The Wonderful World of Ships’ Cats, Dogs and Birds: The Museum of Maritime Pets

May 2021

This week Dr Sam Willis explores the heart-warming story of maritime pets by speaking with Pat Sullivan from the excellent Museum of Maritime Pets. There is a centuries-old tradition of animals living on or near water, and collaborating with man (and woman) in both peace and war. Pat has spent a great deal of time documenting these animals’ contributions and promoting the safe and humane treatment of animals who live or work on or near waterways in our modern world. From live-saving and courageous Newfoundlands swimming to the rescue, to chatty parrots, and cats that can catch fish, you will never think the same way about pets and the maritime world ever again.

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    Sam Willis

    From the Society for Nautical Research, in partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, I’m Sam Willis and this is the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history.

    Good morning everyone and welcome to the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast. This week we are considering the heart-warming subject of maritime pets. So first up, if you have a maritime pet, a ship’s cat or dog or frog or pigeon, do get in touch. I have a working cocker spaniel called Geronimo, who quivers with excitement and fear every time I take him on a boat, he’s basically only happy in the water rather than on it and sees a boat trip as a form of evil torture, in which he is denied the chance to swim; he’s more like an otter than a spaniel, I think, Anyway, enough of my maritime pet. First things first, do please get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, and send us photos of your maritime pets.

    Today I’m talking with Pat Sullivan, who runs the excellent Museum of Maritime Pets. The Museum of Maritime Pets, established in 2006, explores and interprets the role of domestic animals on sea voyages from ancient times to the present. It is the only museum of its kind in the world and celebrates the contributions of pets to war and peace time maritime pursuits. One of the advantages that the Museum of Maritime Pets has had over other small museums during the pandemic is that it is virtual, it lives online, and we will be doing our best to help spread the word about projects like this. In fact, now is a good chance to give a shout out to my good friend Timmy Gambin from the University of Malta, who runs ‘Underwater Malta’ an astonishingly good virtual museum of the shipwrecks around the Maltese coast, and he will be featuring on a podcast soon. Anyway, back to the Museum of Maritime Pets: the museum began in 2020, formulating plans for travelling exhibits, lectures and all sorts of other collaborative programs with museums and libraries across America. COVID-19 soon halted those efforts. Though I was particularly interested to read about the planned collaboration with the Maine Lighthouse Museum. The point here, of course, is that animals not only have a long association with ships and the sea, but also an association with lighthouses around the world, not only as pack animals, which helped haul building materials to construct new lighthouses, but also as mascots and rescuers. While most lights are now automated, there are still several around the world which have keepers and their little mascots on duty year round. So, I’m looking forward to that in the coming months. They also have a major initiative going on to digitise their visual archive compiled from worldwide sources. Their images include very early black and white photos and sketches sent by collectors and researchers who have stumbled across them in the course of their own projects. That’s the beauty I think of the history of maritime pets. It’s the kind of subject that you come across whilst researching something else. So, I’m sure that many of you active researchers out there will suddenly go, “oh, I’ve got an example”. Well, if you do, get in touch, share it, and we’ll get it across to the Museum of Maritime Pets. Anyway, here is Pat, to tell you more about her wonderful museum.

    Hi, Pat, it’s lovely to speak to you.

    Pat Sullivan

    Hi, Sam. It’s very nice to meet you, too, face to face.

    Sam Willis

    Tell me all about this wonderful Museum of Maritime Pets.

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, you’re so sweet. We started in 2006, kind of as a result of some worldwide exhibitions that had been going on. I think the first of which was at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich called ‘Animals at Sea’, and it also produced a book. Simultaneously with that exhibit, there was another one at the Imperial War Museum called ‘Animals at War’, and one of the museums in Australia (I can’t remember if it was the National Libraries of Australia, it doesn’t really matter) also had an exhibit about seafaring animals. And I happened to find these, and I thought there’s something going on here. So, being a historian and a former museum administrator, I thought this would make a great museum. And so as simple as that, I set up a website, and almost immediately I emailed a few people to get information, and I started being inundated with photographs, stories. Some of them were from retired military, many of them from World War Two, but also the Korean War and later. And some were sending me links to other archives and libraries. And then, you know, it just kept mushrooming. So, in 2009, we actually incorporated and became a formal museum. And we’re virtual, but we hope to have walls very soon because we’ve got a lot to exhibit!

