dampier returned to England in 1691 via the Cape of Good Hope, penniless but in possession of his journals. He also had as a source of income the famous painted (tattooed) Prince Jeoly and his mother, who he had purchased as slaves and subsequently exhibited in London thereby also coming to be better known while his book was being printed.
Captain James Cook sailed the entire length of the eastern coast in 1770, stopping at Botany Bay on the way. His naturalist, Joseph Banks wrote: "the country rose this morning in gentle sloping hills which have the appearance of the highest fertility, every hill seemed clothed with trees of no mean size". The landscape around Captain Cook delighted him such that he wrote in his journal: "it can never be doubted that most sorts of grain, fruit, roots etc. would flourish were they once brought hither planted and cultivated, and here are provender for more cattle than can ever be brought into the country". This part of Australia reminded him of Glamorgan shire and he named it New South Wales.
He slowly worked the Endeavor northward, sailing a thousand miles and making meticulous surveys as he moved on up the coast. However, at 11 PM on 10 June 1770, the Endeavour struck a reef and started taking water. Desperate to lighten the ship, the crew heaved nearly 48 tons of material over the side, including ballast and cannons. Twenty-three hours later, at the next high tide, the Endeavour pulled free. Six weeks were spent repairing the ship at what became known as Endeavour River in northern Queensland. A village called Cooktown is presently at this spot. Endeavour's jettisoned ballast and cannons were found, encased in coral, in 1969.
Using long boats out ahead of the Endeavour, Captain Cook carefully tacked around and through the Great Barrier Reef near Cape York, the northern most tip of Australia. Before sailing away, he held a little ceremony to take formal possession of Australia. The flag was run up onshore to a salute of musketry. Then, with parts of the ships bottom so worn that "they were no thicker than the sole of a shoe", Captain Cook and the Endeavour limped into Jakarta for refit.
02/23/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
As we sit on board Leu Cat, hunkered down as a slow moving trough passes over our area, there really isn't much to do. My main focus is finishing the various little things that we need to do to get the mainsail fully up and ready to go. However, we need either light winds or winds from the NE. Instead, we are getting winds gusting up to 35 knots and from the NW. Thus, we sit twiddling our thumbs, waiting for better conditions to arrive. Unfortunately, the weather gods look like they are going to be taking their time before they let the good times roll again since stormy weather is predicted until we leave on Monday.
If you know me, I can only sit still for a short time before my cursed "itchy butt" syndrome kicks in. Thus, throughout today I was jumping up, going outside and looking for some little project to work on. It was really sad to watch...
Instead of boring you with what work was done on Leu Cat, I thought I would share some interesting tidbits I have read about our host country, Australia. This will be done in installments as we wait out this low pressure system over the next few days.
The first settlers of Australia are thought to have arrived around 50,000 years ago. This would have most likely been at a time when the sea levels were low. Although much of Australia became populated, the central dry areas didn't attract settlers until around 25,000 years ago. The population grew proportionately quicker around 10,000 years ago as the climate improved.
At the time of British settlement at Sydney Cove it is estimated that 300,000 aboriginal people, speaking around 250 languages inhabited Australia. On arrival, finding no obvious political structure, the Europeans took the land as their own. The Indigenous people were driven out of their homes and many killed. Various new European diseases spread rapidly amongst the indigenous people, killing many. This is also what happened in North America. The Europeans, who for centuries lived in close quarters with their livestock, had lived with a number of diseases that transferred from their livestock to humans. The major such disease was smallpox. Over the centuries a resistance developed in the Europeans. The indigenous people had no such resistance and in both North America and in Australia. This disease decimated their populations.
During the early part of the 20th century legislations were passed to segregate and protect Aboriginals. This involved restrictions on where they could live and work and families being broken up.
After World War II, assimilation became the government's aim. Rights were taken away from the Aboriginals and attempts made to 'Europeanize' them.
During the 1960's the legislation was reviewed and the Federal Government passed legislation for all Aboriginals to be given citizen status. However, it wasn't until 1972 that the indigenous people were given back limited rights to their own land. The situation has been steadily improving for Australia's Indigenous people, although many feel more needs to be done.
02/22/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Today the winds were fairly mild. There was a big storm inland and, for some reason, it had taken most of the wind with it. Thus, we decided now was the time to start getting the mainsail back on the mast.
This is no small job since the sail weighs well over a million pounds... OK, I know my nose just grew a little bit on that fib but after hauling it around the boat deck and getting it ready to raise it, it sure felt like a million pounds to me.
With Mary Margaret manning the winch and I standing on the mast steps just above the boom, we slowly, very slowly, raised the main. As it went up, Mary Margaret would stop the winch when each batten rose up to the level of its respective batten car. I would then insert a bolt into the batten car and through part of the batten receptacle link that is affixed to the sail. Holding on to the mast for dear life, I would then tighten the bolts down. Now, that does not sound too difficult but it was since I had to wrap my arms around the mast to get to the bolt and the nut and still hang on. It was slow work and in the process I discover that I reinstalled one of the batten cars in the wrong order last week. D*@#n!!!
When I made that discovery, the wind was starting to pick up so we just continued on in order to get the sail attached and then stowed into its stack pack before the heavy winds returned. We will need to re-raise the sail again so I can remove the batten car and place it in is correct order. Since we still need to raise the sail and insert our new battens, this is just a "minor" inconvenience.
On the "batten front", Keith, the owner of the local fiberglass shop brought our three new battens to our boat today. Hooray!! That saga is now behind us. We now just need to insert them into the sail, measure where the ends need to be cut, then cut the ends and reinsert them into the sail. I can tell this is going to be another all day job....
02/21/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
This morning we said so long to Ange and Allen of S/V Honey Wind and then help cast off their dock lines. They actually did not go very far since they just anchored in the river about 200 feet away. They needed to do a few more little boat projects before they continued sailing south but did not want to pay the daily marina dockage fee for their last day since they no longer needed access to shore power.
We have finalized our sail plan for this coming cruising year. I have posted a picture of it to this sail blog. Around mid-April we will start sailing north, up the inner passage along the Great Barrier Reef. This will be mostly day sailing as we island hop up the Reef. Once we reach Cape York, which is the finger of land at the NE corner of Australia, we turn west and cross the Gulf of Carpentaria. This will be one of the few times that we will actually be sailing over night. Once we reach the north coast of Australia, we will make our way to Darwin. We plan are arriving there in early July. In late July, we will leave for Indonesia. At this time, we are planning on joining the Indonesia Rally but, since we are not really "rally people" we are still having a hard time with that concept.
You can see the course we will be taking from Darwin over to and through Indonesia. From Singapore ( We are still not sure we will sail into Singapore since it is so crowded with ships. We may stay across the bay at one of the islands) we will follow up the Malacca Straits along the coast of Malaysia until we reach the island of Langkawi, which is right next to the border between Malaysia and Thailand. We will park the boat in Langkawi as we wait out the monsoon season. We hope to arrive in Langkawi in early November.
Well, there you have it: the 2012 passage of S/V Leu Cat!