Designed by noted Sydney naval architect Walter Reeks, SY Ena was built in 1900 for Thomas Dibbs, Manager of the Commercial Banking Company and Commodore of Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Named after his wife, Tryphena, Ena was used on Sydney Harbour for government functions, weekend entertaining and watching yacht racing in style.
Requisitioned during World War One, SY Ena was renamed HMAS Sleuth, painted dark grey and had a 3 pound cannon installed. The vessel patrolled the Australian coastal waters on the hunt for armed German raiders.
After the war, Ena was returned to private ownership and was later used in Tasmania for transporting apples as commercial fishing vessel.
In 1981 Ena sank in D’Entrecasteaux Channel, south of Hobart.
However, the vessel was soon salvaged by a business syndicate, and in 1987 shipwright Nick Masterman fully restored Ena to its original specifications. It is now considered one of the finest examples of a working steam yacht in the world.
In June 2017, Jacqui and John Mullen generously donated SY Ena to the museum through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
The SY Ena Conservation Fund was kicked off with a major donation by the Sutherland Foundation. The Foundation is seeking to grow this Fund to support this conservation of this extremely important heritage vessel.
SY Ena is now on display, wharf side at the museum.