Nelcebee was launched in Port Adelaide in 1883 and worked the southern coast for 99 years – longer than any other vessel. It holds a history of shipping in its riveted-iron hull, having worked as a tug, coastal steamer, auxiliary ketch and motor trader. For much of its life it was part of the Mosquito Fleet of ketches and schooners that linked city and country. When Nelcebee retired in 1982, it was the third oldest vessel on Lloyds Register.

Nelcebee is is now located on Dock 2 at Honey Street, Port Adelaide.


Photographs on this webpage document Nelcebee’s colourful history from steamer tug to auxilliary ketch and some of the characters connected with the ship they nicknamed ‘Nelly.’

Oral Histories

In 2011, oral historian Sally Stephenson conducted eight interviews for the South Australian Maritime Museum’s Remembering Nelly Oral History Project. Skippers and deckies share their memories of working on South Australia’s longest-serving ketch. This project was supported by the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS).

Mick Potter

Mary Heritage

John Henry Foat

Gordon Ross

Colin Day

Chris Frizell

Remembering Nellie – Gordon Ross