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.
There 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.
(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).
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.