Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Medway Queen

It was while she was on this berth she was continually being pumped out, but strangely so I have heard, somebody switched off the pumps so inevitably she sank sabotage was suspected  but never proved.

The Medway Queen in her hayday.

This was the Medway Queen as I remember her in the fifties being a Whitstable Native and a Man of Kent, you could in fact purchase what we called a "Round Robin" this was a combined Bus, Boat and Rail Ticket, the bus from Whitstable to Herne Bay, board the Medway Queen from the end of Herne Bay Pier, and then set sail for Southend, drop off the day trippers and then on to Clacton, back to Southend, then on to Herne Bay, she then made the trip into the Thames Estuary turning to port and entering the Medway whereby she berthed at Strood Pier for the night, we would alight and walk a short distance to Strood Station and caught the train back to Whitstable, it was a grand day out, and is probably the grounding for my love of the water and my lifelong sailing days.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Medway Queen in a sorry state

There is good news she is now in Chatham Dockyard and is being seriously renovated. she is seen here in Damhead Creek, Kingsnorth. 

The Medway Queen

In this picture she is a night club on the Isle of Wight
Medway Queen is the last estuary pleasure paddle steamer in the UK. Built in 1924 on the Clyde she saw service on the waters of the Thames and Medway in her early years and then on active service with the Royal Navy as a minesweeper in the English Channel. During her war years she became famous for her record number of crossings to the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 rescuing 7000 men in seven trips. She returned back to pleasure steaming on the Thames and Medway after the war. Since being decommissioned in 1963 the Medway Queen has had a chequered life. Firstly threatened by the scrap yard before spending her days as a nightclub on the Isle of Wight. She was saved again and returned to the River Medway. After several incidents of sinking the Medway Queen is now being restored for future generations by the Medway Queen Preservation Society, Dame Vera Lynn and Sir Michael Jagger among others are patrons.
Regarding the Dunkirk Little Ships several our own Thames and Medway barges also made this trip and on one documented occasion a barge ran aground on a falling tide and was abandoned, intact the crew making alternative passage back to good old blighty, the barge was commandeered by an officer who mustered an amateur crew along with whoever could scramble aboard, and managed to sail back to safety.  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

John Cox Stevens.

Founder of the New York Yacht Club 1844,and whose club was the invoved with the 1851 acceptance of the invite to compete for the 100 guinea cup which they won with the Schooner "America" ( Please see earlier post. He was of course the first Commodore, the club is still in great shape in these modern times today, although I shudder to guess at the cost of membership today.

From Fisherfolk, Royal Yacht,to Americas Cup .

A Tale of Three Whitstable the author of this blog

Long has it been a tradition for seaman to congregate in pubs and around harbours and mull over old times relate sea tales and Whitstable, was no exception, seafarers are a close knit breed and can be a little aloof, to folk who are not involved with their world, they would work long tiring hours plying their trade to eek out a meager living but that did not dampen spirits as all would have a cheery word if they knew you.

As a child the harbour was my everything and I knew most of the people who derived a living in whatever way from that area, I would hang about within earshot and listen to the tales and yarns, spun by the fisher folk it was best when the weather was blowing one of those. and going to sea not possible, some would even go to the “dole office” and sign on for a day or so until the weather improved, but going back to the 19th and early 20th century there was no helping hand when you had no income, and during the Oyster close season there were other jobs you could turn your hand to, some of the company men were still employed running as far afield as Holland transporting brood, and in 1919 skipper Stroud was demobbed, and joined the Ham Company and skippered Whitstable’s largest smack the “Seasalter” F322 Built 1870, LOA 51.8ft 14ft Beam, Hold Depth 7.8ft she was then used mainly for brood transportation ( young Oysters) from Essex with the occasional trip to the continent, prior, to 1900 she made regular trips to Falmouth bringing brood back from the Ham Companies owned beds in that area.Before the Great War oyster drudging and fishing in general enjoyed its heyday nothing was known of modern fish finding and weather forecasting instruments and was solely reliant on experience and the weather glass (barometer). I went to sea in the late 50’s , and was well aware of what would be expected of a skippers mate having gone to sea as a teenager with Ollie Wiseman (who came to Whitstable with Alf Leggett, ) Ogie Laker, and Sid Stroud (Smoker) in his Whelk Boat, I did this as often as I could .
Sid Stroud was a fisherman I preferred the company of. I knew him in my childhood through to my middle twenties, growing up with his son David, we eventually worked on the fishing boats together. There were two prominent fishing or drudging families in Whitstable the Stroud’s and Rowden’s there were others but that was more father and son, but it is the Stroud’s, principally, that this article will relate to, but another family will be mentioned later in the story.Sidney Stroud, “Smoker” as I shall hereonin call him was a great seaman as were all of his family, and arguably the best sailors to come from one family, seven brothers in all, and all made a living from the sea, I worked with Smoker on seawall reparations for Whitstable Urban District Council in 1959 this could only be carried out in the winter, as the council did not want to inconvenience the public during the summer season, over a period of time I knew him quite well, he would talk of his father Earnest having owned a pub in Whitstable “The Royal Native” in Harbour Street, he also had a hand in other money yielding projects dealing in shellfish and smoked fish he had his own smoke room and copper for cooking shrimps and shellfish, Smoker, I remember saying that’s , where I got my nickname going round the boatyards and fetching back sacks of oak shavings and then lighting the smokehouse fire, it was one of my allotted chores, but like to think that this name derived from the fact that he always smoked a pipe and that he fueled it with hand rolling tobacco “Hearts of Oak” which tended to smoke more than pipe tobacco, and when in deep thought would puff more regularly and would soon fill a bar with a haze.

