Category Archives: Sailing ships

Topsail schooner Pickle to have a new life thanks to Mal Nicholson

1280px-HMSPicklereplica

HMS Pickle replica“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The fabulous replica of Nelson’s topsail schooner HMS Pickle that featured in Tom Cunliffe’s TV series Boats that Built Britain has been bought by Mal Nicholson, owner of the magnificent Humber sloop Spider T.

After Trafalgar, HMS Pickle famously carried the news of Nelson’s great victory back to Britain – along with the news of Nelson’s own death.

The schooner is currently moored in Ocean Village in Gibraltar and is undergoing repairs. After many years of owning and running Spider T, I’m quite certain Mal knows what he’s in for – but great good luck to him and his helpers.

Previous owner Robin James’s family has owned Pickle for the past nine years. He said that the decision to sell the ship had been extremely difficult : ‘I have poured my soul into her over the past nine years, and in return she has carried me and many new friends safely through storms and adventures.

‘But after a difficult voyage to Gibraltar followed by a failure to get the much needed support to make her a success, this is the best decision to secure her future. The decision to sell Pickle has been made far easier by finding Mal, who I trust to continue to care for her and get her sailing again, while continuing to share her with everybody from her past, present and future.’

Mal said that during her time with Robin, Pickle had won many friends and supporters, and achieved amazing things.

For information see the Pickle facebook page  where he will post information future plans for the vessel, and will be re-developing the website www.schoonerpickle.com.

Mr James added that that an unknown author once wrote the following lines, which summarised his feelings on Pickle’s sale:

‘I’d rather be the ship that sails And rides the billows wild and free; Than to be the ship that always fails To leave its port and go to sea.
I’d rather feel the sting of strife, Where gales are born and tempests roar;
Than to settle down to useless life And rot in dry dock on the shore. I’d rather fight some mighty wave With honour in supreme command; And fill at last a well-earned grave, Than die in ease upon the sand.
I’d rather drive where sea storms blow, And be the ship that always failed
To make the ports where it would go, Than be the ship that never sailed.’

 Meanwhile, I will be casually dropping these words into the conversation at social gatherings: ‘I know a bloke who has a topsail schooner. Oh yes… ‘

 

Two sea shanties for singing sailors

Two proper sea shanties that are highly suitable for the singing sailor.

I gather ‘noggin’ was a very rude word a century or two back but seems remarkably harmless now… And for that I guess we can thank Oliver Postgate, creator of the cartoon character Noggin the Nog.

PS – And here’s a forebitter about a common sailor’s fantasy – the young woman who dresses as a boy and goes to sea.

Square rigged sailing ship Peking rounds Cape Horn

Here’s some classic footage of the square rigger Peking rounding Cape Horn – and some other bits and pieces. My thanks to regular reader Martin O’Scannall for sending this link over.

By the way – this YouTube is really rather poor and I’m told by regular reader Chris Brady that the Mystic Seaport Museum has a much better version on sale on DVD.

Russian project to build a new Cutty Sark

Replica Cutty Sark project

A group based in Russia has emerged with plans to build a new, sailing Cutty Sark – and even more extraordinary plans to revive tea clipper racing. Read about the original Cutty Sark here.

I’m amazed and impressed, and hope it all works out!

The initiators are led by Captain Vladimir Martus, owner and builder of the Shtandart, a replica of Russia’s first naval vessel, which was built by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, and was also named Shtandart. She was launched in 2000 and has sailed ever since – so I guess they know what they’re doing.

The plan is to lay the keel of the new vessel in 2017, and to launch the new Cutty Sark in 2019. As the site says, the first step is to acquire copies of as much documentation as possible to make it possible for the project to go ahead.

EW Cooke’s Fifty Plates of Shipping and Craft, published in 1829

Fifty plates of shipping and craft , a collection of drawings by EW Cooke, 1811-80. They were published in 1829, when he was just 18…

Read about him here.

As Arthur Percival points out (comments below – thanks Arthur) there’s a relatively recent biography, if you’re interested and have a few bob to hand.

 

Restored 1841 whaler Charles W Morgan makes her first trip in over 70 years

Maine-built 1841 whaling ship Charles W Morgan has been towed down river from Mystic Seaport, where she has been kept since 1941, to New London. Read all about her story and find many more photos here.

Happily over the last five years she has been restored at Mystic’s Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard.

At New London she will be ballasted and tested for stability, and her sails will be bent. The photo above shows her crew throwing heaving lines as the ship tied up – the davits all round her will shortly bear her magnificent new whaleboats.

She’s about to set out on her 38th voyage, which will take place this summer in company of two tugs provided by Tisbury Towing of Martha’s Vineyard and the Seaport Museum’s eastern-rigged dragger Roann.

I saw the Charles W Morgan at Mystic many years ago and wondered what her future might be. This seems like a great result - and makes me wonder how it would be if we in the UK got around to building a new clipper. Now wouldn’t that be something…

PS – And how about a string of new small workshops and yards around our coast building and maintaining boat types local to their areas using traditional methods, teaching people to sail them and training youngsters while they are at it? The Faversham Creek Trust seems to me to be an excellent example of what could be done much more widely, and they’re not the only ones. Think of Rescue Wooden Boats… In the past with only a few teaching establishments, they haven’t always had that local focus.

It may be controversial to say so, but I do feel that – sailing barges aside – sailing the larger traditional boats is only open to folks who can afford to keep them and the friends they invite to help sail them - it seems like a closed kind of club, and in the long term I worry that situation will not help in keeping the boats going…

National Historic Ships annual photographic competition 2014

Once again, National Historic Ships UK is running its annual photography competition for this year, and offering a range of equipment and cash prizes to be won.

There are categories for all ages, including one for young photographers under 18.

Entries must be in by the 31 August – the collection above represent some of the judges’ favourites submitted so far this month.

To enter in any of the competition categories, fill in an online entry form and upload your images to the National Historic Ships UK competition webpage at www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk.

There are rules and so on to check on the site also, as well as a handy web gizmo to enable photographers to identify historic ships that local to them and which might provide suitable subjects. (I think non-photographers will find that interesting too!)

Still more, the site has a set of tips for photographers working with marine topics – and one of them says that you deon’t have to have a special camera and that you’re more likely to have a small camera with you when the moment arises. So I guess my little Panasonic will do.

By the way, I’m not a judge but I’m going off the very processed multi-exposure shots we’ve seen so often in recent years, and – bravo! – I’m delighted to see that the judges’ favourites submitted so far during April don’t fall into that category.

PS – The Marsh Awards for volunteers - National Historic Ships is also calling for nominations of volunteers for the Marsh awards, which recognise those who have made a significant contribution to the conservation or operation of historic vessels in the UK.

There is an overall prize of £1,000 to be won for the Marsh Volunteer Award, and £500 for the young volunteer of the year, which is available to nominees aged 25 or under. Both prizes are donated by the Marsh Christian Trust.

Both awards will be presented at our National Historic Ships UK Awards Ceremony, being held in October on HQS Wellington.

Last year’s winners included James Dulson and George Collinson, who have volunteered for a number of years at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool, helping to conserve historic vessels including Edmund Gardner, and Isabelle Law who has volunteered as crew on the ferry Glenachulish for the past five years despite having only recently turned 16 years old.

The closing date for nomination is 31 August. Read what to do and about the Marsh awards here.