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In Australia, the barquentine New Endeavour had been the focal point of many Australians who had an interest in sailing ships. Many came and looked, some sailed on cruises or day trips, and a few won places in the crew. The future of New Endeavour was unclear but the crew wished to continue the seafaring way of life and to bring the pleasure of life on board a true sailing vessel to others. It was therefore decided to obtain a vessel of their own.
What was needed was a vessel that could be restored or converted to full square rig and could be sailed to Australia and perhaps around the world.
It was all very well to have great plans and enthusiasm, but little could be achieved without a lot of money and a lot of hard work. The Australians did not mind the work, but money was a problem. Hulls that may have been suitable for restoration or conversion were examined in Australia and overseas, but all were either in poor condition, the wrong size or type, or just too expensive.
A network of friends established over many years and living in several countries provided information on potential vessels that were up for sale. One such contact in Sweden wrote in 1972 that he had heard of a burnt-out hull laid up in Gothenburg and thought that it was of the right size and might meet the requirements. Haste was going to be of prime importance as it was known that the owners intended to cut the vessel down for use as a barge if no suitable buyer was found.
A decision had to be made quickly. Information about the vessel was found in many sources, Lloyds registers and the like, and many hours were spent in discussion. It was agreed that this was a case of 'now or never'. So the decision was made to go to Europe and view the vessel.
The Australians assembled in England at a friend's house just outside Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and it was from there that two of them went to Gothenburg to look at the vessel and make a decision. It was a cold trip over on the ferry and, on arrival, everything looked miserable. When the hull was inspected, the deck was covered in snow and the tarpaulins covering the open spaces were stiff with cold. But a quick survey showed that beneath the snow and fire damage the vessel had great possibilities. It was certainly the best that they had seen for some time. Back in the office, over a welcome hot drink the vessel's sale was discussed, and, after a period of indecision, a price was agreed upon and the contract was signed. The vessel had its new owners on 14th February 1973. The late owners kindly supplied accommodation in their home that night, and a 'phone call to England let the others know that the purchase had been made.
Over a period of several years, items thought to be of use during a conversion or restoration had been purchased and stored in Sydney. There were wooden blocks from scrapped ships and ex-RAN equipment. Many hours had been spent removing fittings and furnishings, including panelling and windows from the bridge and the exterior doors from the Karra Karra, Sydney's last vehicular ferry, which had been scrapped at Blackwattle Bay. All these items which had been stored in friends' houses were brought together, crated and sent by container to Sweden in readiness for the restoration work. Some people flew to Sweden while others went by sea, taking their tools with them. The project had started.
Re-construction in Gothenburg, Sweden. Note small living hut - top right
The steering gear, Gothenburg.