Thursday, 11 March 2010

Blog: "...would it be fantastic if the world could once again see a sailing clipper ship..."

Post content kindly translated from Swedish by Karin Gafvelin.

Fredrik Leijonhufvud 9 March 2010 wrote on his blog 'NÄTVERKET FÖR FARTYGSBEVARANDE':

In Scotland, on bare land, lays unbelievably enough the old clipper ship "City of Adelaide", build in 1864. The ship is now acutely threatened by demolition, and the enthusiasts have gotten a respite to find a solution. The plan is to transport the ship to Adelaide, Australia, where the interest apparently is bigger. This ship raises a lot of questions. Is it worth saving, and if so, how? Sure it is beautiful in some way when it is laying on bare land, sure it would be exciting to see it in its former glory, and sure would it be fantastic if the world could once again see a sailing clipper ship?

To try to preserve her in her current condition seems like it could be an interesting alternative, but it doesn't seem to in the interest of the local athorities or museums. The solution seems to once again rely on enthusiasts and private financiers, like it ever so often does when it comes to ship preservation. In this case I can only see bringing her back to sailing condition as a reasonable solution. A ship that is in such worn down condition as this one will probably not make a good stationary museum ship, as it would lack too much of the material authenticity cmpared to ships like the Cutty Sark or the Victory. But this is of course only my own opinion.

I wish the enthusiasts behind this project the best of luck and hope that everybody that reads this also visit their homepage where you also can support the project.


Karin Gafvelin 9 March 2010 wrote:

I am happy to see that the City of Adelaide is brought to attention!

Concerning her I can happily announce that the date for destruction has been postponed to the end of May instead of the end of March, which was originally the plan.

Restoring Adelaide to sailing condition would of course be fantastic, but the question is how much of her can be kept. Would it be like so many other, similar projects, where a symbolic part of the keel etc. is kept intact, and the rest of the ship is replaced? When it comes to smaller boats I can see a point in doing so, but with Adelaide that is such a unique ship it seems a bit unneccesary to me. As opposed to Cutty Sark, Adelaide is in the closest completely untouched. From what I know she is also in a relativley good condition, regarding her being almost 150 years of age and not being looked after properly. In my opinion the best alternative is to preserve and restore her in a way that pays mind to and keeps her original parts, rig her, polish her up a bit and keep her as a museum ship in Sunderland, where she was once built.

Another interesting aspect about a potential restoration to sailing condition, where probably most of her woodwork such as planking and also the iron frames I presume would have to be replaced, is if it still would be the same City of Adelaide that we end up with? What defines a ship, a boat? A newly built replica ship would highly unlikely be considered being a 150 year old clipper ship, is it then reasonable to consider a ship where most of the original parts are replaced to be the same ship that in once were? Or do we rely on the ship's soul to live on even after a renovation? Existensial boat questions...

Whatever opinion one is of I am convinced that everybody with a sense of anything agree that anything is a better alternative than destruction, that is so fundamentally worthless that it hurts a bit to think of. The organisation that works on saving her, SCARF, doesn't have much money, labour or support. Send them an e-mail and share your sympathy and give them your support, it means more to them than you can imagine. It is the least that we can do to help those who struggle to save this magnificent ship and the unreplaceable part of maritime history that she represents. Losing her would be terrible, especially considering how unneccesary it would be.

Erik Enström 9 March 2010 wrote:

Well. Of course I think she is a very beautiful and fascinating ship. How did she end up there?

But if she is to be saved and kept it would require that a lot of crazy people want it at the same time. Maybe they exist "down under". From a shipbuilding point of view I don't think she would contribute with much that is unique. I often think about all the countless wrecks that lay hidden under the surface close to us. Everybody that has gone into the harbour of Mariehamn have passed over the "Plus" that sunk there during a towing. She is, apart from maybe the rigging, very complete and well preserved and about the size of "Pommern". And nobody waved any flags and demand a salvage of her right now. I feel that the time for large scale renovations is gone. Ships have always been restored and even rebuilt by their owners. Continuous authenticity of material is not a mantra and not of any bigger importance today. What is really important is the knowledge of how we work. In other words the terms of work has become more important than the age and origin of a piece of wood. A well-buildt replica is of big importance, maybe even more so than the original.

I think that in the case of the City of Adelaide we are blinded by her name and size. If you happen to live in Adelaide, Australia, your feelings are bound to feel extra much for her. And I totally agree that if you find financiers she is worthy of a fate better that destruction. She could at the least be allowed to stay where she is now. There seem to be sufficient space. And maybe her sole existence can bring more people to understand and appreciate the seafaring and shipbuilding of old times. I think that considering the costs, and from a knowledge point of view, she does most good where she is now. Maybe it would be possible to arrange to see her inside in some way. I believe in making her a museum ship in Sunderland, but I don't think that bringing her back to sailing condition is a good alternative.

Fredrik Leijonhufvud 10 March 2010 wrote:

I was just trying to figure out what would be a valid alternative today. Personally I think a preservation and keeping of her current condition is the most tempting and interesting one. I would find it more interesting to go visit her in the state she is in today, both of aesthetic reasons and to get knowledge and feel the winds of the history and old days. When I visit so-called museum ships I sometimes feel deceived when you realise how little is left of the "original" ship. But apparently it doesn't seem to be any interest to do so from the local authorities and financiers.

And if she doesn't get cut up I believe that yet another sailing museum ship is more viable than yet another stationary one. But unfortunatley it seems that she is in great risk of being cut up!

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