S : O : S - Save Our Ship
As we write this, the 12 to 4 watch should just be relieving the 8 to 12s on the passage between Lord Howe and Vila. Instead, here we sit at Pier 9, Walsh Bay in Sydney, detained against our wills! Each day extending the drain on our resources and increasing the damage to our credibility.
Here's the story: In April, two days before we were due to leave Hobart for Sydney, and two weeks after passing our annual survey, we were notified that the British Department of Transport (DoT) had changed its survey requirements and any sail training ship registered under the British flag would be prohibited from carrying trainees until it could comply with the new rules. These new requirements demand that every sail training vessel undertaking ocean passages must be able to survive an 80 degree knockdown. This implies that the ship must be capable of righting herself from an almost horizontal position! In her present form, the 'Eye of the Wind' cannot meet these requirements. We were consequently forced to leave Hobart with crew only. There has been no grace period allowed to undertake the necessary modifications without a loss of reputation, money and respectability.
The new requirements, spurred by the loss of the 'Marques' in 1984, are based on the US Coast Guard's stability rules for Sailing School Vessels. Very few existing US sailing ships are capable of complying with these requirements for ocean going voyaging, and consequently many have had to obtain exemption in order to continue operation. During the course of the 'Marques' investigation, direct comparisons were made between her and the 'Eye of the Wind', to the extent that the two vessels were considered to be very similar in several respects. This similarity was considered to be appropriate notwithstanding the fact that the 'Eye of the Wind' has twice the displacement, is built of iron instead of wood, is fitted with 70 tons of ballast, compared to no fixed ballast for the 'Marques' and has been fully surveyed by DoT surveyors on numerous occasions during the last ten years, compared with no full DoT survey for the 'Marques'. Is this comparison fair, we ask? 'Eye of the Wind' was considered safe enough to carry more than 200 Young Explorers during Operation Drake from 1978 to 1980, under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Charles and with full DoT approval. By comparison, the 'Marques' was mainly confined to film work as she was not permitted to carry trainees until late 1983.
Whilst the 'Eye of the Wind' is renowned as one of the most meticulously maintained restoration sailing ships operating today, as we all realize, the safety of any vessel in a crisis situation is ultimately dependent on the crew who man her. 'Eye of the Wind' continually attracts many of the most experienced and capable square rig crew members and skippers from all corners of the sailing World. She has circumnavigated the globe 2,5 times with another 5 years spent sailing throughout the North and South Pacific and in all Australian waters, at times experiencing severe storm conditions, with massive seas and winds over Force 10. Need we say more.
Since our arrival in Sydney, 'Eye of the Wind' has spent four days on the floating dock at Garden Island taking offsets in order to verify the hull lines and has been through two inclining tests to check her stability. The procedure used to assess the stability is conducted with the ship sitting alongside the wharf in still water. The results obtained are fed into a computer and finally a single number emerges which is considered to be a measure of the seaworthiness of the vessel in rough conditions.
Without extensive modifications, it is almost impossible for sailing ships of the vintage of 'Eye of the wind' to achieve the value of this number.
Despite repeated representations to the DoT in England to allow the ship to fulfill this year's cruise commitments, alas, to date, all requests have been denied. We apologise to all you voyagers who have booked on the Pacific legs, and whose cruises we have been forced to cancel due to the above circumstances.
We had hoped to carry out the required work after the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988, but this was unacceptable to the DoT. We are still awaiting verification from London, but the outcome of all this appears to be that the existing ballast of railway sleepers, granite blocks and chippings has to be removed and 80 to 90 tons of pig iron/railway lines have to be positioned on the hull plating in the bilges.
If you want to see the continued operation of 'Eye of the Wind' we need your help in many ways. As you can imagine, changing the ballast will be a massive task!! If you are able to assist in any way (manpower, equipment, pig iron etc.), please contact us on the ship on (02)278877 and ask for Angie, Helen or Debbie, and let us know how you can assist. Remember, no volunteer effort is too small!!, and be warned, the work will be tough and dirty, and the only reward will be the satisfaction of seeing 'Eye of the wind' in full sail again.
We are endeavouring to have this work completed, and 'Eye of the Wind' operational and sailing again by the beginning of September.
We hope this has helped to clarify the ship's position and dispel any rumours you may have heard.
As you are aware, Adventure Under Sail has been run by Rod Clarke, one of the owners, since the vessel has been in Australian waters.
To allow Rod more time with his young family, and to enable him to pursue his own career, Lesley Reiter will take over office management and bookings from 1 July 1987
All of you who have sailed aboard the ship will know that Lesley is one of the owners, and has been aboard since 1976, and is au fait with all aspects of ship board life and the cruising grounds. We feel that she will be a valuable asset in this regard.
Until the ship departs (which we envisage will be early September) an answer phone will be available during the day, and Lesley will contact you in the evenings or at the weekend.
For urgent enquires, you are welcome to phone the ship direct on ...
Lesley's address is:
'Eye of the Wind' will depart Sydney in the middle of December 1987 for Hobart.
As stated in newsletter No. 3, people interested in participating in this voyage and the subsequent celebrations in Sydney, are requested to write to Lesley, and the lucky ones will be drawn out of a hat. Please lodge your name and address by 30 September
The successful people will be advised by 14 October 1987