About Project Endeavour: Background

The Project Endeavour team managed the preparation program for the solo, non-stop, triple circumnavigation of the world undertaken by Jon Sanders and the two year voyage from 25 May 1986 to 13 March 1988 itself. Funded by the Parry Corporation and endorsed as an Australian Bicentennial Activity, Project Endeavour was managed by a Committee formed under the umbrella of Curtin University's Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST).

A key aim of the Project was to draw international attention to the pioneering role of Captain James Cook in ocean navigation and science by completing the scientific research Cook began and by emulating his navigational achievements.1 Cook's Endeavour voyage had three aims:

- observe and record the transit of Venus,

- chart coastlines of islands in the south Pacific and make detailed scientific observations, and

- locate and claim the Great South Land.

This goal led to the endorsement of Jon Sanders' voyage as an official Australian Bicentenary Activity.

Planning for the voyage began in 1985 when a working group was set up with members including Jon Sanders, Dr Jim Chute (Manager of the Technology Division of the Parry Corporation), Associate Professor John Penrose (Director of CMST), marketing representative Grahame Henry and boatbuilder Des Piesse. Bill Lucas joined the group a few months after planning began as the official delegate of the Royal Perth Yacht Club. 2

Curtin Gazette, March/April 1988.

Cover of the Curtin Gazette
depicting Jon Sanders' triumphant
return home following his triple circumnavigation of the world.

Records of Project Endeavour.
Curtin Gazette, April/May 1988,
Vol. 1 No. 1. CUL00050/3.

At that time, CMST was part of the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) which became Curtin University of Technology in 1987. As well as its overarching management role, CMST had particular responsibility for the scientific research to be undertaken on the journey. CMST was responsible for experimental design, gear mobilisation, selection of consultants, the training program associated with the scientific package and the reporting of results.

The project was estimated to cost approximately $400,000, of which $60,000 covered the science package. 3

Challenger, a 14m foam sandwich construction sloop, was purchased by Kevin Parry for the voyage. Designed by WA naval architect Phil Curran in 1978, the Challenger was built by Perth contactors for Dr Jim Chute who sailed her in the 1979 Parmelia Race from Plymouth to Fremantle in commemoration of WA's 150th anniversary. 4 The yacht was renamed the Parry Endeavour for Jon Sanders' journey.

Endeavour and Peri Banou, official launch, December 1985. CUL00039/10/58.

Perie Banou
, Parry Endeavour and
Kevin Parry's Sutherland at the
official launch for Sanders' voyage, December 1985.

Records of Project Endeavour.
Endeavour and Peri Banou,
official launch, December 1985.

Preparation work had two main foci:

1. Refitting the Parry Endeavour

The refit was based on design advice provided by Kim Klaka, the CMST's naval architect and was overseen by John Penrose. Sanders aimed to complete the voyage single-handed, without stopping and without reprovisioning. The refits were designed to minimise the likelihood of Sanders stopping his voyage due to structural or equipment failure. 5

2. Designing the scientific equipment

The Parry Endeavour was equipped with a scientific package to record sea surface temperatures, wildlife sightings and bathymetric measurements.


Challenger [Endeavour]: old engine removal, ca 1986. CUL00039/9/3.

Records of Project Endeavour.
Challenger [Endeavour]: old engine removal, ca 1986. CUL00039/9/3.
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