Some folks in Germany are getting up a petition to try to persuade the German authorities to change their minds – and allow the 1890 Brixham-built trawler Ethel von Brixham to continue chartering.
The vessel is in danger because the German authorities have judged her to be non-traditional because she has a more modern schooner sailing rig rather than her original gaff rig and therefore has to comply with different and much more arduous safety regulations – and I gather they have made similar decisions about other craft.
If allowed to stand, this argument could have serious repercussions for many historic craft that have been altered in some way over the years, and in Ethel’s case it will mean that her chartering days will have to end and her owner, Gerhard Bialek of Kiel, will no longer be able to keep her afloat.
The Ethel is particularly important because:
- she is the oldest Brixham trawler afloat, of about nine in European waters today
- her career has been typical of the many English smacks sold to Scandinavia. She worked in the Swedish fisheries from Bohuslän from 1906, and then served in the coastal trade of northern Norway from 1927 to 1980
- among the Brixham trawlers, she probably the greatest amount of original superstructure
As written, the petition is here: Petition_Ethel von Brixham
If you are in favour, please mail or email Hermann Ostermann at the address given at the bottom of the petition letter. If I hear that an online petition has been created, I will post again about the issue here at intheboatshed.net .
Hermann sent me some fascinating documents about Ethel von Brixham and other Brixham trawlers’ careers: Brixham smacks to Scandinavia, Brixham trawlers to Sweden, Smacks still sailing, and Ethel history.