I would often see Smoker in the Smack public house, he particularly liked that watering Hole and this particular evening I decided to make this my first port of call, it was a Friday, and payday. Smoker was in his usual place looked, as you do, when the latch noise signals an entrance, he nodded a greeting, we had both had a very cold winters day on the sea wall, at one time blowing a northerly blizzard, I took my drink over to join him, passed the time with small chat, I spoke of being a bit unhappy with my life and thought a six week course at the sea school in Gravesend, and then into the Merchant Navy would solve my demise, it was at that moment he came to life with agreement at my suggestion, and went on to talk of his teen years, saying that he had reached that particular crossroad in his life, and went on to relate this amazing life he had led at the age roughly I was at that moment, his Father and six brothers were all involved with the sea and were proficient in all aspects of fishing and drudging including five fingering (drudging starfish) for fertilizer in the close season, and stoning (Drudging for Mussels) he went on to say he was fed up and was off to seek his fortune, he certainly found it, by joining King George the V’s Sailing Yacht “Britannia” K1 at the age of nineteen, which was a fabulous 40 Metre Class Yacht, , these craft were the epitome of sheer opulence.

Smoker had established his career and stayed full time for a number of years and was made up to Boatswain commonly Bosun ( this post today on a modern yacht, sail or motor can command £5000+ a month salary) It should be mentioned that a racing yacht of the size of “Britannia” could not have operated without a bo’sun, Smoker said that it was very informal aboard, and that the King would often consult with him regarding the boat, and race tactics so that there were no surprises during the course of a race, Smoker was senior or leading deckhand versed and responsible for running rigging, sails, warps and sheets , anchorage, stores, and indeed anything that effected the smooth running of a racing vessel conveying orders to the crew via the captain or officer and of readying the ship for sea, orders could be piped and were on some yachts, with a bosuns whistle which also doubled as a badge of rank hung around the neck and could be heard above howling winds and flapping sails, though not in Britannia’s case the pipe was considered by this time to be obsolete for that task, so verbal orders only. And that is how the old superstition came about, no seaman whistles at sea, it was said it summoned up the wind, the simple explanation was of course it could confuse the crew as to what duty to perform and the result could have been calamitous. I remember asking Smoker about the King and his attitude towards the crew he remarked that the King was a gentleman, in fact he said the King remarked once we are all different sized well oiled cogs that keep my yacht sailing at optimum speed and safety and that is why I employ this crew, praise indeed. Off duty all was very informal, Smoker also commented, that perhaps this bonding was based on the fact that being in the same boat, life’s value is the same as the next man regardless of rank or class.

