Pilot Vessel Mavis III is the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum’s newest exhibit.
She served 26 years transferring pilots through the dangerous entrance into Port Phillip, Victoria. On 19 March, 2020 she made her last journey onto land when she was craned onto the maritime museum’s site to become an exciting new exhibit for the sea pilots’ display.
Mavis III was built in Western Australia in 1994 and the bare hull was transported to Queenscliff where it was completely fitted out in the workshop of the Port Phillip Sea Pilots Pty Ltd at Queenscliff Harbour. She joined the fleet of pilot launches that perform the twenty-four hour service transferring pilots into Bass Strait through ‘The Rip’. This is a narrow channel, with a reef either side, an uneven seabed, and challenging tidal conditions. These combine with stormy gales to make this area one of the world’s most dangerous entrances into a port.
The Port Phillip Sea Pilots have donated the Mavis III to the museum where she will be important in educating visitors and children about the history of the pilot service in Queenscliff as well as its significance to maintaining safe shipping in Victoria and Australia.
A sea pilot service began in Queenscliff in 1839 in response to the dangers of the entrance and the many shipwrecks in the area. When the last cruising pilot vessel, Wyuna, finished its service in 1979 the Port Phillip Sea Pilots had to find a replacement and the new, fast, fibreglass launches were the preferred option, beginning the shore to ship service. The distinctive orange launches are a daily sight in Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. Listen on a quiet night and you will hear the regular throb of the launches as they work 24 hours in the ‘Rip’. The arrival of the fast launches meant that the ships no longer had to stop to transfer the pilots, a significant saving to the maritime industry and commercial shipping in Victoria and Australia.
Mavis III was donated to the museum by The Port Phillip Sea Pilots Pty Ltd with special thanks to Capt. Dean Zanoni, PPSP BRD team, Queenscliff Harbour, Drews Haulage, Local Mix Concrete, McHarrys Buslines, Quinlan Cranes, QPL Concreting, Searoad Ferries, and the volunteers of QMM for achieving this.