“You can’t keep a great old schooner down!”

At 9:30 in the morning of Thursday, March 8, 2007 the schooner Lord Jim quietly slipped below the surface of the crystal-clear waters around Ilha dos Meros, Brazil…

It’s soon six years ago that the schooner LORD JIM (ex-MERIDIAN, BLUE WATER, SHOAL WATER): 72’3″ LOA John Alden-designed, Lawley-built keel schooner, 1936, hit a rock and sank in Brazil.  She was raised and taken to a shipyard where she was restored, but from there the situation deteriorated. Owners Holger Kreuzhage and Tracy Brown-Kreuzhage have remained in Brazil since then, caught up in a nightmare of a legal battle trying to get their ship free from the corrupt crock who owns the shipyard.

Lord Jim and their owners need our help to get their ship and their life back. Please, sign this petition, it’s the least we can do.

For some extended info on the whole situation, check this articles. Two parts, one written in 2010 and another from august this year.

Our ship sank off Brazil’s coast March 2007, we are still here held hostage, Part 1

Part 2

The intelligent hemp

Here’s a sweet picture to linger on to for a while. Awesome capture of some fabulous work.

Here’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, five tiny, tiny mariners in the process of making an eye splice on a 4″ inch rope. They seem quite jolly even though under the watchful eyes of a well dressed officer who has his smooth hands conveniently tucked behind his back.

Ok. The real capture is like this:
The year is 1941 and workers in HMC Dockyard is splicing a 20″ hemp cable.
(Library and Archives Canada)

Yes, hemp, this wonderful natural fiber that sailed the seas, clothed(ships and people), nourished and lightened as well as enlightened people and their homes for thousands of years, before being recklessly banned by the US government in 1937 and by the UN who was forced to follow in 1961.

This plant is enormously versatile and can be used to produce over thousand of products, many of which today are petroleum based. Which is also a big reason why it was banned, of course.

Hemp is real nice to sail and to work with. There ain’t nothing like it, actually. To feel the tension of the smooth, tarred rigging stretching and living while you’re running up there to take a reef is a spectacular feeling of being a part of a big living creature, that surges over the wild sea, which is indeed living too.

Right now you might be thinking that this sounds a lot like what you have felt on a ship with petroleum-based rigging, which is probably true…. I kind of got of on a tangent there.
But hemp is amazing. To work with a running and standing rigging in hemp has a special feeling and you have to learn how it acts and reacts and when you do you get the feeling that it is indeed working with you to tackle every situation the best way.
And when you think about the craftmanship being put into the making of the rope, and even try some rope making yourself, every strand and every single yarn is needed in that special place and in that precise condition for this one purpose, it is pretty stupendous.

La Grace update

Sadly the brig La Grace still lays foundered on El Cable beach in Marbella (4.8711519 ° W, 36.5072692 ° N) (see post below) while her condition is getting worse everyday.

The good news is that the salvage operation now seems to be underway. The owners seem to have come to terms, somewhat, with the insurance company and a dredging company has been found that will try to carry out the task of putting her back afloat, before she is broken up by the pounding waves.

Let’s hope that will happen as soon as possible and that it will go smooth. Hopefully La Grace is not too much damaged. As far as I can understand, the insurance company will pay for the repair of the damages, but not the salvage – so help is still needed.

The plan seems to be to take her to the port of Algeciras, where she will be hauled out for repairs.

Main thing is that she is afloat before any major damage happens, then the financial problems and legal aspects can be solved, I hope.

La Grace aground!

Oh boy. A sight like this could be a pretty one. But unfortunately this one is not a ship careened to get some hull work done. Quite the opposite. This is the beautiful lines of the Czech brig La Grace, ran aground on a beach in southern Spain, a heartbreaking sight that lingers and aches in every sailors soul.

