March 31 - April 6, 2013: Issue 104

 Easter Cruises to Pittwater 

Australia has a rich maritime history, in fact everyone here has come here on a boat of some sort or their ancestors have whether a few hundred years ago or thousands of years ago. When Europeans arrived they sailed in vessels of all description, some of them keeping those vessels here. To celebrate Easter and Pittwater and Easter in Pittwater, we share some archival records this week on the formation and promotion of sailing in New South Wales as a sport and how often those who could afford luxury vessels chose to come here when they had a few days off in a row to dwell in the peace and space synonymous with Pittwater. Yes...they came every year...

EARLY YACHTING. Record of a Great Sport.

The first colonists to New South Wales brought with them not only their national customs and habits, but also the love of sport. Sailing was in their blood, and it has followed through from generation to generation. The first yacht race of any importance recorded was held in 1831, the flagship for the day being the paddle-steamer Australian, and the commodore Mr. Burton Bradley, the owner of the Swallow. The fleet consisted of Sophia, Mr. James Milson; Ariel, Mr. John Ritchie; Wave, Mr Elyard; Seagull, Mr. Gardner, North Star, Mr. Sawyer; Athol Ranger, Mr. Martin; and Aladdin, Mr. Moffat, North Star had an easy win from Athol Ranger. In the second race, Seagull won, and was closely followed by Aladdin. In a race for small boats, Lion came first, with Jane second.

The following year the most important event of the regatta seems to have been a rowing match between the "Gentlemen" and the "Seamen," in four-oared gigs belonging to the Strathfleldsay and the Fair Jane. Contrary to expectations, the Gentlemen won. As usual, the Royal Standard was hoisted at Dawes Battery, a salute was fired, and the ship : in the port were gaily decked with bunting. A vast assemblage of people were at the numerous points and headlands, and the band of the 39th Regiment performed lively airs to the company assembled at the battery. The course of the rowing matches was from Slaughter House Point, round Shark Island, and back to starter's boat. The sailing matches were from starter's boat, round mark off Goat Island, thence round Sow and Pigs, and back to starter's boat. In the evening the Anniversary dinner was held at Cummings Hotel, Mr. Wentworth taking the chair.

A £500 PRIZE,.
We next find that the Anniversary Regatta of 1837 was by far the most important for some years, and seemed to awake great enthusiasm. There were five races, and in the first race, for a prize of £500, we again find Mr. Milson's Sophia was first, followed by Mr. Martin's Athol Ranger in second place, with Mr. Sawyer's North Star third. In the regatta of 1838, Mr. Sawyer's North Star won the big race. Mr. George Thornton won the1839 Anniversary Challenge Race with the ill fated Haidee, which afterwards sank off Shark Island in a southerly blow and drowned the two Chatfield brothers and others of her crew. At the regatta in 1841, the harbour presented a splendid spectacle, the steamers Maitland, Kangaroo, Rapid, and Sophia Jane plied about the harbour crowded with passengers. Sailing vessels were present of all sizes, from 70tons down to half a hundredweight, whilst10,000 persons viewed the spectacle from the Government Domain and Dawes Point. The flagship Australian Packet was handsomely decked with flags. Col. Barney entertained a large party at Dawes Battery, among whom were Governor and Lady Gipps and Sir Maurice O'connell. The Regatta Cup was awarded to Petrel (Hill and Wyer), who beat Friendship, Brothers, Star, and Ariel in the race for all sailing vessels.

The Regatta Cup in 1844 was won by James Milson's Friendship. Ben Boyd was commodore for the day. In the Regatta of 1848, R. H. Harnett won the big race with Madge Wildfire. His name made history in Sydney yachting with the Australian, that remarkable boat which was popularly known as the "Soda-water Bottle," also Beaky. The following year Eclipse won the important race in the Regatta. In 1850 James Milson appeared with a new 12-tonner built by Green, winning the Anniversary Challenge Race, followed by Alfred Fairfax with the Susan.

The Ivanhoe won the Anniversary Challenge Cup in 1855, under Mr. H. Martin's flag, from John Cuthbert's 12-ton Enchantress, followed by R. Harnett's Presto (9 tons), D. Thompson's Eclipse (15 tons), and H. Gardner's Frolic. In the following year's Regatta, James Milson's Mischief won by three minutes from T. J. Dean's Challenge. The Mischief was a smart 10-tonner James Milson had had built by the well-known English yacht-builder, Harvey of Wivenhoe. The prize for the big race in the Regatta in 1857 of 100 sovereigns was won by T. J. Deane In the Challenge.

July 18, 1862
, saw the birth of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron with the Era (James Milson, Jun.), Chance (W. Walker), Eclipse(J. P. Roxburgh), Annie Ogle (Captain Rowntree), Scud (S. C. Burt), Mischief (S. Spain), Ida (J. Josephson), Eclipse (J. Freeman),Daisy (R. Garrett), Why Not (Chas. Parbury),Gitana (Fred. D. Jackson), Irene (H. Threlkeld), Australian (R. Harnett), Eclipse (H.Milford), Mazeppa (A. E. H. Pockley), Peri(H. C. Dangar), Old Tom Mulhall (H. S. Russell), Mischief (J McLean), and Mischief(J. W. Brooks) The RSYS is a history in itself of famous yachts, and men who loved the sport. Many a tale could be told of hard-won races, such as the race between Charles Parbury's Xarifa (31 tons) and the Chance(81 tons) to Newcastle and back in the teeth of a gale, or the race between Poyen, Assegal,Sao, and Watei Nymph to Wollongong and back - Poyen and Assegai crossing the line almost together. In the Regattas of 1864, 1865, and 1866, we find the Hon H C Dangar winning with Mistral (34 tons) The Regatta of 1873 lacked enthusiasm through some hitch in the organizing, and the Government steamer Tweed was commissioned at the last minute as the flagship for the day.

