Without its team of qualified coxswains, South Australian Maritime Museum’s historic launch Archie Badenoch wouldn’t be able to leave its berth with regular groups of excited school children on board. It is important to mention is that the coxswains and crew are all volunteers. The ex-navy, ex-water police launch is surveyed to carry 24 passengers. One of the conditions of operation is that the vessel is skippered by a person with a coxswain’s certificate. Our pool of six or seven qualified volunteers is drawn mainly from retired sailors who were previously employed as master mariners, trawler skippers, Department of Marine and Harbours coxswains and merchant seamen.
Archie, as our launch is affectionately nicknamed, is involved throughout the year in a busy education program, taking students down the Port River on trips that form part of their full day of fun and learning at the museum. During the cruises, the coxswains and crew take the children on a voyage back to an era when the river was a bustling waterway, explaining the port’s interesting history. If they are lucky, they might even spot one of the Port River estuary’s unique dolphins.
In November 2012, Archie celebrated its 70th birthday. Thanks to the Maritime Museum’s regular maintenance program and the launch’s dedicated team of coxswains and crew, we are certain to celebrate many more in years to come.
Typical of Archie Badenoch’s team of qualified coxswains is Hank van de Water. Before retiring, Hank spent 40 years with the port authority skippering dredges, tugs, motorised barges and launches like the Port’s hydrographic survey vessel, Pathfinder.
Archie Badenoch was built in Port Adelaide during World War II to a design called ‘40-foot AWBs’ (Auxiliary Work Boats). Over 100 were built in Australia for the three Armed Services. Archie is one of the few survivors still going strong!
To book a school excursion on Archie, contact the museum at 08) 8207 6255. Public trips are available during school holidays, and private tours on request.