My personal voyage with Clipper Ship City of Adelaide (1864). Since 1999 I have been following the plight of the City of Adelaide clipper ship, the oldest surviving clipper ship in the world. I had the amazing experience of accompanying her on a cargo ship from Rotterdam to Adelaide during the winter of 2013/14. My book about my experience is in progress.
One of Captain Bruce’s great-great-granddaughter invited me to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival which is held every two years in Hobart, Tasmania. I was so excited to be going back to Adelaide as my first port of call, especially as I was giving two talks on board City of Adelaide, on the weekend of 3 and 4 February. I was met at the airport by my lovely, generous hosts Ian and Jeanette, who are always very welcoming, fun and helpful, and friend Rosemary who was waving the Saltire.
I could hardly contain myself the next morning when we went to Port Adelaide to see the clipper ship. She is still sitting on barge Bradley, however a good amount of work is going on inside the hull, such as scraping off the old paint from the iron beams in the ‘tween deck and painting them with the original colour from 1864, planning out for replica 1st class cabins. New windows have been fitted into the stern where Captain Bruce’s cabin was, as well as a very smart new South Australia Coat of Arms.
It was such a thrill to have two fantastic musicians involved with the first talk. I had understood City of Adelaide‘s honorary piper, and Commander of Clan Ross in Australia would not be able to come along for the evening. As I immersed myself in the sights, smells and feel of the ship in the ‘tween deck where I was giving the talks, I heard the lilt of the pipes permeating through her planks. I rushed out and saw Des in finest regalia, playing the pipes. I was also hugely honoured that Adelaide-based international singer/harpist Siobhan Owen accompanied me on her clarsach (small lever harp) with my composition City of Adelaide : Farewell to Scotland whilst I read my poem City of Adelaide Bleeds before launching into my presentations to a well-attended audience.
I was lucky to meet Siobhan again in Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe in August 2017, when we repeated our performance on two evenings. https://siobhanowen.com/
I am feeling very nostalgic tonight. Celebrations are taking place tonight on board Bradley Barge on which sits the wonderful, oldest surviving clipper ship in the world, City of Adelaide aka SV Carrick with whom I voyaged on board MV Palanpur. I say “whom” because she is a living, breathing entity.
On our voyage I wrote a diary in tandem with that of someone who was on the maiden voyage in 1864. Her Day One was 12 August 1864, my Day One was 26 November 2013, leaving Rotterdam en route for South Australia. This is an extract for 7 November 1864. This was her day 87, the final one in her voyage from Plymouth, England to Port Adelaide, South Australia. Our diaries are the core of my up-and-coming book which I’m bringing to a conclusion now. Keep looking back for more news. You are most welcome.
“A beautiful day. I woke about 5am and saw land from the porthole. We went on Deck nearly an hour before breakfast. The land at first looked rather low and barren. We were busy packing in the morning. After lunch addresses were presented to the Captain and Doctor. We anchored about noon. The health officer came on board immediately ……..”
It was essential for me to go to the tall ships regatta at Greenwich in September. As many of you know I have been a bit of a tall ships groupie since I first discovered them in 1993 at Newcastle. I tried from then on to see them somewhere each year as they made their way through the races and cruise-in-company legs of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races, subsequently http://www.sailtraininginternational.org/.
I wanted to experience sailing on the Thames on a tall ship, to capture the feeling of what it would be like in the great days of sail when City of Adelaide graced the seas, and be amongst the sails of other great vessels as we glided past the Royal Naval College at Greenwich from Woolwich, where some of the participating vessels were moored.
I had the great privilege to be drawn to sail on Oosterschelde. The day was calm and sunny and we sailed through the Thames Barrier.
I chatted with the Captain for several minutes about the vessel and discovered she had been a cargo vessel originally.
Here we are with Stavros S Niarchos to port.
Here I am on Stavros S Niarchos bowsprit in 2005, whilst crewing the ship round the Greek Islands with my husband, Alan, over Hogmany 2005.
and at the top of the 145′ mast.
I visited the National Maritime Museum and discovered City of Adelaide‘s builder, William Pile was not in the listing of shipbuilders in Sunderland. This sent me on a mission to find out why. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I met a lady called Cathy at Kings Cross on my way home. Her cousin Pam knows all about the shipyards. I have been to stay with her and spent many hours carrying out research and learning how to caulk under the experienced, watchful eye of Derek.