    Sam Willis

    You have just been collecting things people have been sending into you, I can see stuff piled up in the background actually.

    Pat Sullivan

    Well, it’s all digitally piled. But what you see in the background is our little bit of our library and some stuffed toys. Most museums, of course, own and exhibit tangible objects and our tangible objects are mostly digital, so you can’t see them unless you access them online or wherever. But we do have our little props, like if you can see Hatch, the Mary Rose dog. And next to him is Sinbad of the Coast Guard – he was a very famous World War Two mascot. But most, like I say, most of our objects are digital. But we’ve had since the inception, we’ve had normal museum programs, library readings, exhibits, exchange programs with other museums. One of our most, I would say popular exhibits was one we borrowed from what’s called the Esquimalt CFB Museum in Canada (it’s Combined Force Base, which is their military services all combined). But their naval component did a wonderful exhibit called ‘Creature Comforts’, so that was one of our most popular exhibits. And there just seems to be around the world, particularly in tough times, like what we’re going through now, animals bring out this warm and fuzzy nature of people. Because I think we all want something nice to hold on to, to admire, to think about – kind of takes the edge off.

    Sam Willis

    Yes, it does. And you can really understand how people had, you know, very close relationships with pets on ships.

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, most definitely.

    Sam Willis

    What are the – how long has this been going on for, do you think? Have you got any information on, what’s the oldest example? What have you come across?

    Pat Sullivan

    Well, we’ve come across – of course, much of it is hearsay, no written documentation – we know the Egyptians took their cats on their sailing barges. And besides doing pest control on land, the Egyptians also used their boat cats to hunt. So, the cats would flesh out birds along the shore, which would then be shot. So, they were working cats so to speak. We also know that it was the Phoenicians who brought cats to Egypt. But the Phoenicians didn’t leave any writing behind darnit! And we also are, I’ve read that the Phoenicians also travelled with dogs and the national dog of Malta, which resembles the dogs with the pointed noses that you see in Egyptian tombs, are believed by the people in Malta to have been brought there originally by the Phoenicians.

    Sam Willis

    Wow! That’s a great story.

    Pat Sullivan

    I’ve also heard when I go to conferences – of course, people always come and tell me stories, I don’t know if half of them are true – but I’ve been told that the Norse travelled with a type of dog that they call the Norwegian Elkhound, but I don’t think back then they were referred to as elkhounds; they’re a Spitz-type dog. And then other people have told me the Polynesians travelled between the islands with dogs, I have no idea. I’ve never seen them in pictures, but I like to think that that may have been true.

    Sam Willis

    Yeah, it’s interesting whether they were there as just accompaniment or whether they had a working aspect to it. The Vikings were very practical folk, I suspect that they had some kind of a working aspect, which is really interesting. But you guys are interested in an appreciation of animals living or working on or near the water. So, it’s not necessarily just about animals on ships as a more of a land base side to this as well, isn’t there?

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes, one of my favourite animals is the penguin because, as you know, well penguins are on all the continents, but especially in Antarctica. They’ve been like the welcoming party to exploring ships, and you can see it. I mean, if you google penguins in Antarctica you can come up with videos. In fact, there’s a famous incident that happened a few years ago a Russian research ship became iced in – it actually trapped – and they had to be helicoptered, the crew had to be helicoptered out. But the ice was in packs and, you know, mountains, there was no flat area where the helicopter could land. And there’s a video that actually shows a huge crowd of penguins’ kind of tamping the snow down. I mean, they did it on their own. Of course, they weren’t commandeered. But they created a landing strip. So, I think, and you often see pictures of penguins walking out or waddling out to greet the people getting off the exploring ships. And of course, the other friendly animal that was never on a boat, but dolphins; centuries-old stories, pictures, going back to Greek times of dolphins on ceramics and different pieces of pottery. But we know that they’ve always had a playful relationship with man.

