A dark timber 60-foot ship created a spectacle in Brisbane this week as it docked for the first time in Queensland's river city.

SV Notorious is the only 15th-century caravel replica in the Southern Hemisphere and was hand-built from cypress by Victorian Graeme Wylie.
Since 2011 both Mr Wylie and his wife Felicite have sailed up and down the east coast of Australia calling the 58-tonne wooden boat their home.
It has been anchored at South Bank drawing interested holiday-goers and passers-by aboard.

"Notorious is a recreation of one of the very early vessels of exploration that the Europeans used to discover a route to the east," he said. I had collected timber, about 300 tonnes of Monterey cypress logs, to make into furniture and I began to burnout on the furniture and I needed something more interesting to do."

Mr Wylie, 59, took more than 11 years to complete the project including researching, creating the design and building the ship in Warrnambool, Victoria.

The ship does rely on a few modern features, including GPS navigation and a diesel engine, but all is hidden away behind timber panels.

"I was fortunate to have Felicite's support and I worked full-time on the ship," he said. "It took two years alone to do the research as there is very little known about caravels and they didn't use plans in the 15th century and they never found the remains of one. "I drew all the plans myself. She isn't a replica of any existing ship; she is a recreation of the whole theme."

Notorious, which is often mistaken for the Black Pearl from the Pirates of Caribbean movies, is the same size as two of Christopher Columbus' ships.

"Considering their pivotal role in human history, they [caravels] are highly under-represented in recreations," he said. "I didn't really know how strong I had to build her but I built her heavily with a combination of both ship building codes and information that I could dig up from the past."

Living life aboard a caravel

The ship has no digital contents with maps and treasure chests scattered throughout the hull

The couple live aboard the ship for 11 months of the year and have yet to choose a home port.

"Our home is the high seas and we find it comfortable; there is plenty of space inside and we have a lot of room below and we get to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the country," Mr Wylie said. "Being under sail is a pleasurable thing and standing near the bow and watching her pushing through the water - she is so determined. "We have covered 11,000 miles since we originally left three years ago and that includes 200 miles in the Bass Strait before heading up the east coast. "[We] have literally gone from the bottom tip of Tasmania to as far north as Port Douglas."
Mr Wylie said they do appreciate the home comforts on land in western Victoria, but their feet get itchy easily. "When we do go home, we enjoy the space and the big bed and the 240V power that goes with being on the land, but after two weeks it gets boring and we miss the travelling," he said.

Every part of the ship is made of wood, including the stairs down into the hull

The sails and masts are all equipped with ropes as they would have been in the 15th Century

Notorious has such broad appeal
The black wooden ship surprises many who see it, especially Customs officials.

"We surprise many other people in vessels on the way and some of them head for us, others head away," he said. "We sailed into Cairns while the G20 finance ministers meeting was on and the Customs and Water Police came out to meet us in great numbers. "We get a lot of laughs on the way when people first see Notorious."

Mr Wylie said children are often scared when seeing the ship at first, but then are hesitant to leave.

"Little children can be a little fearful as she's big and black and they need some encouraging, but then when the children do leave they're often in tears as they don't want to go," he said."Notorious has such a broad appeal - from older boat people [and] some men in tears - the overall reaction is that she is beautiful and amazing."

The couple plan to keep their sea legs for as long as they can.

"Life on the sea is pleasant and we get to follow the sun and it is hard to think about setting roots on the land again," Mr Wylie said.
The ship will remain in the Brisbane River until July 5, and will then move to Manly and Scarborough before heading back south to Victoria for the first time in three years.

Source ABC/ Jessica Hinchliffe