The regatta the following year (1874) was a pronounced success, as evidenced by the large number of entries for the races. The Thetis was the flagship. In the all-yachts challenge race. Fred J Jackson's lone was first across the line, followed by E Kirchner's Osprey (Medcalfe) and Blackman's Eva Sam Hordern's Iris W Woolnoughs Scud, and J R Walter's Torment. The Hydaspes (Capt Babot) was the flag-ship in the regatta of 1875 The race for yachts exceeding 12 tons (prize, trophy valued at £75 and 25 sovereigns) was won by Alfred Fairfax's Langford-built Magic of 28 tons, from Mistral and Alick. Next came the interstate rivalry. In 1879 Mr Alfred Milson with his New Zealand-built yacht Waitangi beat Sir William Clarke's Janet, which came from Melbourne to recover the interstate laurels from Dr Milford in the Doris

Many of the races in the Anniversary regattas of the 70s and 80's started from their moorings. Boats would assemble at the start, drop anchor and sails, and, on the signal hoist anchor and sails, and away. The start was usually from Farm Cove by the 1o'clock gun. Of the smaller type of boat the 22 and 24 feet centre-board fishing boat type became popular, and each Anniversary Regatta saw more of them competing. Among them were Tempest (Alf Gale), Eula (C H Goddard), Lottie (Farquhar), Adelphi (Fitzhardinge), Carlotta (Hyam) Florrie (Castles) Coryphene (Marshall) Nereid (Vic Mann),Nereid (Raymond), Varuna (W M Paul)Pandora (Dr Elliot) Effie (Sam Hordern) Alleen (P W Creagh) Sea Breeze (Oliver), Asteroid, La Belle, Viking, Thisbe, Deronda,  Curlew Wingadee, Tritona. E W and T F Knox had the unique record of winning the three Anniversary Regatta trophies in the regattas of 1882-3-4, with that great old prize-winner Sirocco.

The Centennial Regatta of 1888, was of outstanding importance. The race of the day was won by Alfred Milson in the Era, a 40tonner designed by Walter Reeks and built by  George Ellis In 1886. She commenced her fine racing career by notching five firsts and one second, out of her first six races exactly 50 years after his father had won the Anniversary Challenge Cup race. Many of us have fond memories of those Anniversary Days of yesterday. EARLY YACHTING. (1936, May 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved March 30, 2013, from

R H Goddard - Roy (1888–1958) was a chartered accountant with qualifications from the University of Sydney. However, his business was not particularly successful as he spent so much time away collecting Aboriginal artifacts. He was a keen amateur ethnologist and a founding member of the Anthropological Society of New South Wales, which started in 1928. He held the position of Honorary Treasurer from 1930 to 1939 and frequently took part in its excursions. Roy’s other interests included yachting and Australian art. He was at one time Vice-Consul in Australia for Honduras and Acting Secretary of the Latin–American Chamber of Commerce. Roy was declared medically unfit for service during WWI. He wrote articles on sailing, aboriginal artifacts and other areas of interest for daily newspapers and for Legend Press during the 1950’s.

Picture from PDF below: THE CENTENNIAL REGATTA. (1888, February 22). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 8. Retrieved from

In 1837 Mr Milson (1783-1872) entered his first yacht, the Sophia, for the first Anniversary Regatta organised to celebrate the forty-ninth anniversary of the colony. There were nine boats in the first  class boat race, and an interesting contest resulted. After that Mr Milson gave up boating for a time, but in 1841 he resumed the pastime and raced with  the Friendship, a famous 12 ton decked boat, built especially for him by Mr George Green, of Lavender Bay. The craft carried all before her and was afterwards fitted with a cabin and used for cruising on the coast. In her fastest days she was sliding-gunter rigged. Later her rig was altered to a cutter but under the new rig in her first contest she suffered defeat at the hands of Mr George thornton's Champion. Mr Milson then made a trip to England, and in 1855 returned with the Mischief, an 11-ton cutter. She was the first English yacht in Port Jackson, and marked a completely new departure in style and rig, so far as the colonies were concerned. She had won many races in England, and for many years continued her victorious career here. In 1856-57 a formal club was formed, with Mr Hutchinson Brown, police magistrate, as commodore. Then came the Sydney Yacht Club, and subsequently the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, with Mr. Howell, an old English gentleman, as secretary. Mr Milson took a leading part in the formation of the association, which boldly applied for the honour of the white ensign, but got instead the blue. In 1859 he built the Era, which came out in frame work from England. Mr.James Milson was the first vice-commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.DEATH OF MR. JAMES MILSON. (1903, January 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

Racing to and from Pittwater had been occurring for a while prior to The Basin becoming the mooring grounds for other activities:

The race was sailed in a light wind, which gave the yawl very little chance ; she nevertheless stuck well to her rival,but was eventually beaten by about 3 minutes over her time allowance of 3 1/2 minutes. Sirocco's sailing in this race was exceptionally good, and she took second prize by time. The two six-tonners were beaten off and were not timed. The result of these contests was that a private match between the two boats was arranged to be sailed over an ocean course — to Eliot Island and back — under cruising canvas. This, of course, was an advantage to the yawl, who had never yet met her opponent with anything like a similar sail spread. Sao, expecting to meet Assegai, joined in the match, receiving an hour as time allowance. The breeze was not strong, and the sea was smooth. Electra won by half-an-hour from Waitani, Sao being 19 minute outside her time. The time for the whole course by the winner was about 7 hours and 16 minutes — not bad work for about 24 miles to windward and back. This was the last race between these two boats, and on the whole they left off on tolerably level terms, Waitangi having had the best of it three times to Electra' s twice. ...

