Hobart was, I hate to admit, founded as one of the British Penal colonies. Men, women and children were transported here on her Majesties ships and spent a life of harsh punishment and misery. Nowadays, it is matter of great national pride for any Australian to be descended from a convict. Hobart is a beautiful city with many of her older buildings (from the 1830’s) still standing, albeit now housing quaint galleries and shops. A large marina shelters numerous yachts, tour boats and float-planes, most of them for the tourist industry of course. The island has had little rain and everywhere is dry and brown; during the transit in, the pilot tells me that they are really worried about fire, everything is tinder-dry and would explode into a conflagration quickly. Fortunately, I think they’ll get a drenching tonight as the weather front promises heavy rain.

It is very ‘English’, as is to be expected. Street names are recognisable to me, the houses look as if they’ve been taken from the British south coast and dropped in Tasmania and they all have quaint English names as well. Flowers abound, beautiful gardens (or yards), lovingly tended flower-beds and huge oak trees in the parks.


Across from us is a strange looking craft, the “Brigitte Bardot”, a monohull with an outrigger and part of the ‘Sea Shepherd’ environmental group. She is waiting for information, where are the Japanese Whalers? When they find out, off they go, across towards Antarctica in an attempt to foil the insane killing of those beautiful creatures. I don’t envy them; knowing those southern waters and what they can do to a ship, going out on a boat that size seems misguided, but they’re keen and desperate to do something to stop the killing, good luck to them.


We sail soon for Adelaide, so I will send this to Julie, our editor and get ready for departure!

Jonathan Mercer is Amsterdam’s captain.


  1. Well Captain, we flew in from Melbourne to my home town to spend the day with 4 of your passengers on a very warm day, be it much cooler on Mt. Wellington (21c), down to the Huon Valley & up for lunch at Richmond, where the oldest bridge in Australia is located, and yes, built by convicts.
    On returning our friends to the ship by 3pm, we waited at Salamanca Place and heard your detailed announcement to passengers regarding the heavy swells in Southern Tasmania. Ironically later that day a very bad fire broke out in the lower Derwent area to the west of your ship.
    Happy sailings
    Noel Bell 4 star Mariner

  2. Enjoyed very much the story of your easing the ship to the dock.
    After our return from Antarctica and your handling the vessel through the approaching storm to the west of Cape Horn, I am already confident in your seamanship! This was a piece of cake for you by comparison, right? I didn’t look outside for three days last year, but felt very little but a list. Good job…

  3. I agree with Charlotte’s comments. I am always confident with you at the helm. It has been a please to have sailed with you twice. Hope your time in Australia is pleasant with smooth seas.
    Happy Sailings and Cheers!

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