    Sam Willis

    Yes, and an inspirational one. I mean I remember reading some 18th-century journals of Germans, who may never have actually seen the sea before they were sailing across to the United States in the 1770s to fight in the American war. They were astonished by the nature that they were seeing on their journey. And it wasn’t about pets it was more about seeing that the fish in the sea and seeing the birds in the sky, and they were kind of, you know, wrapped up with this, this new love of the world that they were living in.

    Pat Sullivan

    Fascinating.

    Sam Willis

    In terms of people having actual pets on board. I mean, the only stories I really know about this are from the Second World War, I think. I’m not very knowledgeable. Have you come across stories from before then?

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes. Well, you know, Nathaniel, I mean, Matthew Flinders, explored the coast of Australia, mapped Australia, made several circumnavigations in the late 1700s, very early 1800s, he actually had a cat, who accompanied him on three of his ships; cat’s name was Trim. So, that’s one of the earliest written documents in fact, Trim – Matthew Flinders was later arrested on the island of Mauritius – and unfortunately Trim didn’t stay with Matthew, Trim was spirited sway, and we don’t know what happened to him exactly. But Flinders was so stricken by the loss of his cat that he wrote this memoir. So that was written I think, in 1803, very early. There was a cat on one of Shackleton’s expeditions who accompanied the ship’s carpenter. So, the cat kind of became an unofficial mascot of the endurance. And of course, the cat and the sledge dogs, at the very end had to be sacrificed because of lack of food. So that’s an early 20th century. And there are also many, many stories, starting with World War One where I guess sailors kept journals and also started sketching animals on their ships.

    Sam Willis

    Oh, that’s lovely. So, there’s an interesting kind of visual aspect to this as well.

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes, yes. In fact, there was a famous cat during World War One named Oscar who I think was on a German ship. It got torpedoed, the cat ended up swimming to a piece of flotsam and was picked up by a second ship. That ship was bombed, and the cat was picked up a third time by the British. And he lived out his days on land, but so that cat actually saw battle and he swam.

    Sam Willis

    So, we’ve got – there are written accounts, there are visual accounts. I suspect there are many photos from the Second World War, aren’t there?

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, there are hundreds of them. Yes. And then, unfortunately, after – in the early 50s, right after the World Wars – most of the services around the world started not allowing pets on board because of the fear of disease or reasons really not too convincing as far as I’m concerned. And you know, I know merchant ships still have animals aboard, sometimes they’re stowaways that may get on at one port and get off at another port. But I think it’s really important even nowadays with internet and games and television, cards, people still would like to have an animal or two aboard. I really think so.

    Sam Willis

    I think that I think that would be nice. I’m sure there are lots of people out there on yachts who make their homes on boats who have pets to be with them.

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes. And some of those people actually have blogs. And we follow some of those. There’s one in northern Scotland, well he actually travels around the Scottish islands, but his name is Salty Sea Cat. And he blogs, of course, nobody’s travelling now but in the good old days, he would blog almost daily. And we’ve had an ambassador at sea, who was a cat who lived and sailed in the Mediterranean up until recently. So yes, yachtsman, keep parrots, cats, dogs, occasionally, monkeys and other smaller animals.

    Sam Willis

    Well, you also mentioned horses. Tell me about horses at sea.

