Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ships of the Ages

Today I visited the Barry Tall Ship Festival and the ships weren't the only thing ageing.  Today is also my 30th Birthday and I was hoping to get in my boat.  There were four ships in all here today along with a funfair and all the usual goings on.
The fist ship we visited was The Kathleen and May.  Built in 1900 she is the only wooden triple masted sailing schooner still in existence.  Launched in Chester in April 1900 she was named after the captains two daughters Lizzie May.  She carried various cargoes from Oban to the Channel Islands and London to Ireland.  She was purchased in 1908 and re-named Kathleen May after the new owners two daughters.   She then became part of a fleet of coal ships trading between the Bristol Channel and Youghal.  She continued in the coal trade until 1961 and is now equipped with an ex-lifeboat 400hp engine.
 The ship opposite (above) is the Stavros S Niarchose, which I will come to later.
Next we boarded The Ruth.  Built in 1914 as a Baltic trading ship, trading until 1964.  She was then restored in Denmark and began a new life as a sailing schooner.  In 1984 she was burnt when an oil stove caught the wooden life raft alight.  Upon a new restoration she was then fitted with cabins, which are used today for paying guests.  Now she can be seen working out of Cornwall as a family run charter. 
Under the watchful eye of some mean looking armed crew we boarded the HMS Tyne.  Along with sister ships Mersey and Severn, HMS Tyne forms the backbone of the Fishery Protection Squadron, the oldest Squadron in the Royal Navy, which patrol English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters, enforcing EU and UK legislation designed to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks for the future. HMS Tyne spends 320 days at sea each year, whatever the weather, policing over 80,000 square miles of sea, up to 200 miles off the coast of the UK.
 I think this was Connor's favorite ship!
While the kids were busy stuffing their faces with candyfloss and going mad on a soft play pirate ship I escaped for a guided tour of the Stavros S Niarchos. 
 Although the masts look like they are made of wood the whole boat is actually made of metal.
Completed in January 2000 she was originally obtained half completed from Germany by the Tall Ships Youth Trust.  The semi completed hulls were transported to Devon where the ship was modified and fitted out for it's current requirements.  In good conditions it can maintain a speed of 13 knots under sail.  She normally sails under a crew of up to 67 - 6 permanents paid crew, 11-13 voluntary crew and up to 48 voyage (paying) crew.  I managed to pick up a brochure for their holidays.
I had to get some pictures from the water of this rare occurrence but I am pretty certain you are probably not allowed to launch off the side of the dock, especially with a navy ship in dock.
I sat around on the dock side late in the evening umming arhhhing about getting on the water.  There were a few grey ribs circling the docks and armed officers on board, I thought it's probably not worth getting arrested or shot at for getting too close.  Just as I had made my mind up a tug came into the dock and escorted the HMS Tyne out of the docks.    
The tall ships were going to stay in dock a little longer as a storm was coming in and the wind was already picking up.  I donned my new Palm Kaikouara tour BA, a birthday present off my lovely wife and pushed my boat through over the railings.  A slippery climb and I was in the water.
The ships looked huge from the water, really need another boat for scale but Taran was down with lazygititis.

This shot was taken exactly two years ago give or take a couple of days on my first ever paddle with the Stavros again on the dock side.  Not quite the same sunny evening conditions as last time.
The Kathleen and May and Stavros.  (left to right)

The Ruth, Kathleen and May and Stavros.
Only a short birthday paddle but a great day.  I love tall ships and before my next decade is out would like to get aboard one for a trip.  My next paddle will probably be from the Isle of Skye, until then it'll be work work work... 


stoney (Martyn) said...

Happy Birthday dude, nice new BA eh? Do a review on it when you've put it through its paces.

Taran Tyla said...

Some HARDCORE! paddling there Stu ;D

Stuart said...

Thanks Mart. Will do, hopefully get some wear out of it this week in Skye.

Sorry Taran maybe I should have seal launched off the dock side. :)

Dr Blug said...

Happy Birthday Stuart
If you have the chance to get to Staffin on Skye theres a great paddle from the slipway going south to see the waterfall at Kilt Rock.Take care