The future for Tall Ships

We, that is the old folk like me, have seen the demise of the angels of the seas in the name of speed (or profit if you prefer) and now we are coming full circle due to the abuse of that very decision. Not only are we running out of fuel resources but we are also destroying the planet by polluting our precious atmosphere. We should have seen this coming when we still had some control (or consciousness). I learned from an old man in Africa, “We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we have borrowed it from our children.”

cruise ship with sails sailing under a blue sky
Photo by gerard martinez on

Is this back to the future? In this case, a Cruising liner using sail as an alternative or supplement to the diesel engines.

Various attempts to add sail as an auxiliary propulsion system; in the first two pictures these are rotating sails, and the final picture is an experimental craft that mechanically rotates and adjusts the mast, booms and sails to suit the relevant conditions and skipper’s requirements.

but can anything compete with this?
Trying –Club Med cruise ship

There are a good many of these types of mixed propulsion ships, mainly operating in the leisure industry, but commerce is starting to investigate the benefits of sail v’s fossil fuel on cost per tonne transported.

Experimental circular sails (not really ready for the America’s Cup yet).

Photo courtesy Washington Post

Viking Polaris on an Antarctic Cruise December 2022 was struck by a rogue wave killing one passenger and injuring 5 others. Even the biggest are not immune to the raw power of water.

French Ironclad ‘Redoubtable’ 1875

An interesting approach to modern sailing. The 88m superyacht Maltese Falcon.

Wreck” of the ‘Hugo Boss’ found drifting in the southern ocean after 9 years lost! -still sailing.

The Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race is one of the toughest races in the world and generally attracts around 100 entries. The 69th race in 2013 was a unique experience for the 94 entrants, of which only 84 completed the course due to a “weather bomb” unexpectedly striking the fleet in the Bass Straight. As the fleet left Sydney Habour the organisers issued a late weather warning to expect 60-knot winds and 12-meter swells. For many it raised the specter of 1998 when six sailors lost their lives and 55 sailors had to be rescued from their boats or the water, 5 boats sank and 7 were lost, the worst disaster in the race’s long and proud history. Of the 115 entrants, only 44 completed the course.

The bigger the wave, the more precisely you must hit it head on.

The 100m superyacht Phoenesia.
90 meter Dragonship.
Bigger, better, faster and many, many more $$$$$, also environmentally friendly with solar sails.
110-meter incognito using solar-powered sails.
This is the last photograph of “Big boys toys”, leaving the plush, posh and downright ugly to get back to real sailing.

Maltese Falcon under full sail and at speed. My only comment, “is it really sailing?”

Gypsy Moth – Single-handed round the world non-stop by an extremely courageous girl, Jessica Watson 1993 aged 16.

Having achieved this remarkable adventure, including 7 knockdowns and 210 days at sea alone, she then set her sights on the Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race. After a few practice runs, crewing for others, she Skippered a youth crew to second place in their Division and was awarded the Jane Tate Trophy for the first female skipper. Named ‘Young Australian of the year’ in 2011 she also received the ‘Order of Australia Medal’. Having been called a hero by the then Prime Minister of Australia, she retorted, “I don’t consider myself a hero, just an ordinary person who had a dream, worked hard at it and proved that anything is really possible”.

Lighthouses around the world –

Spectacular but essential light – Fastnet Rock.
New England lighthouse.
Portland Head shinning on bringing sailors safely home.
A welcoming sight as nightfalls and we are within striking distance of the turn about for home.
Fastnet Rock lighthouse, the turning point of the ‘Fastnet Ocean Race’
Beautiful shot by Night Stalker Photography

It is hard to imagine that less than a hundred years ago all these lights were maintained by a crew of two. All automated now of course, except a few lights on the mainland. Every light has its own individual code so it can be identified on charts.

Round the “Rock” was my first experience of ocean racing as cabin boy on Arthur Slater’s Prospect of Whitby. That was before the bug really got him and he had a specifically designed racing yacht called Prospect of Whitby 1 for the Sydney to Hobart race. He kept his 60-foot ketch, renamed her Prospect of Whitby II, retained the skipper, engineer and me so we got to sail her quite a bit and once a year, take her to Tenerife or the Med where the boat and crew kept her and I was flown home all expenses paid until come autumn and it was time to fly back and help bring her home. Quite an honour for a 14 year old and an incredible experience I will never forget, especially RoW in the Bay of Biscay. It was a cold fog, no wind and we were motoring at about 5 knots in the dark, damp mist when I heard the thump, thump, thump of a big diesel engine getting closer. I made sure the radar reflector was up and all navigation lights were on. Our radar showed me a large blob moving quite quickly directly astern and catching us fast. He will see us soon, I told myself. The thumps got louder and I began to dither, what to do? I gave three long blasts on the fog horn and fired up the main searchlight. The engineer’s head appeared out of the hatch first, “What’s up son?” Before I could answer, the skipper shot out of the hatch, pushed me away from the wheel, turned hard to port and wound up the throttle to max and yelled “hold on”. Not a minute later this great black wall of a fully laden oil tanker making about 12 knots passed us with less than 50 meters to spare. The bow wave pushed us further away and as the bridge of the tanker came into view we could clearly see there was no one on watch. Right of way – power gives way to sail in all circumstances. Roy, the skipper radioed the incident and gave the details to Maritime monitoring. I got a pat on the back and my very first tot of rum to stop me from shaking.

Beautiful shot of Scarborough from the air. Including lighthouse and yacht club.

Photographs of Scarborough by Barbara

The Needles Lighthouse

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