Small boat, big story

Posted on: 29th June 2022 No Comments

What an honour it was to be invited to record the Robertson family’s memories of their survival following being shipwrecked by killer whales in the Pacific. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall are custodians of the Ednamair (the small dinghy in which the family were found) and a fascinating collection of smaller objects that were saved from their time lost at sea. It was these objects, many key to their survival, that were our focus for a fascinating day of recording at the Museum.

As family members carefully unwrapped objects from their archival storage boxes, the smell, sight and touch brought back many emotions and memories. Sandy didn’t stop at smell and was compelled to taste the turtle oil, which instantly brought back a whole host of emotions and recollections. This was an extremely evocative way of capturing some of the family’s stories and will add meaning to the objects within future displays.

We are now working on a series of short films to share some of the stories attached to these objects, which will become part of a display at the museum. It’s going to be a very tough edit as every object evoked so many memories and reflections, and all of it so fascinating. Not many people have had to fight for their survival like this family did and we can all learn a great deal from listening to stories of those who have.


How the objects, including the Ednamair, survive to this date is a wonder in itself and had it not been for the families pleas to the crew of the Japanese fishing boat which saved them, they would have been lost to the sea. With great kindness, the Ednamair was hosed down on deck (as the stench was unbearable) and eventually found it’s way back to the UK and to the museum in Cornwall. But that’s another story!


Thank you to the Robertson family for their time and openness and to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall for inviting Storylines to be involved. We are looking forward to returning to the museum on the day of rescue to spend more time with Douglas and meet Robin, who joined the Robertson on their voyage and was shipwrecked with them.

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