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SS Karatta lifeboat

Vessel Number: HV000595
Date: c1907
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
The lifeboat from the SS KARATTA was probably built around 1907 when the SS KARATTA was built. The ship traded extensively between Kangaroo Island and Port Adelaide in South Australia from the 1908 until 1961, and was one of the main connections between the island and the mainland. This lifeboat is one of the few relics connected with SS KARATTA that has remained extant. It is a typical example of a clinker lifeboat, and was later adapted with a motor for use as a fishing boat before it was donated to the Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum on Kangaroo Island.
DescriptionThe lifeboat is around 6 metres long, has a double-ended hull shape and is clinker built with 12 narrow strakes. Throughout midships the top three strakes have a doubler section added beneath each strake as a sacrificial chaffing batten to protect the lower edge of the top strakes where the vessel would lay against the ship’s hull or a wharf. Rowlock blocks are fitted for two rowing positions, but the thwarts have been removed. It would have probably been an open boat with no decking apart from a small area at the bow and stern. One of the lifting hooks that held the craft in the SS KARATTA ’s davits remains attached to the hull.

As well as serving as the ship's lifeboat in case of an emergency, it had practical use as well. John Nordlund served abord SS KARATTA from 1911 until 1921, and recalls using the lifeboats to ferry passengers ashore when the weather was too rough to tie up at Penneshaw Wharf on Kangaroo Island

Its use as a fishing boat is not documented, but it can be assumed that it was retained from the yard where the SS KARATTA was broken up, and a private owner acquired the craft. Its subsequent use involved fishing and other recreational activities. The adaptation to fishing purposes is shown by the addition of engine bearers for an engine, and a raised area of decking at the stem forming a covered over forepeak area.

The hull is now stored ashore at the Penneshaw Folk and Maritime Museum on Kangaroo Island where a conservation plan including new cradles and support are being considered, so that the craft can be used as a focus point to tell the story of SS KARATTA’s decades of service supporting the development of Kangaroo Island. The SS KARATTA was built in Greenock, UK by G Brown and Co and serviced Kangaroo Island for fifty-three years until it’s sale and breaking up in 1961. SS KARATTA was the lifeline to the mainland for residents and visitors, and was central to the development of the island’s economy. It carried both freight and passengers and was vital for the health and well-being of residents who required transport to the mainland's medical services as these services were not available on the island.

Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Current status:outside
Deck layout:open
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:docking keel

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