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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had initially posted this in the wrong corner

Doubtless some of you are following the restoration of the Portuguese Grand Banks schooner Santa Maria Manuela ... sistership to Argus (now Polynesia) and Creoula

This is a remarkable project that will result in the three steel-hulled sisters dating from the 1930s still sailing

For anyone not familiar with the SMM project, there is a brilliant ... absolutely brilliant ... website devoted to the project http://santamariamanuela.blogspot.com/

Perhaps there should be a permanent link to the SMM site from Ships Nostalgia. This is maritime preservation of a fine sailing ship how it should be

I heartily recommend this site
 

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Hi Jay,

They've been doing a remarkable job with her. I've watched her progress for many months now on that site.

Unfortunately, it's likely that only two sisters will be sailing. Since Windjammer went out of business last year, Polynesia has been lying in Aruba, slowly falling into disrepair. No bidders for her in 3 auctions thus far, with another yet to go this month. See this website for current pictures of her:

http://picasaweb.google.com/LibertyClip/Polynesia#

It's unlikely anyone would buy her for a cruise business, with the SOLAS rules likely to render her unusable. Hopefully there are still some rich sailing enthusiasts out there, who might realize that for a purchase price of @ $400,000, and perhaps another 1-2M to refurbish as a private yacht, she'd still be more reasonable than many newly built yachts. (Maltese Falcon, Athena, Eos, Atlantic, etc)

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Crikey, Steve
Hadn't realised that the old Argus had fallen on such hard times
I don't follow the yarchting press so have no idea whether her plight has made it into the mainstream yotty-headlines
It might be useful if that were so, even in these hard recession damaged times
Like you I have followed the restoration of SMM for a considerable period.
Given how many years she lay with the threat of the cutting torch hanging over her and then the speed at which the overhaul has been taking place, I think it is all the more remarkable
To think, she was still working as a motor vessel mothership on the North Atlantic as late as the early/mid 1990s
Once again she's looking like a swan
It would be terrific if the three sisters might yet meet again somewhere, some time
Jay Cresswell
Aberdeen
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Argus To Return

It looks as if Argus is to be reunited with her sisters Creoula and Santa Maria Manuela, so says a Portuguese news service headline
The chances of these three sisters even existing today are heavily stacked against them
That all are about to come back together again for the first time since the mid 70s, and in their home country, is remarkable
Even more remarkable is that, with Creoula restored, SMM being restored and the likelihood that Argus will be returned to her former glory from her current state as a Caribbean sailing cruise ship, Portugal will once again have a fleet of Grand Bankers ... but as ambassadors and not hard-bitten cod bangers
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
White Fleet

Thanks Werner
Had picked up on both and linked with Robert Simper of Sea Breezes. Pound to a penny he will head off with Argus's return home in the next issue
Pascoal also own Santa Maria Manuela
She is to be towed how ... according to Robert
Presumably in the spring, once the weather has improved and the vessel is made secure for the tow
Could never imagine this sort of thing happening in the UK!
Regards
Jay
 

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Thanks to Jay and Werner for the best news I've heard in awhile! In case you haven't already found it, here is the new blog for Argus/Polynesia:

http://polynesia2.blogspot.com/

Homepage for Pascoal:

http://www.pascoal.pt/

small blurb about SMM in the "Novidades" link

http://www.patricioclan.org/

great video of the SMM, in short version on this page, or try the link for the full 15 minute version.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Steve
Thanks for your note
Was aware of all the links (and some more) but had somehow missed the video element ... will go hunt for the longer version as you suggest
Best
Jay
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow, they're not hanging about
The tow home from Aruba to Portugal has started
Following from New Quest of the Schooner Argus website:

Mar.13th’09
- 0800 Pilot onboard/ Commenced towage
- 0850 Pilot Off / Commenced transit – expect transit time 21 days.

Fingers crossed for the old lady
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
REELING OFF THE MILES

Day March 18
16º 50’ 5’ ’ N 16 50 '5' N
60º 22’ W 60 º 22 'W
Velocidade: 7,2 nós Speed: 7.2 us

Dia 17 de Março Day March 17
16º 3,4’ N 16 3.4 'N
60º 7,3’ W 60 ° 7.3 'W

Dia 16 de Março Day March 16
15º 17’ N 15 º 17 'N
62º 55’ 7’’ W 62 ° 55 '7''W
Velocidade: 6,2 nós Speed: 6.2 us
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am intrigued by the virtual absence of chatter on this board about what is one of Europe's highest profile large commercial sailing vessel restoration projects.

Moreover, tomorrow (April 6) the Grand Banker Argus returns under tow to Portugal after a 30-something years absence and will also be fully restored. In about two years, tiny Portugal (pop just 10.6million) will have three sister Grand Bankers back in commission, giving young people and maybe even us older farts a chance to experience life aboard what was a remarkable class of mid 20th century commercial sailing ship
 

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Hello Jay,

The absence of Chatter might be because it seems that the White Fleet is largely unknown to the majority of sailing vessel enthusiasts. If it was not Alan Villiers who has written the book "The Quest of the ARGUS" the Portuguese cod fishing fleet would have vanished largely unnoticed.

In my list there are 47 3- and 4-masted schooners and 1 barquentine which sailed to the Grand Banks after 1945 until the last of them sailed in about 1970 (don’t have the correct date at hand). Although most of these vessels were lost at sea due to water ingress or fire there still was a remarkably big fleet in the 1960s.

