SAIL

CAREENING IN CROC COUNTRY

On December 23, 1816, His Majesty’s cutter Mermaid was launched in Calcutta, India. Built of solid teak and sheathed with copper, she was 56ft long and weighed 84 tons, with a beam of 18ft 6in and a 9ft draft. Australian-born Royal Navy captain Philip Parker King commanded the Mermaid on three voyages to explore and survey the Australian coast between 1817 and 1822. As we sailed through the Kimberley region in the northwestern part of Australia on our Herreshoff H28, Sam, we crossed King’s wake several times.

Rugged and remote, with many parts still unsurveyed, the Kimberley is well off the beaten track and very few private boats take on the challenge of cruising there. Thirty-foot tides, 8-knot currents, river bar crossings, saltwater crocodiles and a lack of phone coverage or anywhere to reprovision are all tests for those who venture into these waters.

Our adventure started at Adele Island, where my partner, Danny, and I intended to was built, the Royal Navy pioneered the use of copper sheathing to protect its ships from the effects of marine plants and animals growing on the underwater hull. In a modern form, has Coppercoat antifouling, which requires regular scrubbing, as did the sheathing.

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