Sailing Notes. (1886, May 29). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 1125. Retrieved from

Easter Cruises to Pittwater:

For those who think Pittwater was uninhabited year round a hundred or so years ago, imagine this each Easter:

Sailing Notes.
Easter Cruise and Regatta.— Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

For some few weeks back a regatta in connection with the usual Easter cruise of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron has been freely discussed, especially by those more interested in yachting, the outcome of which was that, owing to the liberality of Mr. A. G. Milson (commodore) and the Hon. R. H. D. White (vice-commodore), assisted by members of the squadron, a most successful aquatic carnival was held in the vicinity of the Basin (Broken Bay.) This charming place, with its safe anchorage and otherwise pleasant surroundings, was during Saturday last seen, perhaps, to better advantage than on any previous occasion. 

The commodore (Mr. A. G. Milson), Mr. Hoare, and Mr. Thompson, nothing daunted, got underweigh early on Thursday evening, and after a quick run along the coast Barrenjoey was rounded and things were made snug for the night. Mr. Dibbs's launch Ena also brought up during the evening, the quartet being the only occupants of the basin for the night. On Friday the number of yachts was increased by the arrival of Violet, Bettina, Isea, Archina, Guinivere, and the White Star (s.), the fleet being further added to on Saturday by the arrival of Ione, Jess, and several others, the squadron presenting a very pretty sight as they lay moored almost in a circle with the White Star in the centre. 

Ena II on Sydney Harbour 1890's. Kerry Image Courtesy Powerhouse Museum Tyrell Collection on Flickr.

Scarcely, if ever, has the basin been so alive with craft, from the stately 40-rater Era, and the Hon. E. H. D. White's fine steamer White Star to the 10ft. canvas dingy, which flitted across the cove. There was the usual fleet of fishing craft hailing from Pittwater and its vicinity, the whole forming a most pleasing spectacle, especially to the nautical eye. The weather for the occasion could net nave been better. The programme numbered half a dozen events two of which were sailing and the rest rowing, all of which were very well contested. The White Star having on board a number of yacht owners and other gentlemen followed the two sailing races, a most enjoyable time being the result. In the evening a large party of gentlemen assembled on board the commodore's vessel Era for dinner, after which the vocal powers, assisted by the piano, were made good use of, all present voting the commodore a jolly good fellow. Sunday was devoted to quiet visits, a large number finding their way on board the handsome White Star and Era, on board both of which the most lavish hospitality was extended. 

 'White Star' on Sydney Harbour, c. 1880-1893 - courtesy  Tyrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum 

The Yacht 'Era' 1890. photo By Henry King. Courtesy of Powerhouse Museum [85/1285-165] (Tyrrell Photographic Collection.

Long will the 1892 Easter Cruise be remembered by those who had the good fortune to take part in it. The success of the cruise, &c, is mainly due to the efforts of Mr. A. G. Milson (commodore), and the Hon. R. H. D. White (vice-commodore), both gentlemen having put themselves out considerably to further the interests of the squadron. 

General Handicap Race, for all yachts of the R. S. Y. S., cruising- Hails and jib-headed topsails only. First prize, £5 ; second prize, £2 1-M.— Thelma (yawl), Mr. J. F. Hoare, scratch, 1; Guinevere (cutter), Mr. H. S. Harden, 10 minutes, 2 ; Electro (yawl), Mr. H. L. Thompson, 5 minutes, 3. Other starters: Bettina (sloop), Mr. P. W. Creagh, 4 minutes, and lone (cutter), Mr. Woolcott Valey, 15 minutes. The course for this race, which covered a distance of about 11 miles, was as follows : — 

From a flying start at noon from a line between the Era and a mark boat, down to and around Elliott Island, thence round the Era (moored in the basin), around a boat off Barranjoey, and back to flagboat in the basin. The start was effected punctually to time by the 'bow chaser ' of the commodore's ship, the report making the bay re-echo again. Bettina was first away, followed by Thelma, lone, Electra, and Guinevere. The wind came light from the S.W., which carried them out of the bay in the same order. When off Mackerel Beach the Thelma overhauled the Bettina and passed her shortly after. The Guinevere treated the lone similarly; the latter drew up again at West Head. The two leaders, Thelma and Bettina. were so far making a good race of it, and at the island there was only a few lengths between them. The order coming over a wind was— Thelma, Bettina, Electra, Guinevere, and lone. The breeze freshening, came about S.E., in which the yachts stood seaward for about 1 1/2 mile. Both Thelma and Bettina went further than was necessary to make the basin. The Electra and others which had fallen somewhat astern, in seeing the error made by the leaders, came in stays at the same time, and by doing so had, when West Head was abeam, almost overhauled them on the long stretch back. The Thelma opened up the gap, while the rear boats had come somewhat on the Bettina. From the mouth of the basin in to the flagship the positions were further changed. The wind came all round the compass. The Electra and Guinevere both passed the Bettina before reaching the Era and the times of rounding were as follows :— Thelma, at 1h. 54m. 10s.; Electra, 2h. 1m.14s.; Guinevere, 2h. 8m. lto. ; Bettina, 2h. 4m. 31s. and lone, at 2h. 14m. 32s. On the lead to the boat off Barranjoey the Bettina got a start opening out, and passed Electra and Guinevere, and in this order they rounded the mark— Thelma, at '2h. Him. Ms.; Bettina, 2h. 25m. 30s; Electra, 2b. 25m. 35.i. ; Guinevere. 2h. 26m. 4!)s. ; and lone, at 2b. 40m. 20s. On the wny back to the finish Thelma increased her lend, while the Electra drew up with the Bettina. The former's topsail sheet, however, carried away. This was the means of allowing Bettina to hold her own to the finish, which was passed by the Thelma at 2h. 41m. 39s ; Electra, 2h. 53m. 60s. ; Bettina, 2h. 63m. .12s. ; Guinevere, 2h. 66m. 16s ; and lone shortly after out of her time. The Thelma and Guinevere, 'sailed by their owners, secured first and second prizes respectively. 

