Historical information

This Bosun's char was part of the equipment on the vessel 'Reginald M. It is typical of items included on board a vessel in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The nautical word 'bosun' is an abbreviation of the word 'boatswain' who is the person responsible for the repair and maintenance of the vessel. It could be used when rigging the sails and for rescue at sea, along with a thick rope anchored on shore or a rope between ships. It could also be used to move passengers to and from a ship as well as cargo on, to and from the vessel. A bosun's chair is a simple piece of equipment made from a short plank of wood and a sturdy piece of rope. It looks a little like a child's swing but usually has a pulley system that allows the user to adjust the length of the hanging piece of rope, and in so-doing adjusts the height above the floor or ground or sea.

In modern times a harness would also be worn by the bosun’s chair user for safety reasons. Bosun's chairs are also used by window cleaners, construction workers and painters. The bosun’s chair is sometimes just a short plank, or even a canvas sling.


The vessel “Reginald M” was a two-masted coastal ketch, owned and built by Mr. Jack (John) Murch of Birkenhead, Port of Adelaide, South Australia. Its construction took approximately 6 months and it was launched at Largs Bay in 1922.

The vessel had many owners and adventures over the years until it was purchased by Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum & Village in 1975 from the Melbourne Ferry Company at auction. It was then used as an active display until 2016. Visitors could go aboard, turn the ship's wheel, go below deck and get the feel of the captain's quarters, sailors' quarters and the storage space available. The Reginald M was a popular exhibit for young and old, until 2016.


This bosun's chair is significant for its connection to the maritime history. It has been used for rigging, painting, maintenance and importantly for life saving and safety.

The bonus's chair is also significant because of its connection to the history of the vessel REGINALD M, the coastal trading ketch from South Australia built in 1922 and in existence until 2016. Its flat bottom, single chine shape illustrates a very simple but robust method of construction, compared to other round bilged examples of trading vessels.

The Reginald M is listed on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV Number: HV000562.)

Physical description

Bosun's chair; seat is a rectangular plank of wood with a hole drilled in each corner and three reinforcing wood lengths attached below the plank. The ends of two looped thick ropes have been threaded through the holes in the plank, crossed over then spliced together. The loops of rope above the plank have been tied with light rope. A roughly made wire hook is attached at the base of one length of rope. Top surface reveals indents where the bottom wooden pieces are joined to the top and some of the metal fixtures can be seen along the edge. There are remnants of white paint on the top.