Op Drake Anniversary
Leg three - Great Yarmouth to Kiel
The Eye of the Wind Centennial Voyage 2011
June the 4th saw a gathering of Friends of the Eye of the Wind for one more time, possibly the last time. Tiger had phoned me a year earlier to say that as the Germans could not say what they were doing in 2011 for the centenary so quote "I put my head above the parapet and said how much", so it was that the smart and much travelled little brigantine was booked for a few weeks sailing. This had to be divided up among the many that had sailed with the ship during her ocean wanderings during the intervening years since 1970 under the ownership of Tiger Timbs and partners, there were five. Four times round the globe once to Cape Horn that was in 1991. Once winning the first and overall best in race prize in the Tall Ships Races. The Concours de Elegance. A real pinnacle of achievement for a privately owned vessel. Even dividing up the sailing into five day trips and a couple of day sails, the latter out of Weymouth there was a waiting list for berths nine months in advance of sailing days.
Much work had gone into collecting photographs for the CD-ROM and then putting all that together as a photo display, this along with a CD-ROM detailing the ships life up to now both well worth a look. Many of you will know what drives Tiger, well it all started when he was crewing the 1919 Svenborg built Barquentine New Endeavour ex Dana in 1965 they were in the Pacific when with the crew called on deck Captain Kemble said "Who threw the holystones over the side, come on own up" he went on a bit then said "all right I won't take you to the Marquesas" That is when Tiger said that we decided to own our own ship so we could go to the places we wanted to go. Captain Kemble had been famous on the Dulverton trust Schooner Captain Scott for standing on deck in the all together after removing his coat and asking to be hosed down when crews of trainees refused to take salt water washes on dour October mornings in the North Atlantic. So we come to June 2011.
Gillian Allen who I sailed with from Antigua on the delivery trip when the Eye was sold to Ole the Dane had offered her and her partner Guy's delightful farm at Chelwood Dorset as a base and party venue. The local Public school had a large hall which was extended by attaching a marquee, so with camping in the fields and breakfasts in the tented farm yard area the scene was set. There were Voyagers, Young Voyagers, Operation Drake and those of us who over the years just adventured to foreign parts all over the world. I for instance had not seen or been in contact with Ian Walker of Charleston Virginia since 1997 at Papeete. Ian told me that Mickey Douglas who had been with us then now in her late eighties is still hale and hearty and as up for it as, she was when she climbed up to the t'gallant yard at seventy three. Thew, who I had stood watch with many a time is now as he put it working for the dark side designing Sun seeker Yachts, he did say not for ever. We reminisced about the Kava we had on Maewo all those years ago a tuff drink by any standard made by, crushing the plant root and straining the water it is mixed with through a sock into a pot then offering it at ceremonies that involved a coconut shell followed by some difficulty standing up which is probably why it is taken on your knees from the giver. Fred made one of his special punches lots of very good rum in that one and only a guess at the other contents. Beer from the barrel real ale only I am afraid. Tiger had intended a raffle for pieces of the main boom that had been prepared by Fred who had saved the damaged spar. It broke off the Spanish coast in 1994 crushing Geoff Andrew-Arthurs hand, he was on the helm at the time, and he had to be evacuated by helicopter for his repairs. In the event the raffle had been forgotten and so it was all comers for a piece of history. The following morning Tiger was caught on camera putting his signature to these little pieces of history. There were two planned day sails on Saturday many went down to the Quay at Weymouth a thirty minute drive away to take a look at the birthday girl. It seemed odd to watch her coming into moor up using bow thrusters and not as formally, with a rubber ducky pushing her bow round. It also seemed odd to see her sails hanging in their gear. Tiger would have had a harbour stow was the cry of many. The old lady apart is being well looked after, all nice and shiny except that the varnish may not be quite? Perhaps: a smidgen off Tigers standard. Well that was the party all filled up with Chocolate cake, beer and rum punch it was a happy crowd that made their way home from Weymouth. Frank Essen trundled off in his Land Rover with collapsible tent on the roof the sort of thing you might see on safari, towing behind him his? I believe a 1909 built trailer caravan, very lovely but primitive accommodation by today's standard. I have the memory of a not so young `Young Voyager' after a heavy night of it on the Saturday night curling up in his sleeping bag in the corner of a marquee. He was still there the following morning FAST ASLEEP. Oh there was Johnno who else! Well he said it was a long way from Tassie but he had to be there for the last hurrah, had to do it mate, just had to! Only here for a week.
