News from my inbox: SS Shieldhall appeal, crossing the Atlantic by raft and surfboard building

SS Shieldhall on the Clyde 2005

Government grants for historic ships have dried up and the SS Shieldhall urgently needs £80,000 if she is to continue sailing

Just a few items from my inbox today.

Historic steamship SS Shieldhall needs £80,000 to keep sailing

One of the country’s most important historic steam ships has launched and appeal for survival, amid ongoing concerns that Britain’s maritime heritage is in decline.

Registered charity The Solent Steam Packet is appealing for £80,000 to secure the future of SS Shieldhall, a historic steam-driven cargo and passenger ship that some time ago was named ‘Flagship of the National Historic Ships Fleet’. In spring 2011 she will require dry-docking, which is necessary if she is to continue to sail – however the cost will be £80,000 to £100,000.  The charity says that budget cuts mean that grants are no longer routinely available to pay for maintenance work on heritage ships, and that our seafaring nation now risks losing many of its most significant vessels.

I sincerely hope they’re overstating the case or we could be in big trouble where some very important vessels are concerned.

Antiki – crossing the Atlantic on a raft made of plastic tubes

People try to cross bodies of water in a variety of craft both crazy and otherwise.

On this occasion part of the twist on this occasion is that the skipper, author Anthony Smith, is in his mid-80s and the vessel is made up of industrial plastic tubes tied together. The link above goes to the expedition weblog.

As you’d expect from the writer of the best-selling book The Body (The Human Body in the US), this silly-sounding voyage has several serious aims, including raising money for Water Aid, studying plankton in the age of global warming, and as a reminder of the dreadful bu often forgotten losses suffered by the merchant navy during World War II.

Surfboard building

Paul Reisberg has written to say that he’s hosting a three-day workshop by Rich Blundell on how to build a hollow wooden surfboard in Pembrokeshire at half-term this month – if you’re going to have a little time on your hands around then, love surfing and woodwork this might be for you. More information is available from the link above, and from Rich’s website.