Category Archives: Working boats

Aboard the Mark Prior

The Priors vessels carrying gravel from Fingringhoe to Deptford are a frequent sight on the Thames Estuary if you sail that way. They’re comforting in a way, for they can be almost the only other craft on the water…

So it’s nice to see that Chris Gosling has wangled his way aboard to make a film about their work.

Rowing lifeboat re-enactment to commemorate Lusitania sinking and rescue

Doomed_Lusitania

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.

Did you know? Boat building on stage, with sex

Oysters poster

The astonishingly enterprising folks at the Pioneer Sailing Trust at Brightlingsea have commissioned a touring play about the oyster trade, and boat building. Well, it’s one way to make sure people know the story of Brightlingsea’s oyster trade, and probably a good one as it will reach new audiences and get newspaper coverage.

One I saw suggested that boat building itself is about to become sexy. Well it is already, of course!

My thanks to Paul Quarry for letting me know about this – I’ve no doubt it will be illuminating as well as entertaining. I wonder whether it will be coming our way. Read more about it on the website of the theatre company currently performing the show, Eastern Angles, including some reviews.

Here’s what the trust says about it:

“A tale of sex, boat-building and bivalve molluscs”

Oysters is a new touring theatre production from Eastern Angles.
This play will tour the East of England from March 11th – June 6th
It is sponsored by Ipswich Building Society & Abellio Greater Anglia
Oysters is written and directed by Eastern Angles’ Artistic Director,
Ivan Cutting. Combining local fact and contemporary storytelling, this new play captures the soul of an ancient East Anglian industry, celebrating and preserving the past by putting in on stage.
Focusing on the restoration of an Essex Oyster Smack, the show incorporates oral history accounts of boatbuilding and Oyster cultivation with the fictional story of an Essex boat builder and his intriguing family back-story.

The main character, Mo has just turned fifty and is busy restoring an oyster dredger recovered from an Essex riverbed. Helping him bring the boat back to life is Angie, a young apprentice with chip on her shoulder. Also in the frame are Kasey an intern from the local university, Pamela the formidable fundraiser in charge of the restoration project and the mystical Pearl, an ‘Earth Mother’ with a potent story to tell. When a piece of Mo’s beloved dredger goes missing their lives are up-ended and the past floats to the surface.

Oysters has been researched and developed as part of the Pioneer Sailing Trust Land and Sea project, which is focused on restoring the 1893 Oyster Smack Priscilla.

Eastern Angles are known for creating theatre work with a local flavour. Ivan Cutting’s previous maritime-related shows include When The Boats Came In(about the Lowestoft fishing industry) and Beyond The Breakers (about East Coast Lifeboat service). He also directed the Arthur Ransome adaptation We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea and Up Out o’ The Sea.

Oysters will tour the East of England from March 11th – June 6th. It will be performed at the Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich from Monday 20th April – Saturday 25th April with a free pre-show talk on Monday 20th 7pm – 7.30pm.

Eastern Angles will also take the show to the Pioneer Sailing Trust’s headquarters in Brightlingsea for a three-day residency on the 7th, 8th and 9thMay. Friday night will be a special £15 a ticket Gala performance including complimentary pre-show drinks and an introductory talk whilst Saturday’s shows will be part of a full day of PST activities and wraparound events.