April 9, 2020
A Virtual Voyage to Australia
An archaeological excavation in our own backyard and an online game based on real convict voyages
...or keep reading to learn how it's all connected:
Today we want to share a very different kind of activity with you. We have been inspired by the work of our friends and neighbors, the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), who have a conservation lab and storage facility on our campus at the Herreshoff Museum. RIMAP is currently working on a fascinating project to identify what they think are the remains of the 18th century ship LORD SANDWICH / HMS ENDEAVOUR on the bottom of Newport Harbor right here in Rhode Island.
HMS ENDEAVOUR (not to be confused with the 1934 America's Cup J-Class ENDEAVOR!) was launched in 1764 in England. Under the command of Captain James Cook on a voyage that lasted from 1768 - 1771, HMS ENDEAVOUR was the first European ship to voyage to the east coast of Australia. After her return to the U.K. from the South Pacific, she was renamed LORD SANDWICH in 1775 and became a cargo ship and troop carrier. LORD SANDWICH was scuttled without fanfare in 1778 in Newport, RI. You can learn a lot more about the vessel on the RIMAP website and on the Australian National Maritime Museum website, and you can read ANMM's field blog from the 2017 season in collaboration with RIMAP in Newport. ANMM also has a full-scale replica of ENDEAVOUR and runs sailing programs along the Australian coast (in non-COVID-19 times).
So what would a voyage to Australia have been like in the late 18th and early 19th centuries? The Australian National Maritime Museum offers us an interactive glimpse from the 1830s, during a period when Great Britain was regularly sending ships filled with convicts to Australia. Though it's about 60 years later than ENDEAVOUR's voyage of exploration, many of the same challenges apply to a voyage on that route - and tricky weather, provisioning, the health of the people onboard, routes and voyage finances are all challenges you will have to consider!