The whale boat Elizabeth

Captain James Kelly


Whale boats were very important to exploration and the smaller design was lighter and could be pulled out of the water much easier by their crew.

Kelly  known as the ‘father and founder’ of whaling in Van Diemen’s Land and in the December 1815, James Kelly set off with four convicts from Hobart to complete a circumnavigation of Van Diemen’s Land.

It is likely he used the smaller whale boat, which was normally carried on the larger whaling ship. It then would have had a crew of 4 oarsmen and a man on the rudder.

Kelly borrowed the boat from the magistrate of Pittwater (Sydney) Major James Gorden, who had named the boat after his wife, (Elizabeth)

Captain James Kelly Explorer, sealer, whaler

Bern Cuthbertson

Tasmania is a relatively small island. Nowhere on its 26,000 square mile surface is it possible to be more than sixty five miles from the sea.

It was therefore most appropriate that , in 1986, Bern Culbertson, a man with a life-long association with the sea and a keen interest in maritime history saw fit to undertake a re-enactment of James Kelly’s epic circumnavigation of Tasmania in an open whale-boat in 1815-16.

About the re-enactment

Unfortunately, this book is currently out of print.

The Best Experience Ever

Whale boats were used the world over as a fast and seaworth vessel.
See this one in the Bass and Flinders Centre
Chris Jones
Travel Blogger


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