All of the fabulous J class would attend the regatta’s along the south coast, Weymouth, Poole, Falmouth Southhampton and sometimes the east coast they would compete against each other, “Britannia” always attended but could not compete, as her class was Forty Metre so to rectify this King George had his Yacht modified to conform with J Class specifications.Smoker went on to say that the two most memorable sights to stir the salt water in the veins were, a Spritsail Barge flying full canvas in a stiff breeze, and close hauled, the other is to see a J class, cutter rigged, flying everything, again close hauled, or goose winged (running before the wind), he retorted, that has to be the most beautiful sight a sailor can cast eyes upon, I think he was reminiscing “Britannia”, which alas, when King George V passed away his beloved yacht was towed out to sea by the Navy at his request and scuttled in such a way as to leave no trace, this was on the south side of the Needles, Isle of Wight. In 1936. It was common knowledge that he could not bear the thought of anyone else owning her.

Smoker’s next job found him aboard “Shamrock V” J 3, built in Gosport in 1929 her specifications were 119 ft 1in LOA, 81ft 1in LWL, Draught 14ft 9ins with a further drop keel, and a sail area of 7,550 sq ft her mast costing more than the hull itself she also had an 80 ton lead keel, so, complete with her new innovative new look rigging “Bermudan” as opposed to “Gaff “ a much more dapper and efficient sail plan and easier to handle, she was built to race for the Americas Cup by Sir Thomas Lipton of food and tea fame. Smoker enlisted as Bosun and her crew numbered twenty two and among them was his brother Skipper Stroud and another Whitstable oyster and fisherman Harry Harman. Smokers elder brother, a very experienced seaman, had joined the Merchant Navy, in the twenties and was to sail all over the world. It is here the story gets more interesting .Firstly I will give a brief history of the Americas Cup, The J Class has its roots in the oldest sporting race in the world, The America's Cup, and still challenged for today established in the early 1800’s. This International Event was born from an annual race around the Isle of Wight, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron and called the '100 Guinea Cup' or as some liked to call it ”The Queens Cup” In 1851, an overseas yacht was allowed to participate for the first time. as part of the Royal Exposition of 1851. In response, a syndicate of six business men, led by John Cox Stephens, spent $30,000 to build a new racing schooner, “America” after sailing to France to be repainted and outfitted with racing sails, she was entered in the 58-mile clockwise race around the Isle of Wight. Sailing against 17 other English super yachts, “America” finished 18 minutes before her closest competitor. Queen Victoria was informed of the outcome and enquired as to which vessel was second. This question resulted in the famous response, "Your Majesty, there is no second."Several existing large British yachts, ‘Astra’, ‘Candida’, ‘White Heather II’ and ‘Britannia’, were converted to comply with J Class ruling and raced alongside the J's. Smoker went on to say that the King would not have a J on his sail to denote the yachts class as he was a K, being King, so his sail number finally read K1, the Royal Yacht Squadron allowed this. Of the true J-Class, only ten were ever built (4 in the UK and 6 in USA) and these raced together for just seven seasons from 1929 to 1937. With the loss of the King in 1936, 1937 saw a new racing season but it was all a bit half hearted and there were ominous rumblings in Europe, and the Wall Street crash all contributed to the decline, racing on the scale it had been was destined to become a treasured memory.The crew had joined “Shamrock V” J3 at the beginning of the season and it would be decided by the outcome of the regatta races along the south coast which boat should represent us, and to bring back the trophy lost seventy nine years earlier, the crew were chosen on sea skills and three crew from Looe in Cornwall were chosen, A.J.Pengelly, Joe Uglow, and Jack Sargent , A.J.Pengelly had previously sailed on “Velsheda” and another J Class, so was well experienced. They did the regatta tour, Smoker as I remember had mentioned the Cornishmen and said that they were a tough bunch, and used to seas being less kind than that of the North Kent Oyster drudgers and flatsmen. Shamrock exceeded expectations racing at the 1930 Regatta’s, and at the end had the most number of flags. The King in his “Brittania “ giving “Shamrock V” the most tactical problems which she surmounted and earned the right to challenge for the cup. Smoker went on to say after competing successfully.“Shamrock V” sailed to Gosport where she readied herself for the journey across the Atlantic to Newport. Rhode Island, USA.Smoker related It was July 1930, the off day, we were given a send off befitting the task that was entrusted to us, apart from the Atlantic crossing which was daunting enough, entering waters that were unknown to all of us, , we were all a little apprehensive the morrow saw us making good headway nose to wind and blowing a stiff southwesterly we were forced to reef our mainsail area to one third, the wind gained strength to the point of being uncomfortable the crests between waves were shorter than our length which caused, on about every third crest our bow would dig into the wall of water, causing a lot of water over the bow, then the bow would rise quickly and the stern would be under, the safest place was amidships with safety lines on, A.J.Pengelly said that this boat was built for speed and not rough weather, he was also quoted as saying he would sooner have made the crossing in his own boat “Our Daddy” (still afloat today) although less than half the length was built to withstand these conditions. The crew stood watch at four hours on and four hours off, Smoker said that “Shamrock V” had taken a pounding, she had sprung a plank and was leaking badly, Smoker organized running repairs which were a temporary measure and made for the Azores to effect proper repairs. 