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David Carment

1843-1934

David Carment was born in Comrie, Scotland on 30 August 1843. David migrated to Australia in 1872 after an actuary to the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP) in Sydney, offered him a position with the company. During the voyage to Sydney, David stopped shaving and grew a long distinctive beard that he was to maintain for the rest of his life.

On 27 January 1876, he married Elizabeth Shallard at St Philip’s Church of England on Church Hill, Sydney. Together, they had five children of whom only two survived infancy – Elizabeth Edith and David Shallard. David Carment was considered one of Sydney’s ‘outstanding personalities’ and served as Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Society of New South Wales as well as the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also, it seems, a fine singer, and sang in the Philharmonic Society concerts in Town Hall as well as at the opening of the famously ill-fated Garden Palace Exhibition of 1879.

In 1905, David had a yacht built and named it ATHENE. Designed by E Heywood and constructed out of New Zealand Kauri by WM Ford of Berrys Bay it was, according to David's grandson Max, ‘fast and wet, 34 feet length, 8 feet 6 inches beam, and 6 foot draught, and with over 1 ton of lead external ballast’. An early mention of the yacht appears in 'The Sydney Morning Herald' on 4 April 1906, saying a private yacht race was to take place between ATHENE and Mr J Young’s HERRESHOFF.

David revelled in Sydney’s picturesque harbour and proudly displayed his yachting uniform, as homage to the sport and its associated clubs. In December 1913, he described what an average day sailing was like in a letter to his son, David Shallard, displaying just how ingrained the sport had become in his life:

'On Saturday I took the boat down the harbour with a crew of three … We had a good sail in a fresh nor’easter, and had a great view of the numerous open boat races. On Sunday it blew pretty nearly a “black nor’easter” in the afternoon…we went to North Harbour and had a truly great sail home round by Shark Island carrying full mainsail and jib. You see the lapse of years has not abated my love of a good breeze. I wonder if you’ll take to sailing again when you come back … or whether you are tired of the finest sport in the world.'

David was rear commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in 1919, vice commodore from 1920 to 1923 and a life member. He was also a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, and he leant his support to other Sydney sailing clubs. Max Carment stated that during the 1920s and 1930s, David or his son would race ATHENE every Saturday. During the 1926 season, ATHENE ‘was the most successful boat, having won Tempest Trophy, Jubilee Cup, Boomerang Cup.’ Her skipper, David Shallard, also won the captain’s trophy for the best record in “A” class. Each Sunday, David and his son would pack lunch for themselves, the crew and any other passengers, before walking to Sandeman’s boatshed in Careening Cove to launch their dinghy. Max described what followed:

'As soon as the anchor had been dropped, cushions were laid out on the cockpit seats and a folding table set up for lunch. Lunch was always the same – cold beef, potatoes boiled in their jackets in sea water, pickles, bread, butter and jam. If it was hot an awning was set up over the cockpit. After lunch Grandfather went down to one of the two bunks in the cabin for a nap, and most of the others rowed ashore for a walk on the beach, or in summer, a swim … We usually returned to the moorings in Careening Cove about 5 pm.'

On 29 April 1934, only weeks after his last cruise on ATHENE, David died of bronchitis and myocarditis at the age of 90. The tributes poured in, including one from Air Vice Marshal Sir Philip Game, Governor of New South Wales, who referenced the sport David loved so much: ‘I always admired him so much in all the various roles in which I came across him and was amazed at the way in which he handled a boat in any and every weather.’ Another tribute piece was written by a relative and published in the 'Northern Star' and summed up his character quite eloquently. Amy Shallard described him as a ‘courteous gentleman’ and, despite being the ‘oldest yachtsman in Australia’, she had ‘vivid recollections of beating up the Harbour in the teeth of a howling westerly gale with “the Skipper” (as he was affectionately called) at the tiller when he was over 80 years of age.’ Four to five hundred people attended the memorial service at St Peter’s Church in North Sydney.

Sources:

Nicole Cama, 'The ‘oldest yachtsman’ in Sydney and his love for ATHENE', ANMM Blog, 13 March 2013, accessed March 2013].

David Sulman Carment, The Carments, A Scottish-Australian Story 1672-1976, 2010, accessed March 2013].

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  • North Sydney