13 May 1787

Portsmouth, England

Watercolour painting of the First Fleet voyage.

Sirius, Supply & convoy: needle point ENE 3 miles. Hyaena in company. 13 May 1787. William Bradley, watercolour from his journal ‘A Voyage to New South Wales’, 1802+. State Library of New South Wales: safe 1/14.

From January 1787 prisoners from various jails were put on the convict transport ships. A series of delays fitting out the ships, organising supplies and crew meant convicts spent many months confined on board. Disease and the winter months took their toll with 16 male convicts dying on Alexander. Finally, at daybreak on 13 May 1787, Governor Phillip ‘hoisted his flag on board the Sirius’ and gave the signal for the 11 ships to weigh anchor. The fleet was escorted out of the English Channel by HMS Hyaena with the slow-sailing Charlotte having to be towed for part of the way.

The voyage