48 hours later saw us again on our way but the wind was still south westerly and was to remain that way for the duration, Smoker said that sleep was a luxury, all the crew were wet through and there was not a dry place on the boat, changes of clothing were wet through and the cooks tried to muster food for the crew but alas it was mostly sandwiches for the duration, in all the crossing took twenty six days, and Smoker said dryly, that was twenty six days of hell. Like all trials when they arrived at Rhode Island there were boats of all shapes and sizes coming out to meet them, fire tugs with all hoses fired up escorting them in, the hooters and sirens were deafening and as they neared the quayside the people lined the quay in hundreds cheering and whistling, waving flags, quite a lot of “Jacks”, blowing trumpets and whatever else could make a noise, as the tugs nudged her gently into her berth, she had no engines, the hellish trip over faded into obscurity, we were left bathing in friendly welcoming sounds which made you feel really special.A great welcoming ceremony was held at the yacht Club where the food suddenly improved, Smoker remembered making a bit of a grunter of himself but he wasn’t alone and some even had the luxury of a hangover he recalls. The following day saw the yacht making ready for her challenge, and it was Smokers job to check and double check sails, warps, halyards, standing rigging, rudder mechanism , sheets, cleats, winches, blocks, all this done she was now ready to compete. The following day was spent fine tuning, studying charts, the race course, and discussing race tactics, which may have to be revised should the weather differ from the forecast, it was a bit hit and miss in those days.The race day came and moorings were slipped, “Shamrock V” and “Enterprise” which was the American entry, were towed out to open water and the start line, with a great many small craft following, eager to see these majestic giants do battle for yachting’s most coveted and prestigous prize, the Americas Cup, as it was now known. Over the next few days the races took place Smoker did not go into detail only that the weather was perfect for sailing but at the end of the agreed number of races to decide ownership of the cup “Shamrock V” had lost four out of four races they had a real trouncing, the night following final race a farewell dinner was held in honour of the challengers at the “Hotel Belvedere, Rhode Island” and no great thing was made of America successfully defending the cup it was as though it was an inevitability, but Smoker remarked that “Enterprise” could point to wind a lot closer than Shamrock, A. J. Pengelly also made reference to this, and of the thirty crew, aboard “Enterprise” only ten were on deck at any one time, the rest were engaged below working the winches even trimming sails was done below decks, Enterprise was also made of Duralumin, Aluminium to us, including the frame , this would have made her about one third lighter than Shamrock none of the rules on class build were compromised and we were beaten fair and square. I do not know much about the return journey only that Gosport was the first port of call and a refit ready for the following season. I believe that Smoker was paid off and rejoined the Kings yacht Britannia which was in 1931 converted to a cruising yacht and fitted out to a very high standard so as to impress foreign dignitaries and also the ladies, as it was now becoming fashionable for ladies to go aboard what has always been a man’s domain and where functionality was the only concern, women, at least the more adventurous had their own yachts built and became formidable adversaries when racing, Tracy Edwards is just an example of many other top notch skippers.It is gratifying to know that the J Class “Shamrock V”, “Velsheda”, and “Endeavour” are still sailing to this day having been rescued, and so the legend lives on, I must also add that having lost the trophy in 1851 the United Kingdom has never won it back, ever. Countries that have been successful are Australia, Once, New Zealand Twice, and lastly Switzerland, Once.I would like to dedicate this article to the memories of Smoker Stroud, Skipper Stroud, Harry Harman the three Whitstable men and Alfred (A.J.Pengelly) from Looe, Cornwall (Who wrote the book “Oh for a fishermans life in 1979”) and whose son Terry, T.J.Pengelly who is now senior hand of the family and keeper of family archives at seventy nine, whom I am in touch with, , he has kindly allowed reproduction of pictures for this article, also remembered are the other selfless fishermen who left families behind in the summer months when little or no fish were to be had, and join the large yachts and race the summer season regatta’s on the south coast, thus earning enough money to keep their families fed and the landlord from the door.I would like to say that all of my photographic, postcard, and firstday covers will be the property of the Whitstable Museum on my departure.