Bona-flde Fishing Boats of Pittwater, under ordinary working canvas, for prizes of £5 and £2. Course same as for yachts.— Katie, 22ft, W. Boggan, scratch, 1; Little Bill, 22ft.. J. Smith, 2 minutes, 2 ; Kingfisher, 22ft , J. Hastie, scratch, 3. The limited number of entries in this race was due to the fact that several of the craft having run a freight of fish to the metropolis, were unable to get back In time to take part. However, a lot of interest was evinced in this content, which proved a close and exciting one. They crossed the line together, and in rounding Elliott Island only a few lengths separated them. Katie had her work cut out to shake the Little Bill off, which was saving very well. The Manoeuvring of the fishermen as they neared the 'doldrums ' was worth seeing; advantage being taken of every puff, no matter where it came from. The flagship was eventually passed as follows :— Katie at 2h. 49m. 50s. ; Kingfisher, 2h. 51m. 10s.; Little Bill, 2h. 52m. 41s. 

Yachts' Dingy Race, over 11ft., handicapped, for amateurs ; Prize, a trophy. Start at S.!-0. Course : From flagship round the fleet.— Ena (Mr. T. W. Cape), 1 ; Electra (Mir. Thompson), 2; Ena (Mr. Hixson), 3. Other starters: Eras (Mr. Cockshott), Archuia (Mr. Sharpe), Bettina (Mr. Roxburgh). This race, in which there were several fouls, proved an easy win for Mr. Cape, who, followed by Mr. Thompson, made the pace all round the course, eventually winning by two lengths from Electro. 

Race for Dingies 11ft, and under. Course : From flagship round Ena, Archuia and White Star, and back. Prize, a trophy.— Era (Mr. F. W. B. Love), 1 ; Thelma (Mr. C. Pearson), 2; Ena (Mr. Cape), 3. Other starters : Archuia (Mr. A. A. Griffiths), Violet (Mr. Lambton), Guinevere (Mr. Shaw). This was most exciting from start to finish. Era's dingy, which was well rowed, took the lead and retained it throughout, Thelma and Archuia being next in order. The latter was passed by Ena, and the winner kept up a good pace all round, and won easily by about 10 lengths. 

Race for Yacht Hands, in yachts' boats or dingies, handicapped. First prize, £1 10s ; second, 10s. Course : From flagship once round the fleet. — Era, gig, two hands, 1 ; Eva, dingy, one hand, 2 ; Electra, dingy, one hand, 3. Other starters : White Star, Bettina, and Archuia. Era, gig, at the word 'off ' was first to move, the dingy rowed by Wrixon following. Before half the course was covered, Electra quietly worked into third place, and if the distance had been twice round instead of once, the result might have been reversed. Bettina appeared to be rowing a waiting race, and when her occupant began to really exert himself the race had finished, and he was then in the rear. The win was an easy one right through for the gig by fully 20 lengths. 

Gig and Dingy Chase, 10 minutes, for amateurs, for a trophy.— Gig (Mr. Cape), 1 ; dingy (Mr. T. 'W. Cape). More excitement was caused by this than any previous event during the day. From the gunfire until the time had almost elapsed both hunter and hunted were kept hard at it. The dingy for a time kept round the flagship, there not being sufficient length to get way on before you were either round the bow or stem. The monotony was broken when the dingy made a bold attempt in open water, the gig being in hot pursuit. On rounding the White Star, Mr. Hoxburgh, of the gig, got on board the steamer, and as the dingy came under her from made a spring. Its occupant immediately taking to the water was captured before gunfire denoted time was up. This closed the racing, which throughout passed off most satisfactorily.
Sailing Notes. (1892, April 23). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 955. Retrieved from

AQUATICS. Easter Cruise. A meeting of the committees of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Prince Alfred Yacht Club was held a short time back for the purpose of discussing the best means of carrying out the proposed Easter cruise. It will be remembered that a successful regatta was held under the auspices of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron last year on the waters of Pittwater, Broken Bay. On that occasion there were several races, including all yachts handicapped under cruising canvas, bona fide fishing-boats, and quite a number of rowing events m the various yachts dinghies. The outcome of the meeting held above was, on the proposition of Mr A A Griffiths (vice-commodore of the Prince Alfred Yacht Club), unanimously carried. It was as follows -That all yacht-owners be requested to rendezvous at the "Basin" Broken Bay, this morning, when a draft programme will be submitted. This, it is expected, will embrace a number of sailing and rowing events sufficient to fully occupy the following day (Saturday). A handicap race back to Sydney Harbour on Easter Monday by those yachts whose time is limited will wind up what at present promises to be the most successful cruise, numerically speaking, ever hold by the yachting fleet of Port Jackson. Fine weather is the only thing necessary to make it so. Several of the yachts  got away yesterday afternoon and evening with a E.S.E. breeze, and should have made a fine run up. AQUATICS. (1893, March 31). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

