Eye of the Wind

John Briggs
13th February 2006, 08:58
Eye of the Wind was one of the last commercial square rigged ships to be built. She has an iron hull and was launched in 1911 in Brake, Germany, expressly for the Argentinian hide trade.

Accidently damaged by fire, she was left as a hulk in Gotenburg, Sweden. In 1973 she was purchased and lovingly restored by a group of friends. When not engaged in movie making or scientific expeditions (she was flag ship for the two year round the world project 'Operation Drake') she sails the oceans of the world with 18 paying adventurers (working passengers) and a professional crew of around 8 to 10.

One of the prettiest brigantines afloat I was fortunate enough to sail in her for a couple of months in 1983 as Master. From Honiara, other South Pacific islands and back to Sydney via the Great Barrier Reef.

I have attched a few photos.

13th February 2006, 09:26
Ahoy John,

Here her History/Details.Will bring back good memories.


John Briggs
13th February 2006, 09:46
Ahoy John,

Here her History/Details.Will bring back good memories.


Many thanks Ruud - great site!

jim barnes
13th February 2006, 09:52
Lovely pictures John, you done it, i have always fancied it, too old now,, dream on jim (Hippy)

Steve Farrow
29th September 2006, 14:35
Would I be correct in thinking that this was the ship with the grey painted hull that was laid-up in the Alexander Dock, Grimsby in the early 1970's?

John Briggs
29th September 2006, 22:54
No Steve, couldn't have been her. She first arrived in U.K. at Faversham in 1975 where she was restored before heading off on her first voyage as the Eye.

Cpt Dick Brooks
15th October 2014, 12:31
I first met up with the 'Eye of the Wind' in Port Vila Harbour after battering my way for four days from Suva. My ship, Debut, had caught the tail end of a bad storm down in the Antarctic, with thirty foot swells quartering from the south east, even though we were in the tropics. There was only the main accommodation block and the forecastle above water, as the main and side decks were awash up to the height of the bulwarks. With only me and my young Samoan wife on board, it had been a hard passage.
The 'Eye of the Wind' had also been caught up in this storm, arriving from New Caledonia the day before, with many of her swashports bent outwards and other damage on deck. They were licking their wounds, trying to clear up their deck. When they saw Debut approaching from the stern they thought she was a modern-day Mary Celeste, with no one on board.
I rang down slow astern on the telegraph, then Stop and went out of the starboard wheelhouse door. After descending two sets of companion-way ladders, I ran along the main-deck and up on to the forecastle to let go the anchor. When Mariana came up from the depths of the engine room I pointed out the 'Eye of the Wind'. Tiger Timbs came over in his launch to welcome us and invite us on board his ship for lunch. This was more than welcome, as it had been impossible to cook during our passage from Fiji.
The 'Eye of the Wind' had sailed from Plymouth, in the UK, two weeks after Debut, in September, 1978, as part of Operation Drake, and this was the first time that we'd caught up, almost six years later. Tiger showed us around his ship, and many of his crew came on board Debut to look around. They were fascinated how a thousand ton ship could be handled by only the two of us.
We met up with Tiger on board the 'Eye of the Wind' fifteen months later in Cairns Harbour, in Australia, when they visited with their charter party. There was another pleasurable drinking party, as we caught up on old times and what had happened since. They were heading north east to New Caledonia from Sydney with another party of guests on board.
I next met up with Tiger another two years later at Emily Reef, twenty five miles SE of Cooktown. I had been shipwrecked some eighteen months before, with only Mariana and baby Robbie on board. As there was no food on Debut suitable to wean a baby, I had arranged a lift for her and the young toddler back to Cairns, on their way back to Samoa. Tiger brought his guests on board Debut to look around, then invited me on board the 'Eye of the Wind' for lunch. He dug through his stores and gave me twelve boxes of provisions to help me along, before departing on his way. This was much appreciated, as I'd just been through a bad winter on my own, and even the fish had gone down into deep water. I spent another eighteen months castaway before returning to Australia on my way to Western Samoa to collect Mariana and our two young children, then around the world to the UK. All the best, Tiger, and your good ship, 'Eye of the Wind'. Your generosity was greatly appreciated. Cpt Dick Brooks.