I had not been home long before the phone rings, Debbie here we have a problem can you help? Robin had not realized that the leg she is on from Weymouth is not returning there, if we can get her car to you. Will, you take it on to Yarmouth, that is Great Yarmouth for her. Miranda will bring the car to you for onward delivery she is flying home from Heathrow. Yes that's ok we leave here on the morning of the 10th to join ship, it was a pity that my son Stephen and I had booked rail tickets that we could not cancel but hey never mind. Miranda whose father was Mike Captain Kitchenside arrived with car Stephen and I packed our stuff into it and set off for Great Yarmouth dropping Miranda off at the Station. Miranda was eighteen months old when she was in New Endeavour with her father who was the bosun at the time. Now the mother of four: The children have been left at home in Sydney with their Dad; my Pat said he is a brave man?
Stephen and I arrived in a windswept and wet East Anglian town to find the Eye of the Wind moored up alongside the town quay on the Yar. With the Tall Ships Youth Trust`s Stavros S Niarchos in the process of mooring astern of her. It was pretty alien to this seafarer to see crew on the fore and aft decks wearing hard hats, high viz jackets life vests, full body harnesses and probably steel toed boots, health and safety gone mad no doubt, most of the trainees were in the well-deck of the brig. I was told there is even a running line to clip on while climbing, I was told if one falls off the shrouds then the others follow and all end up in a heap on the deck?
The car handed over to Robin we set off for the Nelson museum on the other side of the quay. I learnt that Emma had two daughters' twins, Horatia was kept, and the sister was passed to a foundling home, perhaps not such a nice family after all. We ate ashore as a group after which a few of us went on to a pub. The King Johns Arms for a sing, when Stephen and I arrived at the pub the mob from the Stavros were being led in singing by Sue and John formerly of the Mollyhawks shanty group. It did not take long to join in with them; Sue said a week ago this crowd had not sung a word. My old mate Stocks`y who I had met on Grand Turk and sailed with in Julia in 2000 was in full flow, both in beer and voice. It was not long before I joined in leading Donkey Riding and Maui, the first a capstan shanty the latter the finest of the whaling songs ever collected. I get a mobile phone waved under my nose by Sue who asks do you know this one. I can sing it from these words on the web but do you know it? So I sung Spanish ladies a pumping shanty and forebitter it was a request, hey not bad the person who requested it bought me a pint for my trouble CHEERS: We were in our bunks by midnight as it was to be an early start. My ears still wringing with the sound of shanty singing as I closed the pub door and walked along the quay to the ship.
Ian had told me last night that he remained a supporter of the Confederacy and was there and on parade when they reburied the CSS H L Hunley's lost crew. The H L Hunley was the first submarine to sink another vessel when using a spar torpedo she struck the Federal warship the Housatonic on the 17th of February 1864, during what to most is the American Civil War, but to Southerners remains: The War of Northern Aggression. They will often add there was nothing civil at all about it.
