The Challenges


The re-enactment expedition will be made during dry season of east monsoon. There are advantages and disadvantages.

The original Duyfken's voyage was made during the wet season -- the season of tropical cyclones (typhoons). Large areas of the Cape York coast might have been flooded and certainly would have been inaccessible by land.

The advantage of a wet season voyage is favourable winds.

The re-enactment expedition will be made against the southeast trade winds. The Duyfken replica is fitted with diesel engines, but carries only enough fuel for a few hundred miles under power. The intention is to sail. Such a voyage should be possible, but it will be a long and frustrating undertaking. Skipper, Peter Manthorpe, will have to take advantage of every wind shift, and perhaps work up to windward in the lee of False Cape before crossing the Arafura Sea to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Duyfken can sail to windward and tack, but by modern standards she can make very little progress against the wind, sailing, at best, about twenty-degrees better than right angles to the wind. The techniques and mind-set necessary to make a long windward passage will have to be re-discovered.

Life on board the Duyfken replica should be more comfortable than on board the original ship, but it will not be a luxury. We will take advantage of a South American invention, not used on European ships of Duyfken's time -- the hammock.

Cooking will be a little more convenient, and the food a little more varied, but Duyfken does not have a freezer for preserving fresh food. And on the main deck we have the iron fire-box used for cooking in the 17th century -- in the tropics, cooking over a fire-box on the open deck may prove more pleasant than cooking in a stuffy galley below.