Regards and fair winds.

Dave Jordan

The Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta 1851, or how we lost the cup.

1851 Events.

This latest post gives an account of the actual race in 1851 as was published by a Hampshire newspaper this ties in nicely with the article I published previously of the attempt by us to win the cup back in 1930 entering the J-Class Shamrock V built by Camper and Nicholson for Sir Thomas Lipton.
Posted by Baggywrinkles at 17:25 0 comments

Royal Yacht Squadron RegattaVictory of the “America” 1851The race at Cowes on Friday, for the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup furnished our yachtsmen with an opportunity of realising as our trans-Atlantic brethren would say, what those same dwellers beyond the ocean can do afloat in competition with ourselves.

None doubted that the “AMERICA” was a very fast sailer, but her powers had not been measured by the test of an actual contest. Therefore when it became known that she was entered amongst the yachts to run for the cup on Friday, the most intense interest was manifested by all classes, from the highest to the humblest, who have thronged in such masses this season to the Isle of Wight; and even her Majesty and the Court felt the influence of the universal curiosity which was excited to see how the stranger, of whom such great things were said, should acquit herself on the occasion.

The race was, in fact, regarded as a trial heat from which some anticipation might be formed of the result of the great international contest, to which the owners of “America” have challenged the yachtsmen of England, and which Mr R. Stephenson, the eminent engineer, has accepted by backing his own schooner, the “TITANIA”, against the “AMERICA”.Among the visitors on Friday were many strangers, Frenchmen enroute to Havre, Germans in quiet wonderment at the excitement around them, and Americans already triumphing in the anticipated success of their countrymen.The cards containing the names and colours of the yachts described the course merely as being ”round the Isle of Wight” the printed programme stated that it was to be “round the Isle of Wight, inside Noman’s Buoy and Sandhead Buoy, and outside the Nab” The distinction gave rise, at the close of the race, to questioning the “America’s” right to the cup, as she did not sail outside the Nab Light; but this objection was not persisted in, and the Messrs Stevens were presented with the cup.

The following yachts were entered. They were moored in a double line. No time allowed for tonnage:-
YACHT......... TONS......... OWNER
Beatrice, Schooner 161 Sir W.P.Carew
Volante, Cutter 48 Mr J.L.Craigie
Arrow, Cutter 84 Mr t. Chamberlayne
Wyvern. Schooner 205
Duke of MarlboroughIone, Scooner 75 Mr A. Hill
Constance, Schooner 218 Marquis of Conyham
Titania, Schooner 100 Mr R. Stevenson
Gypsy Queen, Schooner 160 Sir H. R.Hoghton
Alarm, Cutter 193 Mr J. Weld
Mona, Cutter 82 Lord A. Paget
America, Schooner 170 Mr J. B. Stevens & CoBrilliant 3Mast Schooner 392 Mr G. H. Ackers
Bacchante, Cutter 80 Mr B. H. Jones
Freak, Cutter 60 Mr W. Curling
Stella, Cutter 65 Mr R. Frankland
Eclipse, Cutter 50 Mr H. S.Fearon
Fernande, Schooner 127 Major Martin
Aurora, Cutter 84 Mr T.Le Merchant

At 9.55 the preparatory gun was fired from the Club-House battery and the yachts were soon sheeted from deck to topmast with clouds of canvas, huge gaff topsails and balloon jibs being greatly in vogue, and the “AMERICA evincing her disposition to take advantage of her new jib by hoisting it with all alacrity, The whole flotilla not in the race were already in motion, many of them stretching down towards Osborne and Rhyde to get good start of the clippers. Of the list above given the TITANIA and the STELLA did not start, and the FERNANDE did not take her station( the latter was twice winner in 1850, and once this year; the Stella won once last year) Thus only fifteen started, of which seven were schooners, including the “BRILLIANT” (three masted schooner) and eight were cutters.

