A Tale of Two Rosebuds

Last year I wrote about the Eleanor, the 22 foot motor launch built in 1913 by Henry Charles Rose and now on display at the Mackay Museum. The Eleanor’s story continues to evolve, with the identification of further items relating to her sister ships, Rosebud and Rosebud II, also held in the collection at Mackay Museum.

Rosebud was the first vessel built by Henry Rose, probably around 1907. Rosebud was an active participant in Mackay Regatta Club races, and in 1908 won the Ainslie Cup. Rose also sailed the 18ft open vessel to Bowen to participate in regattas there. But in 1909 one of these cruises caused considerable anxiety when the boat failed to arrive in Bowen when expected. Search parties were making ready to depart Mackay when Rosebud was sighted still making her way to Bowen, having been delayed by contrary currents. The return trip to Mackay caused even more problems, with strong headwinds forcing Rosebud and her crew to shelter at Repulse Island for three days. Rosebud was eventually spotted by the Harbour Master, who happened to be working in the area on overhauling navigation marks, and taken aboard the steamer Relief for transport back to Mackay.

rosebud

A race on the Pioneer River, c.1910, with Rosebud or Rosebud II at far left. Private Collection.

The following year Henry Rose dismantled Rosebud and used her copper fastenings and fittings to make a new 18 foot skiff, Rosebud II. Launched in 1911, Rosebud II’s maiden sail was an eventful one. Caught in breakers and a sudden squall at the mouth of the Pioneer River, the boat capsized and, with her crew clinging to the upturned hull, drifted out to sea. After nearly an hour in the water the exhausted crew were rescued, but weather conditions prevented retrieval of Rosebud II. She was towed back to shore the following day and during the retrieval operation her mast was broken. Fitted with a new mast, Rosebud II continued to compete in Mackay Regatta Club races, and won the Andrew Cup in 1913.

In investigating some sail bags stored with the Eleanor at the Mackay Museum recently, we discovered a set of sails which correspond to a photograph of a sailing skiff believed to be either Rosebud or Rosebud II. The distinctive kangaroo emblem is evident in the photograph and on the surviving mainsail, which also has the remnants of a sail number ‘6’ visible. Whether the sails belong to Rosebud or Rosebud II, or were possibly used on both vessels, is not yet clear.

Exposed to the elements and pushed to their limits to coax every bit of speed from a craft, sails have a hard life and surviving historic examples are rare. To therefore have sails from the first decade of the 20th century, associated with a well-documented vessel, builder, and crew, and complemented with photographs and other associated items make the Rosebud sails in the collection something of a museum jackpot.  This collection of maritime objects at Mackay Museum continues to enhance our understanding of recreational boating in early 20th century Mackay, and the people who enjoyed it.

Posted on 15 December 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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