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Eye of the wind passing Tower Bridge

Celebrating the Operation Drake Anniversary

Operation Drake was an event that left a strong impact in the lives of hundreds of young people, officially called the Young Explorers. For the 40th anniversary of launching this 2-years-expedition many of them came together in London, also chartering their former flagship to complete the experience.

The Eye came in already the evening before to make fast at the Naval station near Tower Bridge. She then left again to have an approach a bit longer than 100 metres for the opening of the bridge that was scheduled for 3 p.m. on May 23rd. Everything was ready at the very minute, only a couple of water taxis and pleasure crafts spoiled the picture of her passing for some moments. Still, the somewhat less young explorers did again what they did 40 years earlier: they manned (and womanned) the yard to greet the city of London.

Eye of the Wind under Tower Bridge
yard manned and womanned with YEs
Eye of the Wind bow on Thames
Eye of the Wind poop deck and bridge

Then, as London bridge was unlikely to open for the ship, they waited for approval by the port authority, then set some symbolic fores and returned back through the re-opened brigde to the naval jetty.

Eye of the Wind on Thames
Eye of the Wind on Thames with sails set
Eye of the Wind on Thames with sails set under Tower Bridge
Eye of the Wind under Tower Bridge

A bit later the celebrations would begin on the ship and in the premises of the naval station on the river. As some of the former YEs had not seen the ship ever since while others returned quite frequent, everybody came on deck at least for a visit and to examine the changes done ever since - some trying to explain their children and grandchildren she did provide not quite the same amenities that time as she does now.

crowds on the midships hatch Frank Esson explanations aft

Then, after the come-together, the more or less official part of the event would begin in the sheltered premises. It was certainly well organized, only one thing was forgotten by the organizers (sorry, Trevor!): the light situation for photography. With the sun in the back, it is difficult to make better pictures than the ones we now have.

Trevor Moss

Trevor Moss, organizer of the event


John Blashford-Snell

Christopher Sainsbury

Christopher Sainsbury, still on duty as expedition photographer

Catherine Lawrence

Cathy Lawrence auctioning beautiful Panama molas on behalf of the SES.

A collection of first day covers was presented to the Eye. That situation was a bit weird as Michael Vogelsgesang, current captain, didn't have anything to do with the matter while Tiger, who was present and had owned and operated the ship during op Drake was nearly not mentioned. Michael thankfully rectified the situation as much as possible.

It turned out a very lively evening with probably many more people in the naval premises than originally planned. Many called for a next reunion and maybe it will happen - at the 50th anniversary. Tiger remained nearly invisible that evening, so I had to ask Barbara for her picture:

Barbara Harris and Tiger Timbs

After request, I also received one by Cathy Lawrence with her daughter Claire and Leslie in Gravesend.

Claire Lawrence, Tiger Timbs and Lesley Reiter


Tower Bridge at night

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