What’s in a Gadfly?.


West coast Tasmania, headed south, 2009.

The good ship ‘Gadfly’, is a Formosa 41, cutter-ketch home ported in St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. One of a large number of a class of fibreglass production boats (GRP), built in Taiwan on an original design from that doyen of beautiful boat designs, Bill Garden. She started her career in 1975 and was originally based out of Alaska, then Seattle before she ventured forth, around the world, then across the Pacific, New Zealand and eventually Australia. She has been owned and operated by her current skipper, Trevor Burridge for the past seven years and in that time has cruised east cost Aus, Bass Strait and Tasmania, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Her skipper is a Marine Biologist who has been employed as a (University) Academic and environmental scientist in southern Australia. Trevor has sailed and operated all types of small vessels on the Australian south coasts. He has held a commission in the Royal Australian Navy as a reserve, seaman officer and has worked on merchant shipping. He also holds a ‘Master-5’ ticket for commercial shipping operations.

What is a Gadfly?

Well aside from the name the skipper inherited!!

The Gadfly petrels are seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. These medium to large petrels feed on food items picked from the ocean surface. They nest in colonies on islands and are pelagic when not breeding.  In other words when not at home, they wander!


‘Gadfly’  is a term for people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions. “Gadfly” (Ancient Greek: μυο̃ψ, myops) was used by Plato in the Apology to describe Socrates’ relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. The Bible also references the gadfly in terms of political influence. The term has been used to describe many politicians and social commentators.
During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato’s writings, pointed out that dissent, like the tiny (relative to the size of a horse) gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. “If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me,” because his role was that of a gadfly, “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.”

In modern and local politics, gadfly is a term used to describe someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position. For example, Morris Kline wrote that  there is a function for the gadfly who poses questions that many specialists would like to overlook. Polemics are healthy. The word may be uttered in a pejorative sense, while at the same time be accepted as a description of honourable work or civic duty.

Some former vessels sharing the name.

HMS Gadfly was a Cheerful class screw gunboat launched in 1856 and broken up in 1864.
HMS Gadfly was a fly class, iron screw gunboat launched in 1879. She became a coal lighter named YC 230 in 1900 and was sold in 1918.
HMS Gadfly was a coastal destroyer launched in 1906, and renamed TB 6 later that year. She was sold in 1920.
HMS Gadfly was a gunboat launched in 1915 and transferred to the War Department in 1923.
Finally. Gadding about:- to wander about in an idle or restless way.

Gadfly in Melbourne 2010!!!


Gadfly Petrel


HMS Gadfly. Fly class gunboat


HMS Gadfly: Destroyer


Back on the water wearing new clothes February 2010.

11 Responses to “What’s in a Gadfly?.”

  1. Alexsandra Trevor Says:

    Hi Trevor,

    Glad to hear you made it to Singapore. How long do you think you will hangout there? I imagine you are busy.
    Would love to chat sometime. Let me know when is good for you.

    • Trevor Says:

      Hi Alex. Yea good to be able to chill for a while although lots of things needed to be fixed on the boat. Cruising=Boat maintenance in exotic locations!!! My telephone is for some reason not allowing me to call, only text. I am away from the boat for a few days but will be in touch and skype or call from Johor on the 10th/11th??? Is this okay? We are leaving on the 12th headed for Phuket for mid December, then as the mood takes us as it were. Talk to you soon. Cheers, Trevor.

  2. Lara Says:

    Hey Trevor. Stuart Campbell recommended you as a reviewer of a manuscript on algal conservation. Any chance while you are sailing from Singapore to Phuket you want to give it a look? Send me your email if you are interested.

    I’ll be acting as handling editor from the deck of our 35′ ketch Dragonfly.

  3. Fi Says:

    Where’s the steering system gone?

    • Trevor Says:

      Hi Fi, it’s back on the boat with a new rudder that can be swung up and out of the water. Took it off for mods when we painted the boat. Where are you these days? Still sailing? Cheers, Trevor.

  4. Nick Says:

    Hi Trevor

    I sent you a wave on find-a-crew.
    I have been living in Indo for the last two years, now in NZ but heading back in two weeks.
    I have sailed already NZ to PNG (Vanuatu Louisiades)
    I would love to sail Indo.

    Cheers Nick

  5. Diane Mandle Says:

    Hi Trevor
    My good friend Alexandra will be adventuring with you in the high seas soon. Please make sure she returns to us safe and sound!!

  6. Peter Furborough Says:

    Hi Trevor,
    Your mum has been telling me all about your journey, sounds great what a thing to do!
    She is back playing golf again.

  7. david harper Says:

    great boat its the same as ours
    Regards Kalida

  8. david harper Says:


  9. Stacy Says:

    Hi Trevor, hope all is well. Look forward to the next installment of your adventure.
    Hear from you soon & be good to join you on your journey sometime. Stacy

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