One very stormy wet morning in October 2005 - on the 21st to be exact - I got up too early and drove to Penzance in Cornwall. "Why" you ask? Well the 21st of October 2005 was the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson. So there were celebrations going on all over England. And Penzance had a very special attraction:
The German Lightship Bürgermeister O'swald or Elbe 1
On Sunday the 16th of October 2005 the Red Lady left her berth in the Fischereihafen in Cuxhaven and began the long trip across the English channel to Penzance. They made a stop on the Island of Helgoland to take advantage of the cheaper fuel there (Helgoland is a Duty Free Zone). Then they were off on the trip of a lifetime.
The lightship had never been this far from home. But she stood up to the long trip and arrived off Penzance in the evening on the 20th of October. The sea had been choppy and the "Lightship of Storms" had ample opportunity to live up to her pet-name.
Three Captains, Klaus Gerber, Charly Behrensen and Dieter Weber, took it in turns to take charge of the ship as she made her way towards Cornwall. They had their work cut out and progress initially was slow. At one time Klaus Gerber told his wife "we are only making two miles over ground".
The 27 strong crew and the guests on board had to learn to live with choppy conditions.
"Towards the end we made fantastic progress" explains Dieter Allers, a film maker from Cuxhaven, who - together with his friend and colleague - is on board to make a film about this historic journey. They slept well, even when the waves topped 4 metres. Only in the mornings acrobatic capabilities where required for the "dance in the shower".
The amateur radio equipment on board was well in use too. Uwe Wensauer (DK1KQ) - radio amateur and member of the crew - had installed his equipment in the radio shack and together with Eddie - who had paid for the trip to be able to use the radio - they had many contacts with fellow amateurs.
Some of the local amateurs from Penzance even visited the ship to meet the intrepid sailors.
Elbe 1 arrived off the coast of Cornwall late on Thursday afternoon after 5 days of sailing. She had to wait for two hours, while the harbour in Penzance was cleared. At about seven o'clock Elbe 1 was finally allowed to enter the harbour through the gates. A place was cleared for her right on the quay.
The harbour was busy and bound to get busier on Friday and Saturday - two more traditional ship were expected. The British schooner "Earl of Pembroke" and the Cornish three masted bark "Recouvrance" will also be moored inside the harbour walls.
The lightship was soon surrounded by all the busy activities of a harbour getting ready to celebrate.
And of course the crew expected some celebrations on board too. They were well prepared for all their own needs and those of their guests.
This is of course only part of what was on offer when the high society was about to visit the ship.
The top deck of the ship is all ready for the celebrations. The beer is cold, the crisps are waiting, the cake just needs uncovering ...
So now the ship was ready for:
Sadly I had to leave before the reception to get back home. But I am sure it was a great success.
Hopefully we will be able to link to other more detailed reports soon!
... Watch this space! ...
Für alle deutschsprachigen Freunde ... hier ist der Artikel auch in Deutsch
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