    Pat Sullivan

    People don’t think about horses, but they are one of the I would say the most important maritime animals. You’re familiar with the Bayeux Tapestry it’s one of the earliest visual images of horses sailing. And of course, early explorers took their horses, so they’d have transport when they landed in their new world or new territory. But horses have also been used for rescue work. The Coast Guard, at least in this country, and I’m sure probably in others, would often be used to haul out the rescue boats, which were very heavy. So, the horses would kind of haul them out to a point in the water where the men could then get on board and sail off. And conversely, when the boats would come back to shore, the horses would be used to pull them in. And horses, of course, were used in wartime. And especially in the Asian theatre during World War Two, you know, they were pack and transport animals, but they also had to swim across rivers. And horses were also used along the canals, towing the barges. They were also used on ferries, and they gave the name to horsepower. Because in the early 19th century horses were – there were two forms of horsepower – the horses would basically be on a treadmill, onboard deck, and that would propel the ship, or the boat, barge, whatever. So, horses have been a huge part of maritime animal contributions.

    Sam Willis

    The Bayeux Tapestry it’s wonderful. You have all of these images of William’s ships, don’t you, and you can just make out the heads of his horses. So, we know he brought horses across, but there’s a problem that because horses are notoriously seasick, and they take a while to get their legs sorted out, don’t they?

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes, and I know that channel crossing was probably rough, but I guess they made it.

    Sam Willis

    There’s some belief, I think that they used horse transports from the Mediterranean – that there was an existing technology in the Mediterranean (talking off the top of my head here but it’s in the depths somewhere) that someone had already solved the problem of horses and horse transports and there was, you know like the World War Two landing craft that had the kind of the bows that came down and all the troops charge off, well they designed something similar for horses in the Mediterranean around about the early 11th century. So, the 1000s, and that technology passed through Europe and then William of Normandy used that to take the horses across the channel.

    Pat Sullivan

    I had no idea because you know, those ships had the very high ends like the almost like Viking ships, but they must have carved something into the bow.

    Sam Willis

    The only other thing you can do is if you have a Viking style ship, which is what the Norman’s used, is you tilt it like that. So, you wait until the tide goes out and then you can te and third lock tilt it which, or you attach something to the top of the mast pull it over, and that allows your horse to gently step onboard without putting his enormous battle hooves through the hull of your ship.

    Pat Sullivan

    That would make me seasick!

    Sam Willis

    It’s one of the big mysteries of the Norman conquest and I’d love someone to do a bit more research about that. So, that’s my request to listeners – please find out about 11th-century horse transport.

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, I bet you’ll get a good response. I had never heard that before. This is what’s so wonderful about this type of museum. You know, we’re not locked in; we’re not prisoners within our walls. We kind of – the world is our oyster and it’s just wonderful in this day and age of social media and in social, you know, platforms like zoom – where would you find out this kind of information, it might take you years and suddenly you’ll probably get 1000 tweets this afternoon.

    Sam Willis

    We will. So, for everyone listening if you know stories of (either in history or even in the present day) of people with pets on their ships do please let us know. And we’ll pass them on to the Museum of Maritime Pets. When we exchange emails before we had this meeting, I was interested, primarily, about cats and dogs, I suppose just because I came across examples of that when looking at my own family history because my grandfather was in the Royal Navy. But you were more inspired by these other animals. And I can see that from horses. What other animals have you come across on board ship?

    Pat Sullivan

    Well, of course, birds. Now parrots are often thought of because of their beauty and because pirates made them very popular. But actually, Alexander the Great, it’s written, I suppose it’s true, brought parrots back from India. And they became very popular even in Alexander’s time and then during Roman times, the Romans were mad about parrots. So, I don’t know if they kept them on board ship, but the Romans did use chickens on ships as fortune teller’s kind of to determine whether a battle would be successful or not. It’s kind of grisly because if the chickens ate before a battle, it was deemed that the battle would be successful. If the chickens didn’t eat – it was bad news, and they were often tossed aboard. So, it’s kind of sad. But the other thing is there are working birds such as cormorants. And cormorants in some of the Asian countries are used to fish. And when they’re young birds, they have bands put around their necks, so they can catch fish, but they can’t swallow them.

    Sam Willis

    Wow!

