The Chairman of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Steve Knight, visited the Netherlands in March 2016 to promote the event at HISWA, a major European boat show in Amsterdam. There he was invited for a surprise visit to the Dutch National Archives in The Hague. Here, one of the remaining two original copies of Abel Tasman’s Journal is conserved and considered a national treasure. Steve was allowed to leaf through it, and couldn’t believe his eyes as he saw the detailed drawings made by Isaac Gilsemans and navigator Frans Jacobsz Visscher, almost four centuries ago. ‘I sailed there only last weekend!’ he said, while pointing at a beautiful map of Maria Island and Frederick Hendrick Bay.
It was this moment of historical closeness that motivated the AWBF to start this project: bridging the distance, both in time and in place, between the Netherlands and Tasmania, between 17th century sailors and current day yachtsmen, between 17th century drawings and 21st century Google Maps, GPS and photographs.