Mr A. A. Griffiths (1863-1917), was Aubrey Arthur Griffiths of 303 North Steyne, Manly. He was Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 1863 to Henry Griffiths and Archina Christie and was living at Rockleigh, Glebe Point during the 1890s. He and his father were major fruit sellers in Sydney from early 1890 on, buying up whole crops and transporting them to Sydney for sale. See further at: Windsor Small Debts Court. (1895, July 13). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

Yacht "Archina" on Sydney Harbour with Fort Denison in background by Albert James Perier (1870-1964) Home and Away – 34410, courtesy State Library of NSW

The Australian Champion Yacht Race.  That in order to decide which is the winner of the Champion Cup and sweepstakes, there shall be a series of three races, to be sailed in Sydney waters on dates to be fixed between November 15, 1891, and March 15, 1892.  First race.-Flying start from a line between: starter's boat and H.M.S. Orlando's buoy, down to and round a boat moored one mile east of Barrenjoey Heads, and back to flagboat moored off the south side of Fort Denison. About 45 miles. The Australian Champion Yacht Race. (1891, September 12).Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 40. Retrieved from

The yachts that took place in these Easter Cruises were the premier  vessels of their time, many built locally, but some not. They were owned by the wealthier residents, people who were second generation or first generation establishers of larger businesses in Sydney or the governing body. It is the vessels that are remembered and celebrated now; their 'white wings' still sighted out the corners of some misty eyes;

Several of the yachting fleet got under weigh yesterday evening with the intention of making Broken Bay during the night. The Era was first to cast off her moorings, with a fresh southerly breeze. The American schooner yacht Tolna made sail about a quarter of an hour later, and both stood down the harbour. The Isis (s), Iduna, Thelma, Electra and Isea are to leave during the evening. They will be followed this morning by the Archina and several of the smaller yachts, all bound for that charming spot, The Basin, situated in a snug corner on the western shores of Pittwater. It has been the custom for some time past for the Sydney yachting fleet to rendezvous at this place at Easter-time. Hitherto a day's racing has formed part of the proceedings, but so far no arrangements appear to have been made to this end, however, details of this kind-in the hands of yachtsmen-can be fixed up very quickly. It is, therefore, quite possible that on Saturday (tomorrow) something of the sort may eventuate.
EASTER CRUISE. (1895, April 12). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

Isis (s) Mr James R Fairfax; Commodore RSYS – Sir James Reading Fairfax (1834-1919) was born on 17 October 1834 at Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, second son of John Fairfax, newspaper proprietor, and his wife Sarah, née Reading. On 26 September 1838 the family reached Sydney in the Lady Fitzherbert. Fairfax attended St Philip's Church infants' school and W. T. Cape's Sydney College. At 16 he was apprenticed as a printer at the Sydney Morning Herald, then owned by his father and Charles Kemp. A keen yachtsman, he was commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1884-89, 1893-95 and 1904-13; in 1912 he presented the squadron with the Fairfax Cup, engraved with his famous yacht Magic, in which he won many races.
Caroline Simpson, 'Fairfax, Sir James Reading (1834–1919)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,

As a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, of which he was many times commodore, he did much for the sport that is the peculiar grace of Sydney Harbour. For a life time he was a supporter of the famous anniversary regatta. In late years he had been known as the owner of the beautiful steam yacht Isis, which was recently broken up and sold. During the last 20 years his pleasant afternoons on the Isis, entertaining friends or notable visitors, have given great pleasure to all who were privileged to enjoy them, and he will be remembered as the commodore of the yacht squadron, receiving its guests on such notable occasions as the opening of the sailing season.  DEATH OF SIR JAMES FAIRFAX. (1919, March 29). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 7. Retrieved from

Also in 1894, in opening of sailing season held at Cremorne Club of RSYS (later Sir) ; Commodore Samuel HORDERN responded on behalf of the Prince Alfred Yacht Club. ROYAL SYDNEY YACHT SQUADRON. (1894, October 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

The steamer Fort Chalmers, which arrived today torn London, brought out a handsome Steam yacht for Mr. Samuel Hordern. The yacht is named the Bronzewing, and is said to be the largest piece of deck cargo which has ever come here in any vessel. The Fort Chalmers proceeded to Mort's Sheerlegs on arrival, and the yacht was safely lifted into the water. She carries two boats, and her equipment is complete in every respect. In order to guard against the perils of the sea the yacht was made fast in every possible way, and the work of fixing her up for the voyage cost £100. The freight paid for the craft was £750, and if to these items is added the insurance a good round sum will have been added to her original cost. INTERCOLONIAL. (1892, May 26). The Northern Miner(Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

Samuel Hordern also owned ‘White Wings’;

The principal event on Saturday was the P.A.Y.C. fixture for Commodore S. Hordern's lOOgs (100 guineas) trophy. The contest was for all yachts, under best and best conditions. This handsome silver cup has to be won three times by the same owner in his own yacht. Last season, when the trophy was first sailed for it was won by Mr. James Cox, in Herreshoff. Mr. Hordern would not compete for his own trophy, though the presence of his yacht, "White Wings", would have added more interest to the race. The course was about twenty-two miles long; being twice round the club's buoy at Manly. Mr. A. A. Griffiths' recent purchase, Zinita, only arrived from Auckland on Saturday,-but was got ready in time to compete for the cup.  Notes. (1900, January 27). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 53. Retrieved from