The information on what happened to La Grace is shorthanded, but it seems like she was laying at anchor close to Puerto de la Bajadilla in Marbella, Spain on October 26 when a storm hit in the morning. She started dragging her anchor – a feeling of unease that is indeed – and on top of that had an engine failure – and ran aground stern first. Her rudder was knocked out and not maneuverable she ran aground on Playa el Cable. All of the eight crew members who was aboard the vessel were fine and managed to get ashore by themselves. La Grace is right now laying on a 1.5 m shallow shoal just a stone throw out from the beach. She is listing about 20 degree’s to port and is taking in water and sand.
It now seems like the owners have problem to scramble enough funds to get her afloat, which would be a damn shame and a big loss if they couln’t. Right now we can only hope that the damage is not too bad and that she is afloat as soon as possible.

The owners are pleading for the tall ship and sailing communities help! The Spanish authorities are saying that she need to be removed within 15 days from the wreckage, otherwise they will/can eliminate her (?!) La Grace needs to get afloat ASAP, with or without the insurance companies help (which happens to be Spanish and doesn’t seem very concerned about getting the ship afloat).

Help La Grace in this crisis situation!

Account: La Grace

Acc. No: 240290748/0300

SWIFT: CEKOCZPP

IBAN: CZ90 0300 0000 0002 4029 0748

Variable symbol: 26102012If you have any questions, you can contact:

Dan Rosecký (Dan@lagrace.cz)

Lucie Forštová (Lucie@ifp-publishing.cz)

Jaroslav Foršt (jaroslav@ifp-publishing.cz).

La Grace is a brand spanking new Brig that was launched by some sailing enthusiasts in the Czech republic in December 2010. She is a replica of a 18th century brig and is based on blueprints from the Swedish naval architect, Fredrik Henrik af Chapman, from 1768.

She is named La Grace after the Czech explorer and merchant Augustine Herman’s (1621-1686) frigate with the same name. The old La Grace sailed waters in Europe, Caribbeans and North America and is particularly known for her corsair affairs against the Spanish merchants. On a side note, Herman has alot of interesting history of his involvement in the Dutch West India Company, New Amsterdam, Chesapeake and the Delaware Bay area, worth looking into.

The new La Grace was built during only two years in Egypt where boat building is still done much in a traditional way. ”If you turned a blind eye to the T-shirts with advertising signs worn by local workers, you have the impression that you are in the 18 century.”, they state on La Grace’s homepage.

As always with these kind of projects, enormous amounts of blood, sweat, toil, tears, time and love was put in by volunteers, together with boat builders and other professionals. She was built with the purpose of preserving Czech maritime history and to teach traditional knowledge and skills.

The first year afloat she spent sailing from Africa to Europe and later set sail for her first transatlantic voyage to the Caribbeans, where she stayed until April this year. Since then she has been operating in the Med, where she now is sadly aground.

La Grace:
Homeport: Prague
126 tons
LOA 32.3m (106ft),
Height 25m (82ft)
Draught 2.8m (9.2ft)
364sqm sail area (3 918 sq ft)

A sad end

I recently learned the sad news that the old Australian brigantine the Golden Plover has been broken up.
 Golden Plover was built 1910 in Melbourne, Australia. The 30 meter long wooden hull was originally built as a steam-powered tug that could also carry cargo and worked as a government harbour boat.

Fifty years later she was transformed into a lobster fisher and was a working vessel until she was damaged by a fire onboard. For several years she laid sunken in the Maribyrong river in Melbourne.

Golden Plover before she was restored in the 1960'sThere the German Jacoby brothers, Helmut, Gunther and Gerhardt found her. They raised, restored, rerigged and gave her a 150hp diesel engine. She was launched again in 1974. In the seventies the Jacoby brothers sailed her to Europe and visited their hometown, Cologne. I have not been able to find much more about the trip to Europe and back, but she did return to Australia and was put up for sale in 1982.
Local John deVere bought her and ran charter sails in the Whitsunday Islands, off the coast of Queensland. A place that looks truly amazing and must be a terrific place to experience in a wooden ship, be it with Captain Cook on the Endeavour or on the Golden Plover a few hundred years later.

Some sources say that after the Plover sailed to Europe she was put into service in England, but i have failed to find anything more on that, either way must have been short if she was back in Oz by 1982.

