The Fryderyk Chopin – Tall Ship in Distress

29 10 2010

In February, I wrote about the sinking of the Concordia, the tall ship used by the Class Afloat, which was based here in Lunenburg.

Since then, the Class Afloat have chartered the Sail Training Ship, Sorlandet, of Norway, and are at this moment heading for Barcelona.

Today I was shocked to hear of the distress of another tall ship, the Fryderik Chopin.

The BBC news report said that she was drifting at sea, about 100 miles south west of the Isles of Scilly, after losing her masts in gale force winds. On board was a crew of 47; 36 of these being 14 year olds.

Although the vessel had an engine, the skipper was reluctant to use it in case debris and rigging from the masts got caught in the propeller.

A container ship, the MSC Narissa, responded to coastguard calls for assistance and acted as a windbreak to shelter the ship from the weather.

A bulk carrier, a lifeboat from the Isles of Scilly and a large fishing vessel also responded to an appeal for assistance.

The Newlyn fishing vessel, Nova Spirro, attached a line to the vessel and began towing it to Plymouth early on Friday evening.  The trip was expected to take about three days but was dependent on the weather.

There have been no reported injuries and the captain has confirmed that all are well.

The thing that drew my attention to this story was the fact that I watched last year as the Fryderyk Chopin sailed into Lunenburg with its crew. Then, it was – like the Concordia – the second ship for the Class Afloat Programme.

That it too, nearly came to the same end as the Concordia, in the same year, is scary and shows the power of the sea under difficult weather conditions.

Like the story of the Concordia, the main thing is that everyone is safe.

I found this  Blog written by Morgan Brown, during his year on the Fryderyk Chopin. It has some great photos and I noticed that the vessel was in Leith Port last June. There are some photos of trips to Edinburgh and St Andrews.


Class Afloat, Lunenburg – the future looks bright

4 07 2010

I was recently looking at some of my photos of the Tall Ships Festival at Halifax and found these photos of the Concordia.

The Concordia was the training ship for the Class afloat, which is based in Lunenburg. Last February, she sank off the coast of Brazil. Thankfully, everyone was rescued. The Class Afloat was left without a training ship, so the students returned to Lunenburg to continue their studies..

I have just been reading that ‘Class Afloat’ has found a new sailing ship to continue from September of this year. They will charter the Sail Training Ship, Sorlandet, of Norway.

Terry Davies, Chairman of West Island College says on the Class Afloat website –

The Sorlandet, a fully rigged ship, is one of the true jewels on the Sail Training stage. Larger than the Concordia and rigourously maintained, she is Norwegian flagged and classed. She offers us the classroom and accommodation capacity that will serve our programme perfectly and she is certainly one of the most beautiful tall ships in the worldwide Class A fleet. We will post, shortly, the layout and equipment details, photos and a short history of the vessel on our web site.

This is a photo of the Sorlandet I found on the web.

The Sorlandet is one of three tall ships (and the oldest) operated by a nonprofit foundation, controlled and partly funded by the Norwegian Department of Culture. It has a colourful history – it was formerly a navy training ship for young cadets. In 1933 it visited the World Fair in Chicago and in 1986 it crossed the Atlantic for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in New York. She was damaged during World War II, and was restored and set sail again in 1948. In 1958 she was equipped with engine and propeller. She was engaged in a film shoot in New York and has performed many cruises between Bermuda and Boston and throughout Scandinavia and Europe.

Class Afloat initially expects to place approximately 45 students per semester and a staff of 15 adults aboard, starting September 5th of this year and embarking from Kristiansand, Norway.

The vessel will sail from Norway to Western Europe, into the Mediterranean and on to Northern and Western Africa before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean, South America, Central America and Bermuda. Sørlandet will return to Europe in May 2011.

Unfortunately for us folk in Lunenburg, it doesn’t look as if we will get a glimpse of this beautiful ship.

Tall Ship Concordia Sinks Off Brazil

19 02 2010

We’ve just heard the upsetting news that the tall ship Concordia has gone down off the coast of Brazil. The good news is that all of the Class Afloat has been rescued.

Here is the latest news report.

The Class Afloat was set up in 1984 to give young people the opportunity to travel the world on a sailing ship whilst continuing their academic studies.

We watched it sail out of Lunenburg last September and the town was abuzz with parents seeing their children off on this 9 month long trip.

Here is one of the students thoughts, written in the ship’s log this month .
Reflection – Sam G.

15 months, 18 different countries, 20 ports of call, over 40 cities, 1 ocean, 6 seas, 31 350 nautical miles later, 109 influential people. This combination has been my Class Afloat experience. All of these adventures, experiences and people add up and contribute to molding who I have become. As much as I would love to, I do not know how to explain nor share this past year and a half with you. This experience has been rich with the best and worst times of my life, a rollercoaster of emotions, and indescribable events. I hate that when we try to help you understand it sounds cliché. I hate that we can’t share the joy it brings to be a part of this crew. I hate that we can’t share the peace we experience when sitting on deck watching the mast against the starts. I’m happy you will never have to endure the green plague of seasickness, but sad that you cannot experience the victory of overcoming and defeating it. I wish we could share the cultures we experience and the relationships we form. I wish that we could share the simple pleasures that life at sea can bring. I wish that we could lift the burdens of society and ease the stresses of money. There is a peace of mind you accomplish when you are not being judged by superficial appearances or pressured by others. These things allow you to reflect, learn about yourself, and explore your role as a global citizen. Class Afloat has been more than traveling, more than community, and more than self-discovery- it has become a choice of lifestyle.

I had links here to the Class Afloat web site, but that seems to be disabled at the moment. The gallery on it had some amazing photos.

Instead you can see a video of life on the Concordia at

This loss of this ship will be felt here in Lunenburg and we wonder if it will ever be replaced.