Sir Samuel Hordern (1876-1956), merchant and stockbreeder, and Anthony Hordern (1889-1970), grazier and stockbreeder, were born on 24 September 1876 and on 21 February 1889 at Retford Hall, Darling Point, Sydney, eldest and third sons of native-born parents Samuel Hordern and his wife Jane Maria, née Booth. Educated at Sydney Grammar School and Bath College, England, Samuel returned to Sydney in 1895 to work in the family's department store, Anthony Hordern & Sons. He sailed with the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.  Caroline Simpson, 'Hordern, Sir Samuel (1876–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,

The fine weather is evidently inducing a huge number of " campers-out " this year than hitherto. During yesterday evening numbers of craft, from the stately yacht to the miniature canvas dingy, could be seen making their way down the harbour to the various nooks and corners which abound in Middle Harbour, North Harbour, Vaucluse, &c. Several of the larger yachts, including the White Star, Ena, Iduna, Thelma, and Ess, got under weigh yesterday. The Ises and others will follow during the morning, all bound for Broken Bay. Refuge Bay and the Basin will no doubt be the favoured spots chosen by the yachtsmen. The steam yacht Isis will no doubt be in evidence, her favourite spot being Evening Bay, on the eastern shores of Pittwater. The will no doubt be found in Coal and Candle Creek, a tributary of Cowan. Apparently there is plenty of fishing to be had according to report, so that the next few days, provided it remains fine, should be spent very pleasantly.
AQUATICS. (1896, April 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

Thelma and Iduna on Sydney Harbour, circa 1890-1900. Photo by Henry King, Sydney, Australia, Image 85/1285-1226c. courtesy Powerhouse Museum’s Tyrell Collection.

A most enjoyable time was spent during Easter by the yachting fleet. A large number cruised us far as Broken Bay, and were favoured with a fair wind both in going and returning. Amongst the yachts that visited the northern port were : White Star (s.),  Ena (s.), Era, Electra, Iduna, Thelma, Ises, Athens, Sao,  Violet, &c.
EASTER CRUISE. (1896, April 8). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

Sao sailing in the 1888 Balmain Regatta by Henry King, courtesy Powerhouse Museum Tyrell Collection.

Yacht 'Electra' and Sydney from Berry's Bay, courtesy Powerhouse Museum.

ARRIVAL OF THE STEAM YACHT WHITE STAR. At 9 o'clock on Saturday evening a trim and handsome steam yacht flying the blue ensign anchored off the wharf. The little vessel is the White Star, a new addition to the fleet of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and is owned by the Hon. H. R. D. White, M.L.C.(Sydney), who wrote some time ago to M. J. Joubort signifying his intention of paying a visit to the Tasmanian Exhibition. ARRIVAL OF THE STEAM YACHT WHITE STAR. (1892, January 11). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899), p. 2. Retrieved from

During the week the committee of the Prince Alfred Yacht Club discussed at length the arrangement in connection with the camp, which is to be held during the Easter holidays. Sub-committees have been arranged re the steamer, catering, etc. The club canteen will be established on the same basis as in the club room, and refreshments of all descriptions will be obtainable. The locality chosen is on the shores of the Basin, a charming spot on the western shore of Pittwater, Broken Bay. For the convenience of members not proceeding by the yachts it has been decided to place the club steamer Greyhound at their disposal. She will leave the new jetty at Fort Macquarie on Good Friday morning, calling at various places en route to pick up members, boats, &c. On the Saturday following a schnapper fishing outing has been arranged by an enthusiast, starting from the rendezvous for, probably, the northern grounds. The commodore's steam yachts will be in evidence during the holidays, and should fine weather favour them a good time should result. Most of the yachting fleet will be there, and it is anticipated that the camp will break up on Easter Monday evening.
YACHTING. (1900, March 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from

The usual Easter cruise this year promises to eclipse most of those held previously. The Prince Alfred Yacht Club are holding a camp on a fairly large scale, the rendezvous being the Basin, a charming spot on the western shores of Pittwater. All kinds of amusements have been arranged, and the weather is apparently the only thing necessary to make it a success. The club steamer leaves early this morning to convey those members not proceeding by the yachts. She will also leave at 4am tomorrow (Saturday), from Dawes Point, where those who may chance to miss her to-day can be accommodated. Most of the yachts got under way yesterday, and should have a pleasant run along the coast, others will follow today. No doubt many of the smaller craft will find their wa)y to the rendezvous, where they can rely on plenty of fresh water, the harbour shores, of course, will provide ample camping space for those who are not quite so venturesome.  The number taking part this year promises to be much larger than hitherto.
YACHTING. (1900, April 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Later that same year the PAYC had their first permanent premises at Bull Chambers,  14 Moore Street (28 Martin Street, when the street name was changed) were rented and used - Martin Place, formerly known as Moore Street

Prince Alfred Yacht Club. 

The members of the. P.A.Y.C. have now established themselves in remarkably snug quarters in Bull's Chambers, Moore-street, where they have two large and comfortable rooms for themselves. The walls are hung with splendid pictures of well known "flyers," ancient and modern, while in the billiard-room there is a useful gift from the commodore (Mr. S. Hordern). The gift in question is a current chart, and by means of little machinery one is enabled to locate the currents, particularly those of the Southern Ocean, and on the east coast of Australia. The chart is not only useful, but valuable. 

On August 3 the flag officers entertained a number of members and friends at dinner in the new rooms. The object of the gathering was to declare open the additions, and have a "jolly" good time. The both duties were performed right well by all present. The commodore (Mr. Hordern) presided, Mr. Marks (vice commodore) was in the vice-chair, while the rear commodore (Mr. Jones) was also in attendance. The visitors included Messrs. J. A. Minnett (of Royal Sydney Yacht Club), J. 0. Fairfax (Sydney Amateurs), F. J. Donovan (Johnstone Bay), and C. H. Helsham (University Rowing Club). Mr. J. A. Minnett proposed the "P.A.Y.C." in felicitous terms, referring to the good work of a former commodore (Mr. Harden)," then during later year's to what had been done by Mr. S. Hordern. Mr. Minnett expressed pleasure at being, present, and congratulated the club upon its present successful position. 

