Trim sailed around Australia in 1802 with his person, captain Matthew Flinders, to map the coast of Australia.
This dauntless sailor cat circumnavigated Australia three times, sailed once completely round the globe, survived being shipwrecked, endured being marooned for two months, and was imprisoned as a spy.
Trim was an impressive cat, an exceptional cat, full of energy, agility and daring and he is a great Hero of mine.
Biography of a Sailor Cat
Trim was born aboard the Reliance in 1797.
From the very first month of his life, Trim developed a sure sense of balance and an indifference to the rolling motion and frequent dousings of sea water.
He very quickly learned to mount the gangway steps faster than any other member of the ship’s crew and once, as a kitten, fell overboard.
This could have been the end of Trim but, showing early promise of his fighting spirit, he grabbed hold of a rope which was thrown for him and ran up it to the safety of the ship.
I hope I would be quick thinking enough to do the same!
Trim circumnavigates Australia
In 1800 the Reliance sailed back to England via Cape Horn and St Helena, and Trim had completed his circumnavigation of the globe. ‘Many and curious were the observations he made in various branches of science, wrote Flinders, particularly the natural history of small mammals, birds, and flying fish, for which he had much taste.
But Trim was uneasy in England, he was a true seafarer at heart, unused to a stationary home on solid ground with no far horizon or promise of distant shores.
So back to the South Seas he went, this time on the Investigator with his comrade captain. Back in his element, Trim made circumnavigations of Australia in each of 1801, 1802 and 1803, accompanied throughout by Matthew Flinders.
But the worst was yet to come …
In 1803 Trim and his companions were shipwrecked 170 km south-west of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland and marooned for two long and difficult months.
In his inimitable style, Trim helped to entertain the men and keep their spirits up until rescue arrived.
After being rescued the voyagers had to put in for repairs at the then French island of Mauritius, but they had been out of touch with world events, and England and France were now at war.
Trim and Flinders were accused of spying and thrown into prison!
A Tragic End – In the stew-pot?
After only a fortnight, Trim disappeared.
Although a reward of 10 Spanish dollars was offered for his safe return, the gallant cat was never seen again.
Flinders was heartbroken. Poor Trim was effectually lost, he wrote, and it is but too probable that this excellent unsuspecting animal was stewed and eaten by some hungry slave.
Thus perished my faithful intelligent Trim! The sporting, affectionate, and useful companion of my voyages.
Matthew Flinders tells of Trim
In the Captain’s Words from the Captain’s Log
I can never speak of cats without a sentiment of regret for my poor Trim, the favourite of all our ship’s company.
This good-natured purring animal was born on board His Majesty’s ship the Roundabout in 1799 during a passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Botany Bay; and was consequently an Indian by birth.
The signs of superior intelligence which marked his infancy, procured for him an education beyond what is usually bestowed upon the individuals of his tribe; and being brought up amongst sailors, his manners acquired a peculiarity of can’t which rendered them as different from those of other cats, as the actions of a fearless seaman are from those of a lounging, shame-faced ploughboy.
Peace be to his shade, and Honour to his memory.
[Isle of France, December 1809]
Here’s to the Memory of Trim, the Sailor Cat