Nick Burningham grew up in a small farming village in southern England in an entirely non-nautical family, but was always obsessed with sailing ships and boats. In 1973 he left England for Australia. After a short career beachcombing in north Queensland he went to Indonesia to investigate the engineless sailing craft still operating there, and over the following decade owned and sailed on several Indonesian perahu. Burningham has written numerous academic papers about traditional watercraft of South-East Asia. He also designed and supervised the construction of several replica sailing vessels, including the Duyfken.