At 10 o’clock the signal gun for sailing was fired, and before the smoke had well cleared away the whole of the beautiful fleet were under weigh, moving steadily east with the tide and a gentle breeze. The start was effected splendidly, the yachts breaking away like a field of race horses; the only laggard was the America, which did not move for a second or so after the others, Steamers, shore Boats, and Yachts of all sizes buzzed along each side of the course, and spread away for miles over the rippling sea, a sight such as the Adriatic never beheld in all the pride of Venice; such, beaten though we are ,as no other country in the world could exhibit; while it is confessed that anything like it was never seen, even here, in the annals of yachting. Soon after they started a steamer went off from the roads, with the members of the sailing committee, Sir B. Graham Bart ,Commodore, Royal Yacht Squadron, and the following gentlemen:-Lord Exmouth, Captain Lyon, Mr A. Fontaine ,Captain Ponsonby, Captain Corry, Messrs Harvey, Leslie, Greg, and Reynolds. The American Minister, Mr Abbot Lawrence, and his son Col Lawrence ( attaché) to the American legation, arrived too late for the sailing of America, but were accommodated on board the steamer, and went round the island in her; the several steamers, chartered by private gentlemen or for excursion trips, also accompanied the match.The GIPSY QUEEN, with all her canvass set, and in the strength of the tide, took the lead after starting, with the Beatrice next, and then with little difference in order, the VOLANTE, CONSTANCE, Arrow, and a flock of others. The AMERICA went easily for some time under mainsail (with a small gaff-topsail of a triangular shape, braced up to the truck of the short and slender stick which serves as her maintopmast), foresail, fore-staysail, and jib; while her opponents had every cloth set that the Club Regulations allow. She soon began to creep upon them, passing some of the cutters to windward. In a quarter of an hour she had left them all behind, except the CONSTANCE, BEATRICE, and GIPSY QUEEN which were well together, and went along smartly with the light breeze.

The yachts were timed off Noman’s Land Buoy, and the character of the race at this moment may be guessed from the result.Volante 11hrs 7mins 0secs Freak 11hrs 8mins 20secsAurora 11hrs 8mins 30secs Gypsy Queen 11hrs 8mins 45secs America 11hrs 9mins 0secs Beatrice 11hrs 9mins 15secs Alarm 11hrs 9mins 20secsArrow 11hrs 10mins 0secs Bacchante 11hrs 10mins 15secs The Other six were staggering about in the rear, and the WYVERN soon afterwards hauled her wind, and went back towards Cowes.The AMERICA speedily advanced to the front and got clear away from the rest, off Sandown Bay, the wind freshening, she carried away her jib- boom; but as she was well handled, the mishap produced no ill effect, and during a lull which came on in the breeze for some time subsequently, her competitors gained a trifling advantage, but did not approach her. Off Ventnor the AMERICA was more than a mile ahead of the AURORA, then the nearest of the racing squadron; and hearabouts the number of her competitors was lessened by three cutters, the VOLANTE having sprung her bowsprit, the ARROW having gone ashore and the ALARM having staid by the ARROW to assist in getting her off. But from the moment the America had rounded St. Catherine’s Point, with a moderate breeze at S.S.W., the chances of coming up with her again were over. The WILDFIRE which, though not in the match, kept up with the “Stranger” for some time, was soon shaken off, and of the vessels in the match, the AURORA was the last that kept her in sight, until, the weather thickening, even that small comfort was lost to her.

As AMERICA approached the Needles, the wind fell and a haze came on, not thick enough, however, to be very dangerous; and here she met and passed (saluting with her flag) the Victoria and Albert Royal Yacht, with her Majesty on board. Her Majesty waited for the AURORA and then returned to Osborne, passing the America again in the Solent. About six o’clock, the AURORA being some five or six miles astern, and the result of the race inevitable, the steamers that had accompanied the yachts bore away for Cowes, where they landed their passengers. The evening fell darkly, heavy clouds being piled along the northern shore of the strait; and the thousands who had lined the southern shore, from West Cowes long past the Castle, awaiting anxiously the appearance of the winner, and eagerly drinking in every rumour as to the progress of the match, were beginning to disperse, when the peculiar rig of the clipper was discerned through the gloom, and at 8h.34m o’clock (railway time, 8h. 37m., according to the secretary of the Royal Yacht Squadron) a gun from the flag-ship announced her arrival as the winner of the cup. The AURORA was announced as at 8h.58m.; the BACCHANTE at 9h. 30m,; and ECLIPSE at 9h.45m, the BRILLIANT at1h.20m,; (Saturday morning). No account of the rest.