The commodore, in responding, made a humorous speech. Afterwards he became, serious, and offered sound advice to the members of his club. They were now a powerful club, and to remain powerful it was necessary that they should pull "together". Further, they had made up their minds to make yachting one of the foremost sports of New South Wales. Mr. Marks also responded, and in the course of a capital speech, reminded the gathering that the P.A.Y.C. had a "good officer in Mr. Syd. Dempster. Speeches of a more or less humorous characters, were also delivered by Dr. Burne, Messrs. Dempster, Harris, and Jones. "Kindred Clubs" was the next toast honored, and it was drunk with enthusiasm, and acknowledged by Messrs. Minnett, Donovan, Fairfax, and Helsham. The meeting then resolved itself into "harmony." Songs were contributed by Messrs. Rainford, Watson, Lynch, and others. Selections were also given by De Groen's band. Mr. Harris was secretary for the evening, and is deserving of the heartiest praise for his efforts-in connection with the movement. YACHTING. (1900, August 11). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 54. Retrieved from

Notes. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron opened the season on Saturday, and quite a fleet of yachts shook out the canvas, which has been housed for some time, but which will now continue to "slack or fill" for some months to come. The R.S.Y.S. made a capital show, about ten boats taking part. The commodore (Mr. T. A. Dibbs) headed the flotilla, and hoisted the signal, "Follow me in line," which the yachts did, and as they got well under way a pleasing sight was witnessed. The commodore was out in his own fine yacht Ena, and after maneuvering for some time headed for Athol Bight, where anchorage was found. The fleet moored where convenient, and all the available bunting was run up. The sight was picturesque, but a little more sunshine would have added to the splendour of the scene. The commodore next ran up a signal, "Join me on board the Ena." The invitation was responded to, and quite a large gathering was soon enjoying the hospitality af the amiable and genial commodore. Some impromptu speechmaking was indulged in, the chief speaker being Mr. W.Marks, who proposed the health of Mr. T. A. Dibbs, commodore of the R.S.Y.C. The toast was received and honoured with enthusiasm. Mr. Dibbs made a suitable acknowledgment, after which the squadron parted company. Among those on board the Ena at the rendezvous were: Messrs. A. G. Milson, J. O. Fairfax, G. T. Brockhoff, T. H. Kelly, P. H. O. Meagher, S. M. Dempter, J. A. Soutar, Dr. M'Cormack, A. G. Grant,T. B. Dibbs, J. A. Minnett, W. .Hixson, A. S. D. Hay (Victoria), W. M. Marks(vice-commodore P.A.Y.C.), R. Masisie, A. R. Maras, S. T. Wilson, and others. The yachts participating included the Olthona, Fleetwing, Lahloo, Cooya, Electra, Thelma, Culwulla, Oenone, Ada, and Petrel. The steamer Agenora was placed at the disposal of visitors.  Notes. (1902, October 22). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 53. Retrieved from



With favourable weather the Princo Alfred Yacht Club's Easter camp, at the "Basin," Broken Bay, proved an unqualified success. Those who attended describe it as eclipsing any previous outing, accent perhaps the initial one. The campers who did not go in the yachts either went by the club steamer Greyhound or else went overland to Church Point, from which place daily communication was kept up with tile camp. The usual concerts, sports, and excursions were indulged in. Musical items were contributed by Messrs. P. Portus, S. .Stevens, W. E. Moore, H. Muston, .J. Muston, F.G. Fleming, -Robilliard, and F. Cray. Mr. N. H. Murray (rear-commodore) entertained the members at a steam launch excursion up Cowan reaches. Mr. C. M. Johnson then took the campers for a run round Pittwater in his motor yacht Meteor. The cricket match between the yachtsmen and a shore contingent ended in a win for the former. The race for one-design dingies attracted a lot of interest, resulting in a dead heat between Awanui and Heather, sailed by Messrs. A. May and V. Brown respectively. Mr. J. C. Benn won the first sculling race, and Mr. W. S. Pears the second. The club dinner went very well, some 61 or 60 sitting down. Mr. Robilliard proposed "The P.A.Y. Club," and Mr. A. C. Saxton (vice-commodore) responded. Mr. Donovan proposed the health of "The Visitors," which was responded to by Mr. P. Portus.

Amongst the yachts moored in the bay were: Awanui (A. C. Saxton), Heather (X. H. Murray), Carnasslc (H. Cox), Violet (F. J. Jackson), Meteor .(C. M. Johnson), Aona (A. Dixson), Dacia (S. Stevens), White Wings (J. Muston), Nanoya (T. Marshall), Fairlie (S. H. Fairland), Ariel (C. Fleming), Cooya (A W. Beach), Petrel (P. Trebeck), Kurnell (R. Miller), Gertrude (- Lister), Athene (D. Carment), and Mr. Gardem's launch. Fine weather prevailed for the run home down inc. coast, a fresh north-east breeze making the sail a most enjoyable one. SAILING. (1907, April 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 10. Retrieved from

The past season will live long In the memory of those interested in the sport, but the memories will be both sad and pleasant. Sad on account of the loss of a popular yachts-man-Mr. Walter Moore-and also the loss of a gallant ship in Sydney Harbour after having weathered the storms of 21 years, including a voyage to Port Phillip and back as recently as 1909. Throughout the season the weather was of a most variable character, with southerly winds predominating, but although five of the days were far from satisfactory for sailing, there were some very pleasant outings, especially for the ocean races. Among the noteworthy performances were the wonderful sailing of Thelma from Botany in the Carleton Cup when she sailed through Culwulla III.'s lee and scored her lost victory; the work in the heavy rain squalls at Manly during the race for the Fairfax Cup, when both yachtsmen and yachts were in danger, but with skilful handling they came through without accident; the exciting finish for the Rawson Cup between Sayonara and White wings; also the sailing of Petrel and Magic in the big sea and hard blow on the day that Thelma met with disaster.

