189 Days at Sea, Alone

Australian Kay Cottee sailed her 11.2-metre yacht Blackmores First Lady out of Sydney Harbour hoping to be the first woman to circumnavigate the world alone, without stopping, without assistance, by way of both hemispheres and the five southernmost capes.

On 5 June 1988, after 189 days at sea, Cottee returned victorious: the first woman to achieve this feat (and the fastest woman around the world).

What was it like out there alone, back in the 1980s, with no social media and limited communications?

Come Aboard Blackmores First Lady 

First Woman opens a window into Kay's world. With stunning footage taken on board Blackmores First Lady, and multimedia programs exploring the voyage, the exhibition works as a prelude to a visit on board the yacht, where you can step inside the tiny cabin that was Kay's home for six months.

Visits are guided by volunteers at designated times. Please check at the front desk.

1980s Technology

The exhibition explores the sailing and navigation challenges faced by solo sailors. How did Kay Cottee navigate? How did she steer, sleep, bathe? How much food and water did she have to take with her? Did she have satellite navigation?

Was Kay Cottee Really Alone?

Kay Cottee navigated treacherous seas, ice and shipping lanes, fighting hallucinations and loneliness by talking to her first mate. A giant Teddy bear, called Ted. Kay has lent Ted to the museum for display. Find out how she coped being alone at sea for six months. How would you cope?

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to share the adventure of solo circumnavigation. Come aboard and feel it for yourself.

Extra: click to open a huge graphic of great circumnavigators