May Queen Timeline
The SV May Queen is Australia’s oldest sail trading vessel and is one of only a handful of wooden vessels of its era still afloat in the world.
The following outline lists the historical milestones over the vessels 106 years of working life.
Construction of ketch commenced at Franklin-based on wooden scale model by Alexander Lawson for William Thorp. Built of stringy bark and blue gum. Planks fastened with trunnels.
5 June 1867
May Queen launched at Franklin
13 Aug 1867
Owner registered as William Thorpe of Franklin
15 Aug 1867
Owner registered as John White tobacconist of Hobart
22 Aug 1867
Alexander Lawson died of heart attack
8 Jan 1868 & 1 Dec 1868
May Queen won first of many Hobart Regatta Trading Ketch races Master W Nichols and in December Master T Oldham.
25 April 1870
Owner registered as William Bell farmer of Franklin Island
23 Jan 1871
Regatta race 1st place master William Bell
29 Jan 1872
Regatta race 2nd place master William Bell collided with a boat on davits of HMS Clive and progress slowed until disengaged 100 yards later.
27 July 1873
Between 9 and 10 o'clock the wind, which had been light from the west, suddenly shifted to S.W., and came up in a heavy squall, and catching several of the river craft bound down, they had to turn tail and run for shelter. One of them, the barge May Queen, got caught before she could round to, and her mizzen was blown out of the bolt ropes, her mizzentop carried away, and the crosstrees came rattling down on deck, striking one of the crew on the head, and for the time rendering him insensible; but he soon rallied, and with the exception of a cut and a bruise was none the worse. The May Queen, and other craft got safely into port.
18 Aug 1873
May Queen and Hero left Southport at 1100am and arrived in Hobart at 500pm laden with timber from Chesterman and Hay sawmill at Southport. 6 hour trip.
7 Sept 1873
Officially purchased by Henry Chesterman sawmiller of Hobart
27 Feb 1875
MQ sailed for Garden Island Creek loaded with a 40hp boiler for installation in a new sawmill for Henry C and partners.
5 Dec 1877
Regatta race. MQ was leading when the passage boat Crystal Wave capsized and went to the assistance of her crew. The race was reheld on 7/12 in blustery conditions and after part of her rigging gave way May Queen (which was favourite) retired.
8 Feb 1882
Regatta race 2nd, master H. Chesterman, after Korunah, ahead of Coral. One and All, Tasman and River Chief.
4 June 1883
Collision with the steamship Esk in Storm Bay after leaving Port Arthur. Bowsprit broken off and the boom struck by the stern of the Esk. No serious damage but an inquiry conducted under the Wrecks Inquiries Act.
15 July 1883
After leaving Port Arthur with timber struck a strong Werly gale off Adventure Bay. The mizzen broke off at deck level going over the side with sails rigging and fittings and being lost. Stayed overnight in Wedge Bay and came to Hobart rigged as a cutter.
26 Jan 1885
MQ ran into the yacht ‘Foam’ off Lucas’ slip and caused the loss of her mast. MQ undamaged.
16 Feb 1888
MQ under Capt E McKavoy sank between Police Point and Huon Island in about 17 fathoms of water after being hit by a sudden squall. No loss of life and the vessel was dragged in to 8 fathoms by the ‘One and All’ and the ‘Alabama’ by the 16th March and raised without difficulty.
1896 Christmas Day photograph taken at Raminea on the Esperance River with Jim Miley, Alf Nicholls and Joe Connors.
Henry Chesterman dies and ownership transfers to wife Mary Chesterman
1 Sept 1924
MQ sold to Alan C Boxall and former truck engine fitted
19 Dec 1925
MQ had a collision near Princes Wharf with the ferry Kangaroo under Capt O’May. Hit amidships and the rail and several of the MQ stanchions were carried away
MQ used to carry coal from Catamaran to Electrona Carbide Works. Also other goods under contract.
29 Feb 1940
MQ repurchased from Boxall by Chesterman & Co
9th &12th Feb 1946
2 Races (Victory Regatta). May Queen won both, helmsman W. Bluett Enterprise second on both occasions.
MQ last regatta win.
Final sail trading ketches regatta race MQ second
MQ modified to utilitarian role with shortened bowsprit and topmasts. Centrecase removed to allow greater timber stowage. Crew reduced to 2 instead of 3.
16 Aug 1966
Heading out from Hobart and off Taroona the stern of the MQ was lifted briefly out of the water by a whale that then surfaced alongside. It was about 21m long. Both entities proceeding on their way with no damage.