Saturday the 11th June: It is 0630 and we have the pilot aboard just after we had coffee. No trouble getting the crew up this morning it is day one after all a dull grey day as we motor out down the Yar to open sea, a bit wet but otherwise not so bad. The pilot is fare-welled, we go about setting sail for Germany and the Kiel Canal, all a bit experimental really, sails had hung in their gear and the lines had become a little tangled, not put away cleanly as they should have been. The crew are both rusty on our part and on the ships part some do not have a great deal of experience, the skipper is Dutch and so are a number of his crew who are 7 in number Captain Julius, AB Alida Cook Jac, are Dutch, the Mate Nora is doubling up as engineer as he is still in Germany ill and could not sail for this charter, AB Laura is from Barcelona which makes two Spanish girls in the crew, Jonas and Ola the Swedish brothers both AB`s make up the balance of the ship's crew. We set the usual relaxed three watch system, 4 on and 8 off. Tiger, former master and part owner myself and Kate made the 12-4. Terri, Peter, Stephen (my son), Kaye and Claire made up the 4-8 the soldiers watch. Stan, Ian and Inga made the 8-12 and with Leslie Ritter one of the former owners completes the voyagers on this passage to Kiel. I believe Inga is the only one not to have sailed in the Eye previously. Skipper is not expecting a blow this trip, he says that he expects a fair wind for the passage across as far as the Elbe estuary. For me these five days are to be special as I have a birthday coming up in a day or two. Time for a welcome breakfast: of bacon and egg with toast and coffee. I get to do the first stint as Peggy washing up well! Someone has to; the rule is the ships cook does not wash up ever. The crew and voyagers stand around the helm chatting, no sitting on the life rafts any more as they are now forward mounted on brackets above head height no doubt giving more wind-age. A far cry from the Pacific when I had at one time been sitting on the raft with Tiger and Peter, Kerry the Australian Nurse was at the helm when I was asked by one of the female crew who stood in front of us looking for somewhere to sit, can you give me seven inches? There was a great laugh as Kerry turned round and said well can you. On another occasion an Italian girl stood in front of the helm at change-over and contrary to the usual rules at hand over which should have been what course, shouted give it me! The English language is a wonderful thing. I digress for now we have to stand there being no sitting position available.
The new owners have thoughtfully provided seating on the monkey-poop which behind the deckhouse protrudes a little too far above it, great in harbour not so at sea. I get a trick at the helm and then lunch of pie and a great mushroom soup. Rather too close to my lunch I am asked if I will go up to loose the main course! But ok someone has to. My rope harness that I have worn since Sørlandet when we made them during the Atlantic crossing in 1981 was, deemed unsuitable; although it was said by Captain Julius "it will save your life". I have always trusted my life to a yard and a half of line a karabiner in one end and tied a bowline around me; it also carries my knife and spike. So quick simple and comfortable I always wear it when on deck. I bet if there was a need to go aloft suddenly I would be allowed. It took a full five minutes to clamber into the rather restrictive and uncomfortable full body harness. I did not go aloft again or out on the bowsprit which I should have because of this foolish rule. I had come adequately prepared after all. In the event it was only the main course that was furled the entire trip at sea. I will continue the menu it was not so bad and a lot better than on the old windjammers of course. For dinner we had salmon with a spinach cake, baked potato and a crème bramble, I am still unsure what that was. We also had artichoke with a garlic dip I found the artichoke rather tasteless and best left in the field. My Stephen had a hand in the garlic dip when cookie Jac asked him to prepare two cloves of garlic, old cloth ears miss heard and did two bowls of garlic the source of much later amusement and of course garlic for the rest of the trip. Jac is the mother of a fourteen year old son left at home so she could do this trip to sea, she is also the author of a couple of books and lives on a house boat in the Netherlands.
Sunday 12th: Midnight and up for watch, it is cold but dry. Those waking the watch have completely forgotten to the rule to tell the oncoming watch what to expect to prepare them for what kit to arrive on deck with. Dry, wet, cold, warm etc.
We have a compass and a Satellite GPS repeater the latter something new to me. Whoever designed the colours of these things did so without me in mind. I am a touch colour blind and could not read the display with any accuracy and so asked to be taken off the helm. When I was in the Yankee owned Baltimore clipper Amistad in 2008 I had a similar problem but with a red display on the compass, a compass not at all conducive to a traditional sailing ship, a tiddly little yachting compass very out of place on that vessel, set to the left of the helm so could only be seen when steering from the Port side even when the helm should have been from the Starboard when it was the weather side. White is no problem, my car has a red speedo display on a silver background which. I cannot see at all with the lights on at dusk or in daylight.
During the watch when nothing was going on I was talking with Kate and came to understand that she had a distant relative in the Victoria Land expedition, this was the secondary expedition when Scott died on his Polar expedition. Had Scott lived the South Victoria Land expeditions survival would be better known, six men were put down on the ice expecting to find a hut that had been washed away. They built an ice cave and survived for seven months on penguin and seal meat and blubber both were being used for heating, cooking and eating. The reports when they were rescued, said they were all black from it.
