If this figurehead could talk I'm sure it would have some exciting stories to tell of wild storms, oceans travelled and places seen.
The museum is home to a fine collection of maritime figurines.
This picture shows the detail of just one of these amazing figures.
A carved and painted figurehead of a country girl that once adorned the bow of the Wool Clipper Ship Coonatto, that was eventually wrecked off the coast of Beachy Head, Eastbourne in 1876.
The figurehead was salvaged from the wreck.
On a voyage from Australia to London loaded with copper ingots and wool, she pilled up near Beachy Head in the English Channel on 21 Feb. 1876. Most of her cargo was salvaged but the COONATTO was lost.
The figurehead “Sailors Lass” had resided beside a pond, within the grounds of East Dean Manor House near Seaford for almost 100 years, then was brought to the United States in the very early 1950’s. The figurehead is carved in the style of a country girl in simple dress; her face and hair have been carved with grace and sensitivity.
|Nowdays, the debris of Coonatto lies amongst the chalk boulders and gullies at the base of the Seven Sisters Cliffs,|
Eastbourne and can be reached by clambering along the shore at low tide.
Photo by Pete Mason.
And as she appears now within the museum.
|Ref: Stamps were produced featuring the Coonatto|
. Coonatto - an Aboriginal word for a food-bearing tree.
. Description: She had very fine lines, but was a very wet vessel (a vessels which takes much water on board during bad weather at sea.)
. Usage: She was used in the service between the Thames and Australia for her whole life as a cargo vessel.
. Captain: She was mostly under command of Captain Begg, a hard driving captain.
Her best passage was when she sailed from the Thames and after a passage of 66 days.
. Sources: Origins Orient and Oriana by Charles F. Morris. The Colonial Clippers by Basil Lubbock.
. Wreck Site
. Sold: at Auction to and Australian buyer in 2008 and can now be seen in the Lady Denman Museum Huskisson..
Ship type – A Clipper was a very fast sailing ship that had three or more masts and a square rig.
In brief, they had a pronounced bow flare, sleek appearance, generally fine lines and in action, an ability to reach and maintain speeds previously unmatched.