14 Dec 1972
Technical piracy. Crewman W Evans was charged when he took the MQ to sea without a masters certificate after a disagreement with the skipper T Tuttle. Fined $50
30 June 1973
Chesterman & Co sold to a consortium of Tasmanian based timber companies with sale condition requiring preservation of MQ.
1 July 1973
MQ ownership transferred to H Jones & Co
3 Jan 1974
Final commercial trip after 105 years of service
16 May 1975
MQ ownership transferred to Marine Board of Hobart and then Hobart Ports Corporation. Displayed in Watermans Dock
Marine Board partial restoration by Jack Charlston, Wayne Berrins, Trevor Tuttle and others to sailing rig. Old deckhouse and engine removed. New chainplates, deadeyes and topmasts made. Bowsprit from Huon Chief fitted. Masts removed, repaired and refitted deck seams recaulked and pitch filled .
10 March 1996
Headline’ May Queen Rotting Away’
3 June 1997
Formation of "Friends of the May Queen" (FMQ) to lobby for preservation program to be initiated.
Previous 10 years
Deck severely rotted, no through flow of air to the interior of the hull. Deck beams and lodging knees rotted especially at ends adjacent to covering boards. Significant rot through many of the frames especially fore due to fresh water entering through the deck.
Completion of 'Staples Report' detailing the current condition of the vessel; and examining preservation options, and feasibility of rebuilding the vessel.
FMQ apply a Commonwealth Govt grant under the Centenary of Federation Funding
Saturated (12%) borate solution spray treatment of interior of the vessel using Polybor (sodium octaborate).by Bob Chesterman and Bill Foster.
28 Nov 1999
Hobart Ports Corporation passed ownership to non-profit organisation May Queen P/L as trustees.
26 April 2000
Ken Jones appointed as shipwright with technical input for the project from Bill Foster
Commencement of laying of temporary plywood deck cover to eliminate rainwater ingress. Receipt of grants of $20,000 from Hobart Ports and $20,000 from C’wealth Govt.
8 June 200
Removal of mizzen mast and rigging for refurbishment
4 Aug 2000
Slipping, cleaning caulking by John Harrod and repainting.
13 Sept 2000
Completion of initial Conservation and Management Plan
Removal of stern celery top pine deck. Forward mooring chains lowered to water level to reduce weight on weakened prow.
29 June 2001
Installation of temporary steel lifting gantry (crane) in the stern to provide support and lifting capability of hull planks whilst replacement frames are fitted. Port side stern corner lifted 50mm to return original sheer to vessel using gradual turnbuckle lift.
Awarded Community Fund Grant of $50,000
11 March 2002
Mark Singleton started as replacement shipwright following excellent work by K Jones.
17 July 2002
Slipping to allow fastening of planks to new internal frames. Replacement of 2 planks below the waterline
Install initial laminated deck beam and fit steel breasthook. Install laminated frames and finalise stermpost
Fit new celery top pine stanchions.
Three ‘ Work for the Dole’ persons commenced attendance. Repairs to masts and spars and wire rigging. Fit above waterline planks.
Slipping to fasten planks to new stanchions and frames. Spline and recaulk seams, apply antifouling paint
April - Aug 2003
Inspect, grease and serve wire rigging, refurbish blocks and running rigging. Refit main and mizzen masts and spars.
Moved from Watermans Dock to Prince of Wales Bay for wharf side deck and cabin reconstruction
16 Jan 2004
Flagship at Sandy Bay Regatta
Feb – June 2004
Remainder of interior frames fitted, deck fittings replaced or renewed
To end 2004
Completion of centreboard and winding gear. Slipping and 2 planks replaced.
9 Feb 2005
Moved from Watermans to Constitution Dock.
12 –14 Feb 2005
MQ featured in publicity brochure for Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Open for public inspections.
Slipping and replacement of underwater planks, caulking and painting
Coating of deck planks, preservation and finalising rope rigging, fitting of electrical switchboard for lights
Open for inspection as part of Heritage Week
2006 to date
Regular Thursday maintenance day with volunteers attending
Open for public inspection during Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Approximately 1,000 visitors over 3 days
First wedding conducted on board with guests on Mawsons Place
Construction of replica MQ dingy by Bill Foster and Rose Bay High school students.
Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Strong interest in May Queen. Annual slipping at Domain slip.
Australian Wooden Boat Festival.
Commonwealth grant to remove and refurbish masts
Returned to Constitution Dock following major 10 year maintenance program.