Category Archives: Steam power

Amsterdam harbour, 1919

I particularly like the bit at the end where the cameraman takes us along waterways into the town. My thanks to Hans-Christian Rieck for passing this one along!

Rowing lifeboat re-enactment to commemorate Lusitania sinking and rescue

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A contemporary illustration shows the Lusitania sinking as Irish fishermen and lifeboats race to the rescue (from the Wikipedia)

The Courtmacsherry RNLI crew is organising a series of events to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boat U-20 early in the Great War on the 7th May 1915.

A part of the County Cork village’s commemoration will be a re-enactment of the the call to service in which volunteers will row a lifeboat of the era 12 nautical miles to the disaster site.

The Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania went down 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 and leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

According to the Wikipedia, argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made claims about the ship’s cargo – several attempts to dive on the wreck to seek information have been made over the years, and the argument continues to the present day.

The re-enactment will use the Polperro Lifeboat Trust’s lifeboat Ryder, which is an engineless restored pulling and sailing lifeboat built in 1902, and very similar to the lifeboat Kezia Gwilt stationed at Courtmacsherry in 1915.

The commemoration will also include exhibitions at Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Station and the local Community Hall, and a commemeration dinner.

The local organisers are appealing for artefacts, stories and memorabilia to include in the exhibitions – they would love to hear from any family members of those lost or saved in the Lusitania tragedy. If you can help, contact them at lusitaniacentenary@gmail.com. Loaned memorabilia or artefacts will be receipted by the curators and will be returned to owners after the exhibition.

Other Lusitania centenary commemorations are to be held nearby at Cobh, the Old Head of Kinsale, and Kinsale – see the Visit Cork County website.

A postcard of Her Majesty’s Yacht Alberta and the Titanic – a correction

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Well, I got it wrong – I believed this was the Royal steam yacht HMY Alberta pictured at Cowes the Titanic in the background – but thanks to the sharp-eyed Chris Partridge of the excellent Rowing for Pleasure weblog, I now know this SY Alberta is a different vessel – and correctly named.

SY Alberta changed hands during 1912 and at the time of the photo may have been either the property of either London company  Little & Johnston, which operated her as the royal yacht to King Leopold II of Belgium, or to a Mr Cohn.

The SY Alberta’s story is told by a page on the website of acutioneers Christie’s.

She was designed by GL Watson and built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co at Troon in 1896, and began life as the Margarita – she was the second of three yachts with the same name owned by Philadelphia banker AJ Drexel. Registered at 1,322 tons (Thames), she measured 252½ feet in length with a 33½ foot beam and sported a schooner rig on two raked masts.

SY Alberta had quite a career. By 1918 she was serving in the Russian Navy until seized by the Royal Navy and put to work as a despatch vessel as HMS Surprise. She then passed into private hands b7ut rejoined the Royal Navy in 1939. Things become a little hazy from that point, but she reappeared after WWII ended and was last listed as a yacht in 1950.

I don’t think there’s any doubt about the Titanic. She sank in the North Atlantic five days later, on the 15 April 1912.

A lady called Mary sent the scan of the postcard and asked about the steam yacht – so Mary, please scrub my previous answer and replace it with the correct one. And thanks for the scan of the postcard!