FAQs

F.A.Q.s
(And Their Answers)

If you have any questions about the vessel, the crew

or the organization, check the FAQs below and their answers.

If they don’t answer your question, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What We Do

William the Fourth is owned by the Hunter Community through incorporated association William the Fourth Inc. You are welcome to join us. The ship is maintained and operated totally by volunteers. We are always seeking new volunteers.

How We Do It

The ship operates under commercial licence and AMSA survey category 1E. The licence requires a certificated qualified master – near coastal under 35m, with local knowledge certificate for Newcastle Harbour. A certificated engineer – MED3, as well as one licenced GPH. At least four trainees or general deck hands are also used at all times.

New volunteers and trainee crew members are subject to an induction and probationary period. A full crew training programme is available and drills are conducted regularly.

New crew members are most welcome. We encourage anyone interested in volunteering to meet any of our crew at the ship to obtain a full briefing.

Basic Questions

Here is a list of the most commonly asked basic questions regarding the cruise, and their answers.

The ship is accessed by a gentle ramp and is fully accessible for wheelchairs and walkers. Motorised scooters are too long to access the gangway.

The ship is an open deck vessel, but we have awnings that provide sufficient shelter for all passengers. In severe weather we have accommodation spaces below decks.

The master of the ship on the day makes a decision just prior to departure time, if it is safe to depart from the wharf. The ship normally operates unless the weather is predicted to be severe during the cruise time.

The ship complies with Australian Maritime Safety Authority regulations and carries multiple forms of safety systems. Life jackets for every passenger are carried and demonstrated during a safety briefing prior to departure.

There is a ladies and a gents toilet on board

Yes, all cruises include a commentary relevant to that event.

Historic Questions

Here is a list of the most commonly asked historical questions regarding the vessel, and their answers.

When the penal settlement at Sydney Cove was established there were no steam powered ships. This made it difficult to navigate up the rivers. After only 40 years paddlewheel steam powered ships made it possible to carry large quantity of cargo and passengers up the Hawkesbury River to Windsor and the new settlements growing up the Hunter River. William the Fourth was the first Australian built steam powered ocean-going ship.

It revolutionised the growth of the colony.

The small settlement of Erringhi, soon to be called called Clarencetown on the Paterson River, a tributary of the Hunter River, was renowned for its extensive flooded gum, iron bark and cedar. A site was selected for a shipyard by shipbuilders William Lowe and James Marshall, to build ships for merchant-owner Joseph H Grose.

Building commenced in early 1831 and launching took place later that year. The ship sailed to Sydney with a cargo of cedar. Machinery was fitted and trials conducted before the ship commenced regular trade between Darling Harbour and Green Hills.

No details exist of the original 1831 steam engine so Geoff Lawrensen, a prominent Marine Engineer researched and designed a replica of the earliest form of ‘two cylinder compound side lever beam engine’.

Plans were drawn by Ernest Winter. Patterns and castings for the two cylinders were made at Garden Island Naval Dockyard. Many parts were made at Newcastle Technical College under the supervision of Frank Lloyd, others at Newcastle State Dockyard.

Assembly was completed at Fox Engineering at Swansea in March 1987, supervised by Geoff Lawrensen.

William the Fourth was a lucky ship, avoiding shipwreck or explosion, very common at the time. It conducted trade as far north as Grafton and South to Wollongong for 30 years from Sydney. In 1862 it was sold and sailed to Hong Kong where it served the river trade for an unknown time.

William the Fourth was King of England from 1830 to 1837. Before 1830 he was the Duke of Clarence. Prince William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth will one day become King William the Fifth.

At the sesqui-centenary (150th anniversary)  of the launching event at Clarencetown in 1981 Ken Wickner, a shipwright at Carrington Slipways, conceived a plan to build a replica as a 1988 Bi-centenary Project. With the support of Raymond Terrace Lions Club, a steering committee was formed in 1883. The keel was laid on 15 June 1985.

The boiler suffered a pin-hole leak to a firetube in 2001. This put the ship out of service and it was decided not to return the ship to service only under steam power. The steam machinery is still in place and could be restored if sufficient technical skills and funds become available.

Technical Questions

Here is a list of the most commonly asked technical questions regarding the vessel, and their answers.

Here are the full measurements:

  • Length of keel: 23.7m
  • Overall length: 32.3m
  • Beam (mld): 4.8m
  • Beam (extreme): 9.2m
  • Depth (mld): 2.5m
  • Draught (mean): 1.59m
  • Paddlewheel Diameter: 2.44m
  • Height of Main mast: 16.6m
  • Speed (approx.): 6 knots
  • Displacement (load): 110 tonnes
  • Main Engine: YUCHAI turbocharged marine diesel – 6 cylinder 234Kw at 2,100rpm

The vessel was made with the following timbers:

  • The keel: Ironbark
  • Frames and ribs: Spotted Gum
  • Planking below waterline: Spotted Gum
  • Planking above waterline: Oregon
  • Decking: Oregon
  • Knees: Tea Tree
  • Interior Fittings: Red Cedar

The steam engine was manufactured at Fawcett & Co of Liverpool, England. It was transported by sailing ship to Sydney where it was fitted in late 1831.

The small settlement of Erringhi, soon to be called called Clarencetown on the Paterson River, a tributary of the Hunter River, was renowned for its extensive flooded gum, iron bark and cedar. A site was selected for a shipyard by shipbuilders William Lowe and James Marshall, to build ships for merchant-owner Joseph H Grose.

Building commenced in early 1831 and launching took place later that year. The ship sailed to Sydney with a cargo of cedar. Machinery was fitted and trials conducted before the ship commenced regular trade between Darling Harbour and Green Hills.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions after reading through the relevant sections above, don’t hesitate to contact us using the form on our Contact Page.

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