The members of that party led by Victor Campbell were: Levick surgeon and zoologist his papers and log from that expedition and the Gallipoli later campaign were auctioned some several years ago. Abbot AB was the carpenter and a fine singer. Browning AB was the Acetylene gas man. Dickason AB was cook, and baker and Priestley geologist. Abbot had resigned his commission as petty officer RN to join the expedition; he was one of 8000 who applied to join in the adventure.
By breakfast we were steering 050 in a freshening wind and the main stays'l had been taken in. For lunch we had a cold Spanish soup with ice for some reason I did not take to that but the Potato casing which held molten cheese was pretty impressive. Leslie Ritter who was not standing watches came up on deck wobbling she some time earlier had a nasty fall. Leslie needed a smoke. I sat and talked with her, she told me how she had been with Tiger in the van driving through central London when he stopped it and got out rushing into a building that was being demolished, excitedly he came back and told her he had bought a bank. Tiger had bought for something like a tenner a whole bunch of board room panelling provided he got it out before Monday when the building was to come down. Leslie, Rodney and Tiger spent the weekend stripping everything they could. That panelling is still in the Eye today. Tiger had told us during a talk how the girls including Leslie had gone off to a ship breakers at Sittingbourne and got locked in, when they got back to the gate with the Standard compass binnacle, complete with the iron balls they had to struggle over the gate with it and then get it back to the Eye on their bicycles. A day later they were back at the breakers where they were asked did you find anything, 'yes', 'was there any iron on it', 'yes', give us £10.00. That too is still aboard ship on the monkey poop protected by a nicely made all encompassing cover. Many parts were obtained in similar ways.
Oh Leslie came on deck because she needed a smoke!
The yards are squared to cope with wind shift; it is pretty squally around us, presently the jibs are dropped the yards are braced; it is now wet but easy sailing. My oil skins are leaking, the jacket is ok but my Goretex trousers that I have had since Cape Horn nearly twenty years ago need replacement, do they still make this stuff I wonder, could I get a refund? As usual when it gets wet most leave the deck to be in the dry, wimps. We are off the Dutch coast past Terschelling Island heading into the channel that leads to the Elbe and Kiel Kanal. The dread Iron tops'l is fired up; we are in a mirror flat sea so flat you could almost walk on it. I could not take the Roti a sort of Curry for dinner so grabbed a banana and went below. I was called back later as cookie had been told of my dislike of curry by Terrie lovely girl Jac did pie and mash for me very nice of her.
Monday 13th: Our midnight watch is the girls watch Nora, Laura, Alida, Kate had been at the helm sometime, Tiger had been watching carefully as the girls ran up and down the deck looking at the lights through the bins. I thought they were looking out for a buoy but no! rather too late they had seen the yacht crossing our bows, Nora takes the helm rather roughly and spins it round to Starboard. We cleared that yacht by a couple of hundred feet only. Then passed the Buoy close enough to see it was green. At breakfast the fore and main courses are taken in the spanker was not set on the trip Tiger said they rarely set it. The knock stays'l is also taken in and furled. After another bacon and egg breakfast time to sleep in go the ear plugs to try drowning out the motor. I am in cabin ten just behind the engine room bulkhead. The wind is on the nose. Back on deck Terri has turn while sitting by the mainmast fife-rail. Peter and I tuck her up to sleep it off she does look lovely and peaceful. I go aft to let the skipper know, Peter sits with Terri until she wakes a half hour later. Terri will not let anything put her off travelling and sailing, she lives with this condition daily; she is not silly and would not risk going aloft or anything like that.
Stephen had noted that the saloon tables had a slope; they had been replaced in reverse to the way they should have been during the refit. Stephen said Tiger knew he just looked and smiled when it was mentioned. Stephen said Tiger has not told the crew! Well into the run to the Elbe now there are many wind farms about later in the distance we see the Danish one it is currently the world's largest and provides 80% of the Danes electric power. Continentals do not seem as exercised as the English about wind power and just accept it has to be. The tide is strongly running out against us now. I have noticed that on the Eye now the rule is to use locking hitches when coiling down to pins, something I had always been taught not to do, there are those who are both for and against their use. I am against.