Am off soon to Greenwich for the Tall Ships Regatta from 4 to 10 September. So looking forward to it. It was at Greenwich last October that City of Adelaide was renamed from Carrick back to her original name by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Thanks Angie Townsend! Looking forward to being on your show on online community radio Radio Saltire – www.radiosaltire.org – next Wednesday 27 August 2014 between 6 and 8pm to talk about my writing, journey from Rotterdam to Australia with clipper ship City of Adelaide. Taking my clarsach along to play a tune or two. Come and join us!
1. This afternoon I was in Edinburgh for Bizarre Guitar and Terse Verse. Outside the Blind Poet I passed two girls. One had pink and blue hair. I heard her say ‘Adelaide’. I stopped dead in my tracks and spoke to her. She had come across especially to take in the wealth of Edinburgh Festival.
2. I caught a wee bit of Ade At Sea (http://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week12/ade-sea) and lo and behold, after a map appeared with Plymouth on the map, he visited the Eddystone Lighthouse.
150 years ago today City of Adelaide picked up passengers from Plymouth and set off for Adelaide, South Australia on her maiden voyage. Diary entry for 12 August 1864:
August 12, 1864 – Friday
A beautiful day. About 9.50 A.M. a boatman came to tell us that the City of Adelaide was in sight. Tom and I took a walk and bought several little things. At 1 P.M. we took a boat and sailed to the ship. Blanche and I wrote letters to the Patersons. Tom stayed on board for about two hours. We sailed at 4 P.M. We stayed on deck till after we had passed the Eddystone Lighthouse and then went down to bed but not to sleep. We were dreadfully seasick during the night.
This is Day One. My diary of City of Adelaide‘s final voyage as cargo on the deck of heavy lift ship MV Palanpur begins on 26 November 2013 and is written in tandem with this diary from the maiden voyage.
Last night I read at the Blind Poet pub in Edinburgh during a 5 1/2 hour marathon of spoken word put on by Blind Poetics (www.blindpoetics.com). My slot was placed amongst bards from the Federation of Writers (Scotland). I spoke briefly about my voyage on board MV Palanpur with our precious cargo clipper ship City of Adelaide taking her back to Australia, and shared a few poems written on the voyage.
Today I spent a worthy afternoon in the company of Bil & Cyn at Edinburgh Fringe, in the Blind Poet. For the last few years they’ve had their own show called Bizarre Guitar and Terse Verse, a wonderfully balanced duo act of poetry and jazz guitar (www.bil-cyn.com). They introduced me to their friend and guest musician Les Ray (www.leslieray.co.uk) who is also a freelance writer and musician, and is involved with the Cambridge Folk Festival. All three are coming to my house tomorrow, bringing their guitars and voice. So looking forward to that.
Today is the 150th Anniversary of the maiden voyage of clipper ship City of Adelaide. She was built in Sunderland by William Pile and left London headed for South Australia on 6th August 1864. Photo from Wikipedia.
William Pile and I share the same birthday – though I hasten to add, not the same birth year!
I was lucky to voyage with City of Adelaide on board heavy-lift cargo ship M V Palanpur, leaving Rotterdam on 26 November 2013 and arriving in Port Adelaide on 3 February 2014 after 70 days at sea.
Captain David Bruce was City of Adelaide‘s first Master and part-owner. Photo from Wikipedia.
I was delighted to meet Captain Bruce’s great-granddaughter Pam Whittle at a Reception to welcome City of Adelaide home, on board one of Port Adelaide’s cruise boats Dolphin Explorer. Pam is an amazing lady with two sparkling daughters, Meredith and Julia and all have become treasures in my life. This photo gives the scale of size of City of Adelaide, thanks to Meredith for sending me it.
… and here I am. I stayed on board Palanpur until City of Adelaide was off loaded onto the barge Bradley, her temporary home.
Thank you for looking! I hope to see you again soon.
YES! Clipper ship City of Adelaide birthday and homecoming celebrations coming up this Saturday 17 May at Port Adelaide, South Australia and I’m going to be there! Loads of fun and entertainment and … I’ve been asked to give a talk to be held in the Speakers’ Tent about the diary I kept on her final voyage on board heavy-lift cargo ship MV Palanpur from Rotterdam on 26 November 2013 to Adelaide on 3 February 2014! Flying out to Adelaide on 14th May, arriving 15th night. This will be the event that will bring my journey with clipper ship City of Adelaide to a close as far as my book is concerned. Back at the beginning of June when sparks will fly from my keyboard.