SIRIUS was the first Australian yacht to circumnavigate the world, from 1935 to 1937, starting and ending the voyage in Sydney. It was designed and built in Australia in the early 1930s and is an example of a yacht from Sydney boat builder James Hayes and Sons.
DescriptionSIRIUS is named after the brightest of the navigational stars, and was originally owned by Harold Nossiter, a well-known Sydney importer and sailor, and a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. In 1932 he began planning his retirement to include a voyage by yacht around the world. Nossiter wanted a custom designed boat and took his concept, an advanced design for the period, to J D Thistlethwaite, a naval architect at Greenwich, Sydney. Thistlethwaite prepared a set of detailed drawings for a robust cruising yacht, rigged as a staysail schooner.
The keel was laid in 1934 at the Careening Cove, Sydney, yard of the well established builders James Hayes and Sons. The canoe-sterned yacht was planked in Australian jarrah below the waterline and New Zealand kauri above. The supporting framework and structure was spotted gum, while the stem was a grown tea-tree crook. The mainmast was 19.8 metres (65 feet) and the foremast 17.6 metres (58 feet) long. A writer in the British magazine 'Yachting Monthly' (date unknown but probably in 1936) described it as 'full chested and sturdy, she is a true Aussie'.
'Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly' magazine carried a number of reports of its construction in its 'Round Slip and Yard' column.
10 August 1934: 'A large schooner now being built by this firm for Mr. Nossiter has created quite a deal of interest among yachtsmen throughout the Commonwealth ... The service for which the yacht is intended, viz.,"Around the World Cruise," has made it imperative that the timber selected and the workmanship throughout be first class'.
10 September 1934: 'Progress with the auxiliary yacht SIRIUS has been well marked during the last month. The vessel now stands fully planked, the beams are in place, and work on the deck is about to be commenced. A glance over this vessel shows that the strength has been more than adequately provided for. Not only are the timbers in excess of all its requirements, but the heavy grown floors, lodging and hanging knees will prevent any deformation under the most rigorous conditions'.
Harry West, well-known Balmain sailmaker, was commissioned to make the sails, canvas work, cushions, upholstery and bedding. SIRIUS was launched in February 1935 and later that year, on Sunday 20 July, Nossiter, his two sons Harold and Richard, along with Clive Russell, left Sydney Harbour. Their voyage is now well recognised, but at the time, the same magazine that had reported the construction carried a simple three-paragraph report noting: 'The voyage will be made in a leisurely fashion .... and will probably be away for two years'. Meanwhile a photograph caption wished them 'every success in their arduous undertaking'.
The trip did indeed take almost two years and covered 28,000 nautical miles, passing through the Suez and Panama canals. The route took them north of Papua New Guinea, then westward to Aden via Bali, Singapore and Colombo. Russell left at Colombo, leaving the three Nossiters as crew for the remainder of the voyage. SIRIUS arrived in Plymouth, England, on 2 June 1936 after passing through the Mediterranean. The yacht departed on 17 September 1936, crossing the Atlantic via Madeira and Trinidad. From Panama they went to the Galapagos and Marquesa Islands, then through the South Pacific back to Sydney. Harold Nossiter documented the voyage in two books, 'Northward Ho' and 'Southward Ho'.
From 1937 until the outbreak of World War II SIRIUS raced on Sydney Harbour and during the war it served as a naval training vessel. After the war Nossiter sold SIRIUS to Jim Booth. The new owner took part in the second and third Sydney to Hobart races in 1946/47 and then again in 1947/48 when SIRIUS finished 15th out of 28 starters. At this time the yacht's sail number was CYC 53.
From the 1950s through to the 1980s SIRIUS had an eventful time. In 1953 SIRIUS was bought by Ernie Palmer who took the yacht back to his home in the Solomon Islands. In 1955 he sold SIRIUS to Lever Brothers. The masts and keel were removed and SIRIUS was used as a supply vessel. In 1963 it was found by Laurie Crowley who bought the yacht and sailed it from Honiara to Lae in New Guinea where he used SIRIUS as a helicopter support vessel. In 1974 SIRIUS returned to Australia; first to Brisbane, then Mooloolaba, then Cairns. When a cyclone hit Cairns SIRUS sank at its mooring. Crowley refloated the yacht and then sold it to Bill and Margarete Cotter in 1980. They restored SIRIUS over the next seven years. Cotter used his cabinet-making and boatbuilding skills to rebuild SIRIUS - but at a cost. The Cotters sold their business and house to fund the restoration.
In 1992 SIRIUS went up for sale and was bought by David Plant to use in his charter business in Bali, Indonesia. Highlighting its historic background SIRIUS was a popular craft for short and long cruises in Indonesia. From 1996 it operated out of Phuket, southern Thailand.
SIRIUS was bought by the present owner, Simon Morris, in 2001 and is now used once again as a private cruising yacht. SIRIUS has taken part in most regattas in South East Asia since 2005 winning 65 prizes and coming first in the Classic Class of the Raja Muda Selangor Regatta, the Singapore Classic Regatta, the Festival of Sail in Selangor, the King's Cup Regatta and Phuket Race Week in Thailand. It has frequently won the trophy for the best Classic Yacht. SIRIUS is now back on the market and has its own website http://www.sirius1935.com/.
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:not on display
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:overhanging stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Related materials:news clippings
Official Number: 157614
Sail Number: CYC 35