As I stated in my article titled Follow-up on the Schooners Lemael & Booya  , “I had previously written a series of articles regarding a number of sailing ships, but two in particular – the Booya and the Lemael. The series started with “Cyclone Tracy Shipwrecks” in our April 2005 newsletter (No.320). This was followed by “More About the Booya” in our July 2005 newsletter (No.323). The third article was titled “The Wreck of the Schooner Lemael” and it was published in our June 2007 newsletter (No.344). The final one in the series (until now) was “The Schooner BOOYA 4.0” in our January 2008 newsletter (No.350).”
I recently attended a Bird Life Australia workshop at the nearby Port River Sailing Club at Snowden’s Beach. I thought that I had entered heaven when stepped into the room and saw this setting: –

The view outside was just as pleasing: –

We were able to watch many vessels sailing by whilst we were at the workshop. We also got to see lots of dolphins swimming around in the river.
When I was seated for the workshop, I suddenly noticed this picture behind me: –

I was somewhat gob smacked to see the letters “EMAL” in the bottom left hand side of the picture. I quickly realized that the ship in the picture was the Argosy Lemal, a vessel that I had written about so many times in the past. The picture was a drawing or painting of the Argosy Lemal sailing off of Cape Otway. I quickly took a photograph of the picture whilst I had the opportunity to do so. I can’t quite make out the name of the artist.
I soon realized that much of the surrounding artefacts on the wall around the painting were actually from the Argosy Lemal, including the ship’s wheel. I made sure that I took many more photographs of the many artefacts during the lunch break, including this one of the ship’s wheel: –

The wheel featured this little plaque at its centre: –

The little plaque seems to feature a ship and the skull and crossbones.
There were several frames and a bell at the right of the wheel: –



Wheel with 2 frames alongside





  Wheel with 1 frame alongside

A lady came over to talk to me about them all and she knocked one of the frames down and broke it. Fortunately, I had already managed to photograph it before it was broken: –

The 2 frames prior to the accident

The lady, whose name I forget, also told me that the bell was from the Argosy Lemal and that the photo left of the bell, and below the picture of the ship, either featured Captain Jim Gillespie or his wife (I forget which).
I often either mentioned or quoted Captain (James) Gillespie in my old articles, especially regarding his book “Traders Under Sail – The cutters, ketches and schooners of South Australia” (1994).
Captain Gillespie had been made a life member for the sailing club in 2000. His name and photo both featured left of the ship’s wheel: –

I took this close-up photo of Captain Gillespie: –

Captain Gillespie’s ‘Life Membership’ photo

I could not believe that all of the above-mentioned artefacts from the Argosy Lemal had been ‘sitting on my doorstep’ for some time without my knowledge. I felt extremely lucky to have been able to visit the sailing club and find them there.
This photo of the Booya (ex-Argosy Lemal) had been taken by C.Begg in 1972, two years before she was wrecked in Darwin on Christmas Day 1974 by Cyclone Tracy: –

The Booya (ex-Argosy Lemal)
(Taken by C.Begg in 1972)


By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

4 thought on “Artefacts from Argosy Lemal at Port River Sailing Club”
  1. Christine Anderson says, “During WW2 she was done up to look like a Chinese Junk and made into a wireless ship and intercepted messages for General McArthur in the Pacific. My husbands Uncle Leigh Anderson was the Commander, he served on it throughout the war. I have some fantastic photos of the Argosy Lemal and lots of handwritten memories from my husband’s Uncle’s time in command.”

  2. Tony Snow Belton says, “Just the wheel, the bell’s history I do not know. Jim Gillespie was the patron of the club for a long time. He donated the wheel to the club.”

  3. Hi there, I believe the painting of the Agrosy Lemal is not the same a the one. The original was wooden ( in painting)
    My Grandfather sailed out to NZ on the Agrosy Lemal 1900s from Scotland. It latter left Newcastle with a load of coal heading for Sanfrancisco but never reached there with all hands lost. The Boya is a totally different ship, it may have been renamed the Agrosy Lemal, but it is not the original ship which was lost early 1900s ( the one in the painting)

  4. Thanks for these details Jenny. “The Booya has sailed under five different names – De Lauwers, Argosy Lemal, Ametco, Claire Crouch and, finally, as Booya. The De Lauwers had been built at Waterhuizen, Holland (by Gebr van Diepen) as a steel-hulled three-masted auxiliary schooner in 1917. She became the Argosy Lemal in 1920.” So, was there an earlier vessel called Argosy Lemal that was lost early 1900s? What was your grandfather’s name? Do you have any other details that you can share with us please?

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