The First Fleet
The First fleet sailed from Portsmouth in 1787. Convicts were loaded off wagons at Beach Point onto boats which rowed them to the ships anchored further out. Portsmouth was the biggest Naval base in England and ships waited here for favourable winds before heading out into the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. There were 11 ships in the First Fleet to take the convicts to New South Wales. The combined tonnage of the first fleet was 3964 tonnes. The largest ship was the Sirius, a naval vessel. The Supply, the smallest, was also a naval vessel. These two navy ships were to guard the fleet.
Captain Arthur Phillip, the new governor was on the Sirius. The Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale were store ships for the fleet. They had to carry everything they needed for the new colony - tools, seeds, clothes, medicines, and eating utensils. The rest of the ships - the Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, Friendship, Charlotte, Prince of Wales and Alexander - had the convicts and marines on board.
Portsmouth - Tenerife - Rio de Janeiro
On 13th May 1787, the first fleet set sail with rough weather. A week out the convicts on board Scarborough planned to take over the ship but they were discovered and flogged. The fleet reached Tenerife in the Canary Islands on the third of June and stayed there for a week laying on supplies, mainly fresh food such as beef, bread, figs and mulberries. The first fleet then sailed towards South America because:
- Africa was not that well-known to the British navigators at that time.
- Down along Africa, there were often long periods of calm or doldrums.
- Sailing via South America the ships would take advantage of trade winds.
- The Captains knew where they could get supplies in South America.
The first fleet arrived at Rio de Janeiro on the fifth of August.
Rio de Janeiro - Cape Town - Botany
The first fleet stayed at Rio de Janeiro for nearly a month and on the fourth of September, sailed for Cape Town which was a Dutch colony at the time and a good port to get supplies. On the thirteenth of October, the First fleet sailed into Cape Town and took on about 500 animals, mainly chickens. The first fleet left Cape town on the twelfth of November and sailed due east toward the south of Tasmania and then turned north up Australia's east coast and arrived at Botany Bay on the 18th January 1788. There was a low count of deaths on the voyage - only 48 , and 7 children were born.
Baudin & Flinders
Sir Robert Seppings