Our Plan

This schooner was the first vessel (the accepted definition of “vessel” is a craft larger than a normal rowing boat) built in South Australia. She was built by American sealers from the Brig “Union” (Captain Isaac Pendleton from Stonington, Connecticut) in 1803, many years before official settlement. She was built at American River, Kangaroo Island (KI) – arguably the first non-indigenous settlement in South Australia. She was presumed lost south of New Zealand a few years later with all hands.

This vessel is of great historical importance to South Australia and particularly KI. A working replica would prove to be a major drawcard, not only to general tourists, wooden boat buffs, the sailing community and to historians, but would develop a link between KI and South Australia, and the New England area of the USA from where the Brig “Union” came.

A group of enthusiasts within the American River Progress Association Inc decided that rebuilding a full sized replica of the vessel was achievable by the local community. At 45 feet in length she is only as large as some old cray fishing boats or pleasure yachts.

The Rebuild Independence Group was formed, and later incorporated, to bring this idea to fruition.

The idea is for Independence to form the centre piece of a Historic Maritime Precinct, at American River, which will include an on water display of vintage wooden vessels and a maritime museum and interpretive centre.

The group has now (March 2017) secured a suitable site in the wharf area, built a boat shed and has started to construct Independence. See the gallery for latest pictures.  Part of the shed will later, after the vessel's completion, morph into the museum/interpretive centre. The vessel, which will be built to survey, will carry visitors on short excursions into Eastern Cove, to experience life in the days of sail.

Once the vessel is operating the Group will concentrate on developing the museum and interpretive centre and finally the Historic Maritime Precinct. American River already has an interesting collection of privately owned small wooden sailing vessels and owners will be encouraged to bring them along side.

If you find yourself as enthusiastic as we are about this project, we seek your support.

You can help by becoming a member, making a donation or buying some of our merchandise.