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.

The Bluenose sails home to Lunenburg

26 07 2009

Lunenburg is the home port of the Bluenose II.  She sailed up to Halifax for the Tall ships Festival and then returned to Lunenburg on the Tuesday morning. Here she is leaving Halifax on Monday after the Parade of Sail.


And I saw her passing our house early Tuesday morning and headed to the harbour for this video.

The Caledonia, another Lunenburg ship, actually returned on Monday evening as we sat on the deck at Cameron’s and I got this photo below.

Concordia returning

The Unicorn, Larinda, Concordia and PeersFancy  also all sailed in to Lunenburg to continue the festival. This is someone else’s photo of the Unicorn in Halifax.


The Unicorn was built  in 1947 from metal from old German submarines. It was first of all a Dutch motor fishing vessel, but  when its fishing days were over it was converted to a sailing ship and renamed the Unicorn.  It is now a sail training ship for women and is the only all female crewed Tall Ship.

The  Larinda is a replica of a 1767 schooner, built over a period of 26 years by Larry Mahan of Barnstable, Mass.  She was a labour of love, full of wood carvings and fancy and fun. Mahan sailed her in many Tall Ships events, where she was much admired. Then in 2003, having taken shelter in Halifax Harbour during Hurricane Juan, she was rammed by another ship during the storm and sank, right next to a sewerage outlet. It was a big mess, and Mahan despaired of ever being able to repair her.

Larinda's stern, reflected in the waterLarinda’s stern, reflected in the water of Lunenburg Harbour

The salvaged boat was bought by a Nova Scotia couple who live on St. Margaret’s Bay, and is being carefully restored.  Larinda didn’t actually make it to the Halifax Tall Ships event, and hasn’t been fully rigged yet. But she was towed to Lunenburg and rafted up alongside the schooner Unicorn, from whose deck we could admire her. Larinda is sporting a new colour scheme of black, white and bronze instead of green and off-white (see photos of Larinda before the sinking).  Her distinctive red battened junk sails were irreparably damaged, and her new sails will be white. The frog in the tricorner hat still graces her bow, and her brasswork is shiny.

It was nice to see this ship in Lunenburg and hopefully we’ll see her under sail in the not too distant future.

Tall Ships Festival, Halifax

23 07 2009

Last Sunday Jeff and I headed to Halifax to see the Tall Ships Festival. This was quite an outing for us as we haven’t been so far from home – a  75 minute drive – since being in Halifax with Cameron and Louise last October! Well, we have actually driven farther south and west from Lunenburg, but on really quiet roads. As it is such a thought for us to leave the tranquility of the South Shore, we decided that we’d stay the night at the Marriott Hotel, making for a more relaxed trip.

Tall ships arrive from all over the world and many are competing in the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge. This is a seven heat race that started in Spain in May, then travelled to Tenerife, Bermuda, Charleston, Boston, Halifax and finally to Belfast.

The atmosphere at the waterfront was exciting, especially for us country bumpkins, and I took hundreds of photos. This little video, just gives a feeling of the waterfront and you might recognize the dour Scot.

Bounty 3

The Bounty,above, was built in 1960 for MGM studios’ Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando. Since then, the new Bounty has starred in several feature-length films and dozens of TV shows and historical documentaries.

The studios commissioned the ship from the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in our town of Lunenburg.  The new Bounty was constructed from the original ship’s drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.

In February of 2001 H.M.S. Bounty was purchased  by HMS Bounty Organization LLC, which is dedicated to keeping the ship sailing and using her as a vehicle for teaching the nearly lost arts of square rigged sailing and seamanship.

SagresThe Sagres , above, is a Portuguese Naval training ship.She was built in 1937 by the German Navy. She was captures by the U. S. Forces in 1945 and given to the Brazil Navy. In 1962 she was purchased by Portugal.

US coastguardThe US coastguard training ship. the Eagle, was also built by the German Navy.

The Concordia, above, is a well known sight in Lunenburg, being the school for the Class Afloat. It will head off from Lunenburg in September on a 9 month long trip.

EuropaThis is the Dutch sail training ship, the Europa, as it prepared for the Parade of Sail.

Fox harbour 1Destination Fox Harbour is actually a Tall Ship – a very modern one, that had Jeff wishing he could win the lottery, but even that wouldn’t buy this ship.

Below you can see just how tall the mast is on this ship as it prepared for the Parade of Sail, alongside The Eagle.

Fox harbour  +

In the evening there was a fantastic fireworks display, from a barge out on the water. We went onto the roof garden at the hotel and had a front seat to observe the pyrotechnics. My video was a bit useless, lots of black sky with some splashes of colour in the distance, but Jeff got some good photos.


All in all, quite an adventure for us Glen folk.

I’ll tell you about the ships that sailed back here to Lunenburg after the Tall Ships event in Halifax, on my next post.