During the past season fresh interstate honours were gained for the mother State, and for the first time the Northcote Cup came to Sydney through the medium of Messrs. Albert and Sayer's six-metre yacht Rawhiti II. The cup having been lifted from Victoria, the next contest for it will take place in New South Wales waters. The season was opened by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron on October 12, when a squadron afternoon was held at the Club House, from where some interesting racing by the open boats was witnessed by a large number of members and their families, the commodore, Dr A Mac Cormick, being in command. A week later the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club celebrated the opening of the season by a rendezvous of yachts under the lee of Steel Point, where a miniature regatta was held.

The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club held races on 10 afternoons, and one all-day race for the Basin Cup. Included in the afternoon races were two events for cruisers and a race for motor boats, but the last named event fell through for want of entries The most successful boat in this club was Culwulla III (Mr W M Marks, winning his own trophy), with four firsts, two seconds and two thirds, Rawhitti (Messers. F Albeit and E E. Sayers)being next with two firsts, two seconds, and two thirds Then follow Petrel (Mr C Trebeck), two firsts two seconds, and one third, Sunbeam (Mr A. W. Crane), two firsts and one second, Thelma (Mr C Lloyd Jones), one first and three thirds, Yeulba (Mr A L Mullens) one first, one second and one third, Rawhiti II (F Albert and E E Sayers),one first, and one second, Aoma (Messrs A. Wadsworth and C E Fleming), two seconds and one third Sayonara (Mr P Ross), two seconds and one third. SAILING. (1913, April 16). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

Rawhiti on Pittwater - frequent competitor in Pittwater Regattas, image courtesy the Australian National Maritime Musueum. Image No.: 00011552

Sir Alexander MacCormick's yacht Morna, the largest vessel of her type in these waters, was successfully launched from the yards of the builders, Messrs. Morrison and Sinclair, Balmain, yesterday afternoon. As the craft ran down the ways Mrs. Adrian Knox named her the Morna, and broke a bottle of Australian wine on her bows. The guests were entertained in the saloon. 
The Morna, which is 65 feet long with a 13 feet beam, was designed by Mr. William Fife, of Fairlie, Scotland, to Sir Alexander's order, and the builders have produced a fine vessel. She will be used for cruising. A four-cylinder 12 horsepower Kelvin engine has been Installed, which should develop about five knots an hour. The propeller is collapsible. The interior of the yacht is finished in Queensland maple, with bronze and silverplate fittings. The accommodation comprises a saloon, a dining saloon, and a ladies' cabin. 'There are five bunks for guests and two for the crew in a well-fitted forecastle. The hull is of teak, especially imported, with a frame work of colonial hardwood, and is copper-fastened throughout. The cockpit, which is self-emptying, has a watertight coaming around it to keep out the deckwash. In the cockpit the carburetter is kept in a watertight box, and is under the control of the helmsman. The benzine tanks are on deck, and there is no danger from fire or explosion. The mast and spars were also imported.  The smaller spars are of the patent hollow type. The mast will be stepped and the rigging completed immediately, and the vessel, it is expected, will be ready for her owner within two or three weeks. The Morna has a draught of eight feet, and should displace about 30 tons. MORNA LAUNCHED. (1913, August 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from

Right Picture: WINNER AT PITTWATER REGATTA. Morna (R. C. Packer) winner of the John Roche handicap,passing the flagship after the race.WINNER AT PITTWATER REGATTA. (1934, January 1). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from

Sailing was MacCormick's great pleasure. He bought the yacht, Thelma, and successfully raced her in the 1890s. Joining the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1893, he was commodore in 1897-1900 and in 1913-20. In 1913 he had built a cutter, Morna, for cruising. He was a founder and first commodore of the Prince Edward Yacht Club in 1920. In 1927 he visited Scotland to supervise the building of a schooner, Ada. With four others he sailed her through the Panama Canal reaching Sydney after a four-month voyage. He was made a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes and became the only yachtsman on Sydney Harbour privileged to fly the white ensign.
Douglas Miller, 'MacCormick, Sir Alexander (1856–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,


Morna (R. C. Packer), the winner, is second from the right. Utiekah II. (H. Nossiter), which came second, is on the extreme right. The third boat, Norn (A. F. Albert), is on the extreme left. The Victorian visitors, Toogooloowoo II. (B22) and Vanessa (R4), were fifth and fourth respectively.  JUST AFTER THE START OF THE R.P.A.Y.C. RACE ON SATURDAY FOR THE BASIN CUP. (1932, January 18). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 12. Retrieved from

Morna became Mr F Packer’s for a while before being owned by Sir Claude Plowman in 1950’s.


Yacht "Morna" rounding the buoy. Crewman up on halyard at Pittwater Regatta. Photo by Sam Hood, Jan 1st, 1934. Courtesy State Library of NSW.


Easter Cruises to Pittwater threads collected by A J Guesdon, 2013.