    Pat Sullivan

    And they are tethered to ships. And in fact, in Japan it’s considered a – it’s like a royal warrant – certain families have the privilege of keeping these birds and they keep them for life. But it’s not anybody who can just get a cormorant and stick it on his boat it has to be mandated by the government. But they’re also used in China and Korea, possibly some of the other Asian islands. So, they are working birds that fish.

    Sam Willis

    Wow. I’ve heard that the Chinese had trained sea otters

    Pat Sullivan

    Really?

    Sam Willis

    Yes, to catch fish, but I’ve not heard the birds.

    Pat Sullivan

    I did not know that about sea otters because you know that we think of sea otters here, at least in the States, as just cute and cuddly little critters. And they’re very important for the environment: they float in kelp, and kelp keeps the waters healthy. But I didn’t know they were trained to fish. That’s interesting.

    Sam Willis

    It’s one of those things that survives in ancient Chinese sources from about the 13th century and you can’t quite tell if it’s true or not. But it’s so it’s almost so implausible I think that it has to be true if, you know what I mean. They had sort of special compartments built in the hulls of the ships for them. This is when they were doing their huge global navigation.

    Pat Sullivan

    Unbelievable. So, do you think Zhang Hae may have had sea otters aboard?

    Sam Willis

    Yeah, absolutely. I think he might well have done. And the other thing working birds the Vikings of course use birds for navigation, didn’t they?

    Pat Sullivan

    They did. Ravens, which of course feature in Norse mythology were often taken aboard and in fact, here’s a replica of a Viking ship called the Harald Harfagre. And it actually came here to Annapolis a couple of years ago; it’s a beautiful ship. And on the deck, there are two carved ravens. So, they were used as navigation because if the ravens flew off and came back, they knew that land was nearby, because of course, they were sailing, you know, without charts and instruments. So, yeah, ravens were navigational aids.

    Sam Willis

    And in terms of companions, what are your sort of favourite stories of pets as companions on board?

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, some of them are sad. I would say companions – one of the best-known ones who’s had all very long shelf life is my friend here Hatch of the Mary Rose. Of course, he was on the ship, it’s believed he was the companion of the ship’s carpenter, and when the ship sank, he was the only animal besides some rat skeletons who was found aboard. So, it’s believed he was the companion but also the ship’s ratter. What I love about Hatch is that you know, the ship sank 400 years ago and clever Mary Rose staff have created this spokes-dog for the museum. And he has a huge following, but you know, because he’s an animal that has attracted a number of children and young people to become interested in history. So, I think it’s great. There’s another very famous cat from World War Two, well, actually between the wars, Able Seaman Simon, who was on a British ship in the Yangtze, and there was an incident where the ship was shelled, many men were injured, the captain was killed and Simon himself took some shrapnel, but his job was to nurse the men back to good health. And he’s the first cat to have won the Dicken Medal. But unfortunately, after the ship was ordered back home, at that time, that was in the late 30s, early 40s, the cat had to be in quarantine. So, all though many of the crew visited him he didn’t live long enough to collect his medal. That was very sad. I could go on and on. But what I love, and getting back to Flinders, is to have this famous navigator and researcher take the time to write a little book about his favourite pet. The cat was not only Flinders’ best friend but also the crew’s best friend, during what must have been pretty scary times.

    Sam Willis

    And you can see how important you know, these animals were. Just talking about the wars is interesting – I’ve certainly come across a couple of examples of cats or dogs being on a ship which has been captured or sunk and then has then accompanied the crew to prisoner of war camps.

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes.

    Sam Willis

    Where their lives are in danger because they – Yes, they keep the prisoner’s company, but they consume food as well. And so that you have to keep these – there’s one wonderful one of it a Japanese prisoner of war camp where they have to keep his dog hidden, it’s a secret dog! And they managed to keep this dog safe from the guards.

    Pat Sullivan

    Now, are you thinking of Judy, the famous springer spaniel?

    Sam Willis

    Yes, I think I am.