On the evening after the race there was a very brilliant and effective display of fireworks by land and water along the Club-house esplanade, at which 6000 or 7000 persons were present. A reunion took place at the Club-house; and the occasion was taken of Mr. Abbot Lawrence’s presence to compliment him on the success of his countrymen. His Excellency acknowledged the kindness in suitable terms, and said that, though he said he could not be proud of the triumph of his fellow- citizens, he still felt it was but the children giving a lesson to the father.On Saturday evening the AMERICA was sailed from Cowes to Osborne, in consequence of the intimation that the Queen wished to inspect her. The Victoria and Albert also dropped down to Osborne. At a quarter to six, the Queen embarked in the state barge, accompanied by his Royal Highness Prince Albert and suite, and on nearing the America, the national colours of that vessel were dipped, out of respect to her Majesty, and raised again when her Majesty proceeded on board. Her Majesty made a close inspection of the AMERICA, attended by Commodore Stevens, Colonel Hamilton, and the officers of the yacht. The queen remained on board half an hour, and expressed great admiration of the general arrangements and character of this famous schooner. On her Majesty leaving, the American colours were again dipped, and her Majesty proceeded in the barge to Osborne, where she arrived at half past six o’clock.And so ended a fateful day for competitive sailing, the cup was taken back to America and to this day it has never taken a place at the Royal Yacht Squadrons headquarters, Cowes, we have tried many time to recover this prestigious trophy but alas it has always eluded us.

This is a true account of that days proceedings in August 1851 as was witnessed by a reporter of the Hampshire Chronicle and written in his own words, but little did he realise the long term impact the Victory of the AMERICA would have in the annals of Yacht racingThat day in August, 1851, the yacht America, representing the young New York Yacht Club, would go on to beat the best the British could offer and win the Royal Yacht Squadron's 100 Guinea Cup.This was more than simply a boat race however, as it symbolised a great victory for the new world over the old, a triumph that unseated Great Britain as the world's undisputed maritime power. The trophy would go to the young democracy of the United States and it would be well over 100 years before the Cup was taken from New York, the American's domination was so complete.Shortly after America won the 100 Guinea Cup in 1851, New York Yacht Club Commodore John Cox Stevens and the rest of his ownership syndicate sold the celebrated schooner to an Irishman and returned home to New York as heroes. They went on to donate the Cup to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be "a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations." Thus was born the America's Cup, named after the winning schooner America, as opposed to the country.The America's Cup is without a doubt the most difficult trophy in sport to win. In over 150 years since that first race off England, only three nations other than the United States have won what is often called the oldest trophy in international sport. For some perspective, consider that there had been nine contests for the America's Cup before the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.The America's Cup is a challenge-based competition where the previous winning Yacht Club makes the rules and hosts the event, often making it difficult for the challenging Club(s) to take the Cup home. Early in the history of the Cup, these obstacles were completely insurmountable and the Defender was never threatened. In fact, despite a couple of close calls, it would take 132-years for a foreign Challenger to beat the American Defender and win the Cup.

Written by Dave Jordan

Sunday, October 11, 2009

  • Please leave an acknowledgement of your visit to my site, a short comment would suffice. or even, dare I say become a follower.

TS Arethusa at Upnor.

This is a beautiful picture or Arethusa from my collection of postcards.

Arethusa Painting

This is a painting I took on as a commission some twenty years ago and depicts the TS Arethusa being towed out of the River Medway to be taken up the Thames to be dismasted readying her for her trip across the atlantic to New York where she was renovated and is on display.

The Arethusa's Ensign.

Arethusa Description

Rig: Four-masted barque
Material: Wood decks, rest steeel
Length: 377 ft.
Breadth: 47 ft.
Gross Tonnage: 3100
Net Tonnage: 2883
Depth: 26 ft. 3 in.
Main Mast Height: 170 ft.
Sail Area: 44,132 sq. ft.
Max Speed: 16.5 knots (19 mph)
Passenger Capacity: 32


Blue Ensign of Training Ship Arethusa.Lord Shaftesbury (7th Earl) founded the National Refuge for Homeless and Destitute Children known as Shaftesbury Homes, and in 1866 persuaded the Admiralty to lend him a frigate, Chichester, so that some destitute children might be trained for employment at sea. Chichester was moored at Greenhithe on the south bank of the lower Thames. Additional accommodation was needed, and in 1874 another frigate, Arethusa, was acquired and moored astern of Chichester.