15th October 2014, 14:26
John Briggs and Cpt Dick Brooks, I've briefly dived on the Great Barrier Reef.
Taking a ship through that lot at night would frighten the cr*p out of me. (EEK)

Bob S
15th October 2014, 15:00
She evaded me for almost 50 years but I caught up with her in the Tall Ships Parade of Sail in London on the 9th September this year. Great looking ship :)

Cpt Dick Brooks
16th October 2014, 12:10
Hi, Basil, good to hear from you. I loved diving on The Great Barrier Reef, and did so most days of the first year I was castaway to collect fish and set out the anchoring systems to hold Debut safely in place. Once my wife, Mariana, left I cut this frequency down because of the risks involved of diving alone.
Two weeks before my arrival in Australia, the Rainbow Warrior was sunk by the French in Auckland Harbour, and I wrote to Greenpeace in London, offering the use of my ship to continue their work. At the same time, the British film company, Phillip-Woodhouse Productions of Pinewood Studios, London, were looking for a sister ship for their next film about the sinking. The letter from Greenpeace landed on their office desk in Auckland suggesting using Debut, at the same time as the letter from Tiger Timbs recommending the same. The 'Eye of the Wind' had been used in many of their productions, the last being 'Taipei'. I received a letter from the film company, requesting me to phone their office in Auckland collect. With an air of excitement, I did so and was offered the part for my ship. Of course, when the press got hold of it the news was front page all over Australia.
First, they had to write the script, then look for backers for the ten million dollar production. Two engineers came out to my ship, now anchored in Sandy Bay just outside of Cairns Harbour, from the local shipyard to survey Debut and calculate the cost to convert Debut to look like the 'Rainbow Warrior'. Their quotation of Aus $300,000 was accepted by Phillip-Woodhouse Productions, and preparations went ahead to take Debut up on to the slip in Cairns to start the work.
But first, the backers for the film had to be found! And when they were, the script had to be rewritten to meet their requirements.
That old devil time was running against us... we had been in Australia thirteen months, by this time... one month more than is allowed by Australian customs, when the full import duty has to be paid for any vessel remaining in Australian waters at their own valuation. A writ was stuck on my wheelhouse windows, giving me 30 days to leave Australian waters, or have the vessel impounded. I contacted the Maritime General's Office in Canberra, to find out where I could anchor within The Great Barrier Reef that was in International waters, and was told that any anchorage that is more than five miles from any drying reef was in International waters.
On 13th October, 1986, I anchored Debut in the 40 meters hole, 25 miles east of Bloomfield, to await instructions from Phillip-Woodhouse Productions, to return to Cairns to go up on the slip... but that request never came. Mariana had to return to Cairns to deliver our baby son, and returned three months later. After she had been back on the ship only a week, a tropical line-squall bore down on us from the south-east on a barmy late afternoon to turn our peaceful day into a living hell. As the ship was lying with the current at ninety degrees to the wind, the ship hadn't time to come up into the wind before the inch and a quarter stud-link anchor chain parted with a bang, leaving us adrift. With visibility down to twenty feet and an unknown amount of chain still remaining attached to the ship from the 900 feet let out, I thought it best to let her sort herself out. I didn't want to hit a reef with a spinning twelve foot diameter propeller, because of the damage that could have caused, and both of our radars had long-since died, so she drifted before the screaming storm. She gently grounded on Emily Reef, 25 miles SE of Cooktown, at three in the morning on the 30th March, 1987... and the rest is history.
The main shipping channel is some five to ten miles wide, lying near to the coast. It is deep and well marked, suitable for the largest ships, even though it is 1,200 miles in length. The main problem is the hundreds of prawn trawlers fishing its sandy bottom, turning it into a motorway with their lights. All the best, Basil. Cpt Dick Brooks.