    Pat Sullivan

    And I think Judy also won the Dickin Medal. What’s amazing to me is that during wartime that the dog wasn’t just confiscated, immediately; I think it’s incredible. Either she was hidden or maybe the Japanese even took a liking to her and felt sorry for the men.

    Sam Willis

    I think so. If there are any owners of springer spaniels out there, then maybe the idea of hiding one! I have a spaniel it’s not a springer it is a working cocker, but you cannot hide them!

    Pat Sullivan

    No, no. And they’re large, I mean that you can’t just tuck them under your coat.

    Sam Willis

    And springy, hence the name, and bouncy and noisy and smelly. But I do love the idea of them, you know, coming off the ships and going on to have longer lives. So, you’ve been collecting all this material. How long now for? How long has this project been going on for?

    Pat Sullivan

    Since about 2009. So, we just celebrated our 10th anniversary – last year – this is our 11th. And as I’ve mentioned, we are hoping to have walls someday; we’ve actually been invited to collaborate with a museum up in Maine, on Penobscot Bay, which is a lighthouse museum. And they have a big building that’s not totally used, so we might possibly have a home.

    Sam Willis

    That’s wonderful. I tell you what I bet light housekeepers kept pets.

    Pat Sullivan

    Oh, most definitely. In fact, there’s a lady named Eleanor De Wire, who lives here in the States, who’s written many books about lighthouse history. But she also wrote a book called ‘The Keepers Menagerie’. So yes, lighthouse keepers not only had mascots, but some of those dogs. Well, they had cats, dogs, birds, etc. They also had fodder animals, because some of them were in isolated areas where they had to keep their own food. But some pack animals were used to actually haul materials to the location where a lighthouse was being built. But other animals like newfies and labs did many rescues at lighthouses all around the world, not just here.

    Sam Willis

    That’s amazing; Newfoundland’s particularly in their role as lifesaving animals.

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes. And there’s a famous, actually, he was a horse, that belonged to a keeper on the east coast of England – early 19th century. The horse didn’t have a name, but somehow the story of this man did a famous rescue with the horse going down the cliff from the lighthouse, and the horse rescued something like nine people. Poor nameless horse. So, it’s incredible. I think keepers, especially on isolated islands and steep remote locations must really have needed animals for companionship.

    Sam Willis

    It’s interesting to talk about horses swimming as well, and, you know, how many animals do swim? They are actually very at home in the maritime environment.

    Pat Sullivan

    Yes. And you know, but a lot of people say cats hate the water. Cats – in fact, there’s something called the Asian Fishing Cat or Asian Swimming Cat. It’s a breed of cat

    Sam Willis

    I want one!

    Pat Sullivan

    Yeah, me too. They have webbed feet.

    Sam Willis

    Oh, cool.

    Pat Sullivan

    They use their tails as rudders. They live along the shoreline in some of the Asian countries, but they swim, and they fish for their own meals. So, people who say cats don’t swim – not true.

    Sam Willis

    I’m going to be going out to Asia, I think in the next few months, I’m going to try and hunt down an Asian Fishing Cat. That will be nice: nice to take a photo.

    Pat Sullivan

    We have some in zoos here in the States. They’re fairly rare, and I think they’re considered endangered.

    Sam Willis

    So, you may have a home and a lighthouse and is that where you’re going to put your – make yourself at home for this virtual museum?

    Pat Sullivan

    Well, it will no longer be virtual, we’ll actually have walls where we can put our library and have classes and lectures. Right now, or since we founded, we really kind of take the show to the people: we go to locations where we’re invited. But you know, you pack up the stuff and then you unpack it when you get home. It’ll be nice to just have our own digs, so to speak. That’s the plan – we hope, but you know, COVID has kind of changed everything for all of us.

    Sam Willis

    It has. Well, I wish you all the luck. Let’s just tell everyone how they can find out about you. What’s your website?