The Admiralty are said to have issued a warrant in 1877 for both ships to fly a Blue Ensign though it is not clear whether it was for a plain or a defaced ensign, and if defaced, what badge was used. Arethusa was said, in 1927, to have flown a plain Blue Ensign and Union Jack as jack since 1874. The Captain Superintendent claimed that King's Regulations entitled him to do so as he was a retired naval officer in the Reserve, and his staff included reservists in excess of the minimum qualification. This was not correct as a warrant was required even if the qualifications for a Blue Ensign were met. Demand for merchant seamen fell as steam ships replaced sailing ships, and Chichester was returned to the Admiralty in 1889.An Admiralty warrant dated 31 December 1927 was issued for Arethusa to fly a Blue Ensign with TS ARETHUSA in white. As with Worcester, the style and position of the letters was not recorded, so the appearance of the ensign is supposition. By 1933 Arethusa had deteriorated beyond repair and was replaced by the ex-German nitrate carrier Peking, which was converted and moored on the River Medway at Upnor in Kent. The ship was renamed Arethusa and a new warrant issued on 18 July 1933 for the same ensign to be flown on the replacement ship. In 1940 the ship was requisitioned by the Admiralty and reverted to her old name Peking. After the war the ship was returned to the Shaftesbury Society and reverted to the name Arethusa. The school was closed in 1974 and the ship bought by an American consortium that converted her into a museum ship. She is, I understand still afloat at the South Street Seaport Museum, New York, with her original name Peking.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Uploaded 18-25am 08-10-09

Peaceful scene from the webcam of the Isle of Sheppey sailing club, date and time at the top of picture, here is the link then at the top of the page you will se web cams, three.
Give it a go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bluenose Queen of the Grandbanks

Picture about the 1930's but not sure, she has a daughter now "Bluenose 2, I think she was built in the sixties.

Canada's most famous sailing vessel " Bluenose "

Designed by William Roué and built by Smith and Rhuland, Bluenose was launched at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on March 26, 1921, as a racing ship and fishing vessel. This was in response to the defeat of the Nova Scotian Fishing Schooner Delawana by the Gloucester fishing schooner Esperanto in 1920. That race was sponsored by the Halifax Herald newspaper.
After a season fishing on the Grand Banks, Bluenose defeated Elsie (out of Gloucester, Massachusetts), returning the International Fishermen's Trophy to Nova Scotia. During the next 17 years of racing, no challenger, American or Canadian, could wrest the International Fishermen's Trophy from her. It is notable that she was no mere racing ship, but also a general fishing craft that was worked hard throughout her lifetime. She fished scallops and other kinds of sea-food, and at least once won competitions for largest catches of the season and similar awards.Fishing schooners became obsolete after World War II, and despite efforts to keep her in Nova Scotia, the undefeated Bluenose was sold to work as a freighter in the West Indies. She foundered on a Haitian reef on January 28, 1946.
Bluenose and her captain, Angus Walters, were inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, making her the first and only non-human CSHF inductee until 1960, when she was joined by Canadian Hydroplane Champion Miss Supertest III. That same year another honour was bestowed upon the famous sailing ship when a new Canadian National Railways passenger-vehicle ferry for the inaugural Yarmouth-Bar Harbor service was launched as the M/V Bluenose.

Home made stamps

Thought I would play around and produce my own stamps they are obviously not legal, just a bit of fun.
They depict yachts of the late 1800 early 1900's

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ships leaving the Medway

General ship movement on the Medway the tug has just let go of the vessel to its right and it can now go on its way without escort.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Editor's Note, KIETH D, with a correction to my info.

The USS Missouri was not "broken up." The battleship was decommissioned and donated to the non-profit USS Missouri Memorial Association, which cares for and operates the ship as the "Battleship Missouri Memorial" in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Its website is:, Emperor Hirohito did not sign the surrender document. Representatives of Japan's government and military did. You can find a list here:
Correction by KIETH D, but I do think that it is a shame that all the info and hard work I put into this site, the one and only comment to come from anywhere is a correction, and perhaps it should be remembered what the essence of blogging is all about, but I suppose that is the way of the world today, small wonder its in the state it is.