A sad end

I recently learned the sad news that the old Australian brigantine the Golden Plover has been broken up.
 Golden Plover was built 1910 in Melbourne, Australia. The 30 meter long wooden hull was originally built as a steam-powered tug that could also carry cargo and worked as a government harbour boat.

Fifty years later she was transformed into a lobster fisher and was a working vessel until she was damaged by a fire onboard. For several years she laid sunken in the Maribyrong river in Melbourne.

Golden Plover before she was restored in the 1960'sThere the German Jacoby brothers, Helmut, Gunther and Gerhardt found her. They raised, restored, rerigged and gave her a 150hp diesel engine. She was launched again in 1974. In the seventies the Jacoby brothers sailed her to Europe and visited their hometown, Cologne. I have not been able to find much more about the trip to Europe and back, but she did return to Australia and was put up for sale in 1982.
Local John deVere bought her and ran charter sails in the Whitsunday Islands, off the coast of Queensland. A place that looks truly amazing and must be a terrific place to experience in a wooden ship, be it with Captain Cook on the Endeavour or on the Golden Plover a few hundred years later.

Some sources say that after the Plover sailed to Europe she was put into service in England, but i have failed to find anything more on that, either way must have been short if she was back in Oz by 1982.

Golden Plover under sail seen from the bowspritHowever, there are some nice shots of the Plover under sail, since she starred in several movies; Blue Lagoon, Dead Calm, Paradise Found and Tribes and Eliza Jane.


(Some interesting stunsail operation going on in these pictures.)

By the end of the eighties the Plover was the oldest working commercial boat in Australia. In the middle of the nineties she went up to Cairns, where it seems like she did some ”Great Barrier Reef boat partying tours”, and maintenance must have fallen short.

I have seen the same phenomena in other places. Nice old wooden boats that are being used as a partying vessel in crystal blue waters in a bay somewhere in perfect vision for the coked up drink smooching and shag screaming piss drunk raving english speaking synthetic drug mongers on the beaches. Like an umbrella in some new money made up characters kerosene stinking drink. That will make any wooden hull rot up faster than a washed up fish on a beach in Thailand.

But let’s not go off on a tangent here, I have no clue if this was the case with the Plover. Apparently she was broken up into a pile of soggy timbers after sitting 20 months  on the Cairns slipway hardstand in a special cradle on land.
I know that last year there was a couple working on trying to save and eventually restore her, but that fight seems to have been lost, unfortunately.

There is not much info to be found on what happened to her in Cairns and why she deteriorated into something not worth saving. In this article from Whitsunday Times they only quote the slipways manager who says that she was in poor condition.
I would hope so if she was broken up.

For some nice pictures of the Plovers days of glory, check out the Facebook-group Friends of the Golden Plovers photo album, where members have been adding some nice shots (a few that I have been barrowing here, thanks for that).

Golden Plover under sail, seen from the starboard quarter

Her brigantine rig is a nice one with three big squares which in the midst of the head- and staysails, the beautiful geometry with the main and the top makes it a soul soothing feeling to see that silhouette on the water.


8 comments on “A sad end

  1. Marcel says:

    i am the neighbour of Günter Jacoby. I just read that sad story about the Plover. I already wrote an e-mail to the cairns slipways without response. So maybe you can help me to find out where she is now or what exactly hapenned with her. A big ship like that can’t be gone to dust. There must be something left.

    Thank you for any response.

    Greetings from cold Europe


    • Peter says:

      Hi, I knew Günter many years ago. I will write to him at ‘La Riviere’. It’s been many years since I saw him last. How is he doing these days? I was browsing the internet when I came across this article. You can find a video of the ship on YouTube:

      A great story.


  2. Dennis says:


    I was on the search for the Golden Plover because my Grandparents from Cologne knew the Jacoby Family and always told me the storys of the arrival of the Golden Plover in Cologne. We still have an copper engraving of that ship at home and somewhere newspaper articles of the ships arrival. I now tried to find the ship but only found your sad article. It seems that I am just one or two years to late to see that ship. Are there any news about the ship and its remains?



  3. Marcel says:

    Hello, thanks for all the replys.
    Here are some more links about the plover:




    Golden Plover - Cairns Slipways 2

    Lets keep in touch here if someone got some more stuff about the plover.



  4. Peter says:

    Thanks Marcel for posting these. Has anyone spoken to Günter recently? I never made it back to South of France. I was always thinking about how he is and how his sons are doing.

    • Marcel says:

      Yes, Günter is my neighbour. Hes o.k. so far. shure the age left some marks, but if you know the Jacobys, you know that they’re tough boys. If you want i can send him some greetings from:peter???

      cheers from france

  5. Sonja Lane says:

    Gert Jacoby and his family are old family friends (and have met and stayed at Gunther’s in the S. France for my mums 70th, who is German hence the link) I grew up sailing on the Plover, as Gert and his brothers on their return from Germany landed in the Whitsundays in the late late 70s and she spent many years taking tourists out around the islands. Every non-school day I was on her, it was truly a wonderful life. Gert and Helmut ran a tight ship, constantly maintaining the boat, however once it was sold to John deVere the same passion to keep it in great shape was lost and it was downhill from there.

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