We arrive at the entrance to Kiel Kanal where we pass through the lock and moor up at quayside. We make a night passage through the Kanal, we were stopped from sailing until after 2100 hours which curiously is classed as a daylight sailing in the Kanal environs. We had a starter at dinner tonight snail's stuffed prunes and celery with a dip. Outside it is very dark and looks like rain, we were not disappointed in that we had heavy showers during the night watch. More talk of where bits came from for the ship refit, the teak in the deckhouse came from a dance floor and the gimbled lamps were Italian.
Tuesday 14th June: Guess who has a birthday yes. I come up on watch at midnight to be wished happy birthday for the first time this day by Julius our skipper. Yes 65 I say now, I get something back from the state! We exited the Kiel Kanal after breakfast and set our course for Marstal a Danish island where they used to build schooners and still rebuild the same. Buy now we had twice tried to phone Pat in England with no luck and I had, had happy birthday sung to me in Spanish, Dutch and English and Welsh. A handful of cards were passed and pinned to the saloon wall after a boiled egg breakfast soldiers and all Marmite soldiers at that. In the early hours as dawn broke in the Kanal we saw an old Cunarder Countess now named Ocean Countess transiting it brought a smile to Stan's face you should have seen it. Stan is an authority on the Cunard shipping line and lectures on ocean liners it gives him scope for a lot of travel at sea in the sort of luxury we do not get when sticks and string sailing. We are sailing easy when morning tea is called, Scones cream and jam in the saloon. Peter sings a C Fox Smith poem 'Robin Adair' about the old time sailing clippers set to a tune by Bob Roberts in the 1930's the old and late skipper owner of the barge Cambria, now refitted for sail without an engine; she is at Faversham where the Eye of the Wind was fitted out by Tiger. I follow up with another of hers 'Ice said the Bosun' to a tune by Bob Zentz and American.
We are sailing under all squares with the Cape Horn flag that flew off Cape Horn at our crosstrees one more time. At change of watch I am given helm what a day. Tiger comes up alongside me and says of the day. "Someone must have sold their soul to Davy Jones for this day? Be grateful Chris" Course is by the wind.
At Marstal a tiny little harbour we go alongside and moor up departing for a look at the museum which is fantastic for such a small place could easily spend a couple of days there, and at the shipyard where a 60 foot schooner Boavista is being rebuilt. I noted a photograph on the wall of the 4 mast schooner Caroline lost up in Newfoundland as late as 1968 when cod fishing.
Half way through dinner a yacht comes into the Harbour. I just had to go out to take a picture before she got alongside she is the Amphitrite which I had only seen photographs of now owned by a German sailing club in Bremen. In days of long ago in the 1950`s Colonel Charter a Cape Horner in the Glenogil had her moored in Salcombe as his house boat, his Daughter Bydie grew up aboard this former gentleman's yacht built of teak in 1887 by Camper & Nicholson 100.2' x 19.4' x 12.3' 161 tons Thames measure.
In the LR for 1938 she was owned by the Earl of Arran, she was then described as an auxiliary sloop. She is now rigged as a three masted schooner. I was given a guided tour of her below decks during the evening with a beer in hand and another happy birthday ringing in my ears this time in German. Amphitrite's engine room looks in the original place she still sports twin props and has so many tiny spaces to put sailors and retains the rather fancy spiral staircase that leads below lots and lots of teak to keep varnished outside. All the upkeep is done by club members skilled and enthusiastic. The schooner has berths for 27 so. The club engages the services of a professional skipper by the season. So I was told by the present cook a German policeman. Before I left there was a sing song with the cook and the Dutchman, more beer along with Shanties and rum. Yes I am very grateful for this day, very grateful.
Wednesday 15th: Breakfast then, the floor is up in the saloon, rods are being put down the shower in cabin ten. I had been unable to take a proper shower all trip as it kept backing up, shades of Cape Horn where I washed up on deck as the old timers might have done. Later that day we berthed alongside outside the Kiel Kanal and left for town. With Ina who had come to meet us and be our guide.
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