An Introduction to European Shipbuilding in the South West Pacific

By Clifford W. Hawkins, published August 1971


European shipbuilding started in earnest, in the Pacific, in the late 18c, and this article details many of the early vessels constructed in the area; primarily in Eastern Australia and New Zealand. Some of their voyages and cargoes are described, but the article is more concerned with who constructed them and how. The vessels were predominantly, though not exclusively, schooners, some of which survived into the 20c, despite their heyday having been in the late 19c.  Lack of transport was a major issue when Europeans colonised new lands. So it was in the south west Pacific Ocean in the early 1800s, where the need for inter-island trade highlighted the need for shipping. Hawkins explains the difficulties faced by the early shipbuilders, be it a lack of skills or rigging materials. The difficulties were eventually overcome and from early crude beginnings the vessels of the south west Pacific developed into seaworthy and reliable cargo-carriers; the best standing comparison with Californian schooners.

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Pacific
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Shipbuilding & Design

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