Select Page

The Uranie ...


…and other voyages.
Scraps and jottings about voyages of exploration under sail,
usually in some way related to the voyage
of the French corvette Uranie,
1817 – 1820.


Rossel & Co.

When I first began working in the eastern part of Papua New Guinea, I was struck by the quite aggressively English names of the major features of its geography. But then, as our project moved offshore, a French influence began to appear.

read more

The return of the de Freycinets: a 200th anniversary

On the 10th of November 1820 the three-master Physicienne, formerly the American gun-runner Mercury but recently bought into the French Navy and now commanded by Captain Louis de Freycinet, dropped anchor off Cherbourg. Also on board was his wife Rose, who had just become only the second woman ever to circumnavigate the globe, and was the first to leave behind a journal of her adventures.

read more

The partitioning of Timor

Alone among the islands between Borneo and New Guinea, the middling-sized island of Timor stands out as a land of two masters. The western part belongs with all its neighbours, as part of the Republic of Indonesia, but the slightly larger eastern part is the main component of the independent state of Timor Leste,

read more

Gaimard’s diary – a puzzle

The first set of instructions issued by Louis de Freycinet to his officers was delivered to them in Sainte-Croix de Ténériffe on the 23 of October 1817, and the second, much longer, set ends with the statement that it was issued in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro on 28 December 1817. The diary proper then begins with the departure of the Uranie from Toulon on 17 September 1817.

read more

The boats of the Uranie

No sailing ship ever went to sea in the 18th or 19th centuries without boats, either on board or in tow. . Oddly, in none of the equipment lists that I have seen so far, which meticulously list the supplies and provisions taken on board, is there any mention of the boats that went with the Uranie,, but there were at least four.

read more

The strange affair of Lieutenant LeBlanc.

In the Introduction to the first (1927) publication of Rose de Freycinet’s journal, Baron Henri de Freycinet wrote that although it had been rumoured in Toulon that, to better accommodate his wife, Louis de Freycinet had disembarked his First Lieutenant LeBlanc before departure, the maritime prefect had no difficulty in doing justice to this malicious remark. It was a summary that was some distance short of the full truth.

read more

Renira Purvis

One surprise for Rose when she was on Mauritius was an encounter with another naval wife in a somewhat similar position to her own. There were, however, also very important differences.

read more

Kate Cochrane

If she had been taken to Valparaiso Rose would almost certainly have found herself meeting another extraordinary woman who, like her, had married a sailor many years older than herself. But unlike her, Kate Cochrane had not been welcomed into her husband’s family.

read more

The hope of rescue

200 years ago, it was the approach of winter that was to give the castaways from the Uranie their first sight of a potential rescuer, because was that which was driving the whaling and sealing fleets north

read more