    Pat Sullivan

    Thank you. The website is Museum of Maritime Pets.org; we are on Facebook, although we don’t use it too much, we prefer Twitter. Twitter is @maritimepetsmus – so p.e.t.s.m.u.s. And we love Twitter because that’s where we get most of our information and pictures.

    Sam Willis

    Yes, it’s great. I urge everyone to just get involved and find some stories and ping them over either, you know, to us at Nautical History, or to the wonderful Museum of Maritime Pets. Pat, thank you so much for talking to me today.

    Pat Sullivan

    It was a delight. Thanks, Sam.

    Sam Willis

    I do hope you enjoyed that. Let me urge you again to get in touch and see if we can raise up some stories of maritime pets old and new to share with the museum. Before we go there are as ever some wonderful new contributions to our free forum, you can find that at snr.org.uk. Peter Atter writes: “I am keen to locate any extent logs and other documents from the SS Southern Cross”. I will just add there that Southern Cross is an ocean liner built in 1955 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the UK based shore Savile and Albion line built for the European Australian service. Peter goes on to write: “I’m particularly interested in the maiden voyage, but later voyages would also be of interest. Here is some background to my request: As a youngster in 1955, I travelled on the maiden voyage of the Southern Cross from Southampton to Wellington.” Now, I’ve looked into this, this is some journey. So, her sea trials end in January 55, and then she leaves on the 29th of March – leaves Southampton – and then goes to Trinidad Curacao, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Fiji and ends up in Wellington, on the second of May. That is some journey. Peter should get in touch and tell us more about that if you’ve got any recollections. Peter then goes on to write: “I remember that when we arrived in New Zealand, we travelled down the west coast of Wellington. The land appeared to be deserted. I suspect that we had made landfall at Castlepoint light, which we classed as a landfall light. I’d like to see a log to confirm this. I have an interest in celestial navigation and would like to discover what methods were used on the Southern Cross.” So do please help him out there, go to the forum and see if you can contribute.

    That’s not the only contribution we have had from navigation enthusiasts recently, which makes me wonder what a collective noun for navigation enthusiasts is. If you’ve got any suggestions do get in touch. I think ‘a location of navigation enthusiasts’ would be my suggestion. We have another query from one of our most regular correspondents. Malcolm Lewis. Hi, Malcolm, thanks for getting in touch. He writes in regard to the recent podcast on the sinking’s of the British ships during the Falkland Islands crisis, Malcolm writes: “Paul Brown’s book featured on the SNR podcast as an important record of the sad loss of six RN and RFA ships as well as the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano. It is a must-read book for the naval historian. Both the British government and its military were unprepared to respond to the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands, the windswept rocks 8000 miles away in the South Atlantic. Paul gives a harrowing description of life aboard a modern warship under constant attack from fast jets with bombs and missiles. The book is very well researched and includes information from government files only recently released. The unanswered question I suppose is, would Argentina have carried out such an invasion if the UK had not withdrawn the ice patrol ship Endurance, which showed a lack of commitment to the Falkland islanders and, at the first signs of trouble such as the landings at South Georgia, sent a nuclear submarine from its patrol area in the North Atlantic to the Southern Ocean.” Well, do offer any answers and thoughts if you have any.

    That’s it for now. Everything you can do to spread the word of the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast would be hugely appreciated. You can follow us on Twitter @nauticalhistory: the SNR is on Facebook: The Mariner’s Mirror Pod itself is on Instagram and has its own YouTube page. If you haven’t checked that out yet, really do please take the time to find the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast on YouTube, it’s got some really fabulous stuff there. We’re trying to break the mould and bring you entirely innovative ways of visualising the maritime past, including an animation of a mask taken from Horatio Nelson while he was alive, and most recently a wonderful little animation of the excellent ship plan of the K-class submarines of the First World War. Those ship plans from the collections of the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum in London. Otherwise, please do join the society, the best thing you can do to help. You can find us @snl.org.uk and the subscription will go towards publishing the most important maritime history around and to preserving our maritime past.