In search of the Duroc
by Jack Binder on 20 Jul 2014
Startling discovery begins search for French Frigate lost in 1856.
In 1982, Jack and Jude led an amateur radio expedition to Herald’s Beacon, a small sand cay atop Mellish Reef, five hundred miles east of Cairns, Australia’s furthest territory in the Coral Sea.
A month before our landing, a cyclone tracked across this low narrow sand island and huge seas swept over it leaving its surface flat and unbroken except for masses of half-buried seabirds with their necks broken.
The cyclone’s powerful forces reshaped the island and exposed a coral shelf where Jack found an embedded bronze eye bolt. Our research brought to light heroic efforts by the seventy-five souls stranded after the French frigate Duroc ran aground on a mis-charted reef in August of 1856.
Our research did not pinpoint the exact position of the steam driven Duroc, but it did offer clues. Relaunching our homemade yacht in 2007, we set off for the furthest reaches of the Coral Sea to begin a search for whatever remained of the wooden warship.
But calamity struck straightaway. At sea Jack suffered a ruptured appendix and only a dash to hospital saved his life, temporarily ending our quest.
Six years later in the winter of 2013, we again sailed from the Australian mainland to search for the Duroc, and our journey, discoveries, and rich wildlife were recorded in HD video.
This video and our Coral Sea Cruising Guide resulted from that 2,000 mile, six week voyage.
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