14 December 2023

Replica 15th-century caravel Notorious to sail into Shell Cove for pirate-like experience

| Kellie O'Brien
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Caravelle Notorious

The replica 15th-century caravel Notorious will sail into Shellharbour Marina this week. Photos: Supplied.

Amid the luxurious boats at the Shellharbour Marina will sit the magnificent replica 15th-century full-sized wooden caravel Notorious, offering young and old a pirate-like experience this month.

Husband and wife team Graeme Wylie and Felicite Scott are encouraging the public to come aboard on 4-5 November and 11-12 November at the Shellharbour public pontoon within the marina.

Amateur boatbuilder Graeme single-handedly built the recreation of a 1480s Caravelle Latina, the pivotal Portuguese ship from the Age of Discovery, using salvaged Cupressus macrocarpa windbreak trees at his then-home in Warrnambool, Victoria.

15th century Portugese caravelle replica

Amateur boatbuilder Graeme single-handedly built the recreation of a 1480s Caravelle Latina, the pivotal Portuguese ship from the Age of Discovery.

Felicite said Portuguese caravels sailed the Australian eastern and southern coasts in the early 1500s with the Map of Dieppe, which was a collection of charts, stolen and later used by Captain James Cook to navigate the Eastern Australian seaboard.

Describing Graeme as a savant, she said prior to the project starting in 2001 he had no prior knowledge of caravels and no boat-building skills.

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“He researched, designed and constructed her by himself on machinery that he built – he’s very skilful,” Felicite said.

“He did all the calculations, with the only tool used being a calculator.

“We didn’t have a computer, so there were no computer drawings or anything like that.”

She said it took two years to research, with Graeme captivated by the legend surrounding a shipwrecked mahogany vessel in Portland in southwest Victoria that later disappeared and people have been looking for ever since.

“As well as having the skills to do line drawings, then after the ship was built and nearly ready to be launched, he then had to learn maritime law, because nothing like this had been done before,” she said of it being the only ship representing 15th-century sailing in the Southern Hemisphere.

Graeme Wylie Felicite Scott

Graeme Wylie and Felicite Scott live on-board Notorious for 10 months of the year.

Felicite said while the keel was laid in 2001, it wasn’t launched until 2011 in Port Fairy in Victoria.

“It’s now been 12 years and over 40 ports from Port Fairy to Hobart to Port Douglas,” she said.

Notorious hasn’t been in NSW waters since 2019, having settled in Queensland waters since 2016 where Graeme and Felicite live onboard 10 months of the year.

“People are very interested in Graeme’s ship because she’s so extraordinarily beautiful,” Felicite said.

“Some people look at the outside, especially if they can see on the deck, and think ‘Why would I pay $6 to go?’.

“And other people cannot wait to get on board and touch the timber and see her and smell her and marvel at her because she’s incredible below deck.”

She said it attracted people who love to explore, technical shipwrights, boat builders, carpenters and tradespeople interested in the construction, as well as those who admired what Graeme was able to achieve.

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“The ship as a whole – her whole story – that she has been researched, designed and created by one person and on the global maritime stage that is one in a million,” Felicite said.

“Usually ships like this are researched, designed and built by countries and foundations and millions of dollars and teams of shipwrights, and hundreds of volunteers.

“Purely from a creative point of view, the ship is unique.

“The fact that she’s sailed over 23,000 (nautical) miles in the last 12 years with a crew of two through the Southern Ocean, Bass Strait. The Tasman and Coral Seas is also pretty notable.”

Notorious will be in the Shellharbour Marina on 4-5 November and 11-12 November from 9 am to 3 pm. Children aged two to 14 years must be supervised at all times and footwear is recommended. Adults are $6 and children $4. No bookings are needed.

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