Golden Plover under sail seen from the bowspritHowever, there are some nice shots of the Plover under sail, since she starred in several movies; Blue Lagoon, Dead Calm, Paradise Found and Tribes and Eliza Jane.

 

(Some interesting stunsail operation going on in these pictures.)

By the end of the eighties the Plover was the oldest working commercial boat in Australia. In the middle of the nineties she went up to Cairns, where it seems like she did some ”Great Barrier Reef boat partying tours”, and maintenance must have fallen short.

I have seen the same phenomena in other places. Nice old wooden boats that are being used as a partying vessel in crystal blue waters in a bay somewhere in perfect vision for the coked up drink smooching and shag screaming piss drunk raving english speaking synthetic drug mongers on the beaches. Like an umbrella in some new money made up characters kerosene stinking drink. That will make any wooden hull rot up faster than a washed up fish on a beach in Thailand.

But let’s not go off on a tangent here, I have no clue if this was the case with the Plover. Apparently she was broken up into a pile of soggy timbers after sitting 20 months  on the Cairns slipway hardstand in a special cradle on land.
I know that last year there was a couple working on trying to save and eventually restore her, but that fight seems to have been lost, unfortunately.

There is not much info to be found on what happened to her in Cairns and why she deteriorated into something not worth saving. In this article from Whitsunday Times they only quote the slipways manager who says that she was in poor condition.
I would hope so if she was broken up.

For some nice pictures of the Plovers days of glory, check out the Facebook-group Friends of the Golden Plovers photo album, where members have been adding some nice shots (a few that I have been barrowing here, thanks for that).

Golden Plover under sail, seen from the starboard quarter

Her brigantine rig is a nice one with three big squares which in the midst of the head- and staysails, the beautiful geometry with the main and the top makes it a soul soothing feeling to see that silhouette on the water.

The loss of a ship

Painting of HMS Nile under sail

Here’s a painting of HMS Nile under sail. Portrayed in a common way among marine artists, the ship is coming towards the viewer and we can see the sails on all her three masts. A motive that for some marine artists was quite hard to paint themselves out of – if they wanted to make a living on their painting. Customers who saw a painting with a motive like this would put in an order for a similar one. It sold. Which is understandable, it’s from an attractive angle, but we’ve seen one too many by now and me myself has no problem in finding a boat sailing away from me attractive. There are indeed sexy boat asses out there, believe me.

I stood on the jetty shooting out from the harbour of Visby (capital of Gotland – an island on the Swedish east coast) and watched the ship I arrived to the island in, sail off into the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen.

ship on the water
sails on the horizon
setting sun, summer breeze
far from the end,
nothing to amend

The  building of the second-rate ship of the line HMS Nile started in 1826 at the Dockyard in Plymouth. She was built out of wood, had a sparred length of 205 feet (62.64 m), depth 54 feet (16.59 ) and carried 92 guns on two decks. The costs for her building was £86,197.
She survived several adventures around the world, among them Crimean war and supposedly the American civil war. In 1876 she was retired and served as a school ship for the naval academy in Liverpool. During World War II she was towed to the Menai Strait, in North Wales. In 1953, being towed away for a refit, she ran aground and wrecked.
She was being towed by two boats, one in the bow and one in the stern. Fighting strong tidal currents, the boat in the bow couldn’t make any progress and the second boat in the stern came forward to help. This caused the stern to swing in the strong currents and the tugs couldn’t hold her. She ran up on some rocks where she “broke her back” when the tide went out. All efforts to try to tow her free was in vain and she was left to her destiny, which was not to rot away slowly. For three years she was sitting in the strait, then in 1956, she burned and was gone.

HMS Conway aground in Menai Strait
What a tragic sight that is.
After the towing incident there was, of course, some discussions concerning what happened. Some said that the pilots were ignored and other questions why she was towed through such a narrow passage with strong tidal streams and shifting banks, to start with. Anyhow, she was sitting there and was not going anywhere.

This site has an extensive source of HMS Conway information.
Lots of nice photo’s, I specially enjoyed this album.