Grand Turk may be paying her last visit
STEPHEN PULLINGER Each year she has been the star of Yarmouth's maritime festival and an evocative reminder of the port's heyday when scores of sailing ships lined the busy quays in front of wealthy merchant houses.
Each year she has been the star of Yarmouth's maritime festival and an evocative reminder of the port's heyday when scores of sailing ships lined the busy quays in front of wealthy merchant houses.
However, when the Grand Turk slips silently up the river in September for her sixth visit to the festival, it is likely to be the last chance the waiting crowds will have to see a vessel made famous in the television series Hornblower.
The replica of an 18th century frigate, modelled on the Royal Navy ship Blanford, is up for sale and by next summer could be plying her trade in the Caribbean.
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Ship's captain Ian MacDougal, who led the design and construction of the ship in Marmaris, Turkey, in 1997, explained they had become the victims of advances in technology.
He said: “She was chiefly built for the Hornblower series but nowadays the film work that helped to pay for her running costs has dried up and been replaced by computer-generated images.”
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The Whitby-based ship, built from the African hardwood Iroko on an oak frame, is kept busy over the summer attending events all over Europe, but Mr MacDougal said that was still not enough to make her viable.
“The costs of running a tall ship, for example all the lifesaving equipment required on board, is horrendous,” he said.
The owner, Turk Phoenix, based in the Naval Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, has already had a serious inquiry from the Caribbean and the Grand Turk looks destined to become an island-hopping tourist ship.
The Maritime Festival, which has grown to attract more than 30,000 visitors from all over the Eastern Counties, has traditionally been launched by a Friday “sail away” along the coast by the Grand Turk.
Mr MacDougal said: “It will be a huge wrench if it is our last visit to Yarmouth. The festival is a fantastic event and the crew and I will miss all the friends we have made.”
A host of other vessels will be visiting the festival on the weekend of September 8 and 9 including the cargo sailing vessel Alabatros, two Royal Navy ships, wherries and Gorleston lifeboat.
The programme will include shanty singers, bands, entertainers, traditional seafood, craft stalls and demonstrations.