It was in July 1998 that I saw SANTA MARIA MANUELA moored at a shipyard in São Jacinto and about a week later I bought the book "Faina Maior" at the Lisbon Maritime Museum. It was the second book on Portuguese Grand Bankers I’ve ever seen. From the Villiers book I knew many names of these vessels. Until recently googling for these names brought no results except for the 4 surving vessels although I used Portuguese expressions. It is just a little more than 2 years ago since Steve discovered the first blogspot on this subject. Only the blogs made it possible to gather more infos on these sailing vessels.

It seems like the interest in their own maritime heritage has grown a lot in Portugal (like in some other countries) over the past years. The now 3 Grand Bankers in Portugal will be in good hands. Of the 4 survivors I’ve missed the POLYNESIA / ARGUS so far (a good reason for my next trip to Portugal).

Regards,
Werner
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Werner
Interesting post
I read Villiers in the early 60s as a schoolboy and tracked the Portuguese White Fleet thereafter through the pages of Sea Breezes and so forth ... every now and again there would be a casualty ... yet another lost, often as not by fire
Saw a couple of them in the late 60s (Hortense & Luiza Ribau) and SkipperOwner (a long gone fishey journal) carried a major piece in 72 (the last season as I recall for Creoula), plus I unearthed useful material while an assistant editor of World Fishing in the 80s
I've never stopped tracking them since that first interest as a lad
What baffles me is that, while this is indeed a Portuguese fleet, it was also very closely linked with Newfoundland (St John's to this day has a strong recall of those times)
And yet the famous curator of the UK's National Maritime Museum, the late Basil Greenhill, ignored them in his writings. For sure he knew about them because he covered the last of the Canadian cod schooners in his writings
And Creoula plus Gazela Primeiro have been in maritime headlines often enough ... the former through sail trining events, the latter because she's a bit of a Philadelphia waterfront celebrity
It still intrigues me that the Portuguese had large sailing ships on the Atlantic in some number during the 1960s, petering out by 73
Cheers
Jay
 

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Portuguese White Fleet.

I had initially posted this in the wrong corner

Doubtless some of you are following the restoration of the Portuguese Grand Banks schooner Santa Maria Manuela ... sistership to Argus (now Polynesia) and Creoula

This is a remarkable project that will result in the three steel-hulled sisters dating from the 1930s still sailing

For anyone not familiar with the SMM project, there is a brilliant ... absolutely brilliant ... website devoted to the project http://santamariamanuela.blogspot.com/

Perhaps there should be a permanent link to the SMM site from Ships Nostalgia. This is maritime preservation of a fine sailing ship how it should be

I heartily recommend this site
I just found this video on You Tube...Go on You Tube and ask for... os solitarios homens dos doris...It will take you to a six part 1964 National Geographic special about the Potuguese White Fleet on the grand banks. It follows the Schooner Jose Alberto on it's trip.....You can't get this video anywhere as I have searched for it for years...It is spectacular so enjoy it.............BostonCod.
 

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Gazela Primeiro Update

Hi Werner
Interesting post
I read Villiers in the early 60s as a schoolboy and tracked the Portuguese White Fleet thereafter through the pages of Sea Breezes and so forth ... every now and again there would be a casualty ... yet another lost, often as not by fire
Saw a couple of them in the late 60s (Hortense & Luiza Ribau) and SkipperOwner (a long gone fishey journal) carried a major piece in 72 (the last season as I recall for Creoula), plus I unearthed useful material while an assistant editor of World Fishing in the 80s
I've never stopped tracking them since that first interest as a lad
What baffles me is that, while this is indeed a Portuguese fleet, it was also very closely linked with Newfoundland (St John's to this day has a strong recall of those times)
And yet the famous curator of the UK's National Maritime Museum, the late Basil Greenhill, ignored them in his writings. For sure he knew about them because he covered the last of the Canadian cod schooners in his writings
And Creoula plus Gazela Primeiro have been in maritime headlines often enough ... the former through sail trining events, the latter because she's a bit of a Philadelphia waterfront celebrity
It still intrigues me that the Portuguese had large sailing ships on the Atlantic in some number during the 1960s, petering out by 73
Cheers
Jay
Gazela Primeiro is not only a waterfront celebrity in Philadelphia, she is probably the oldest wooden-hulled sailing vessel still sailing. As I understand it, when philanthropist William Wikoff Smith purchased Gazela Primeriro in 1971 and donated her to the then Philadelphia Maritime Museum, it was for her to be a typical museum ship. However, since Smith and his friends got Gazela to Philadelphia by sailing her there, it must have occurred to someone back then that she might still be useful to sail. She has been sailing ever since as Philadelphia's tall ship and goodwill ambassador. For more details, see www.gazela.org.

I was in Portugal last week and had a chance to visit Argus/Polynesia, now docked in Ilhavo, and owned by Pascoal, the same company that is refurbishing Santa Maria Manuela. Although she has obviously seen better days, she is in good hands with Pascoal, and it is indeed amazing that there are now four Portuguese Grand Banks schooners that have survived the ravages of time and are in "good hands."
 

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Hi Jay,

Finally I made the trip to Spain and Portugal. The weather conditions were right this year (I do camping, kayaking, cycling and a bit of walking). At Marin in Galicia, Spain I was at the shipyard where SANTA MARIA MANUELA is fitted out for entering passenger service in January next year. Luckily I found a beach and a car park close by where I could launch my kayak. Aproaching from the water was the only way for taking pictures. Of course there are similar photos available in the web but for the moment mine were the most actual.

Next to her on the slip is the new SEA CLOUD HUSSAR under construction, a giant compared to SMM. Her launching is due this month and once completed she will be the biggest ship rigged vessel.

Two days later, on August 20th I made it to Aveiro. POLYNESIA was already visible from the motorway. There is easy access from the road but for an unspoiled view of the vessel my kayak had to be used again. POLYNESIA is moored right in front of her owners‘ business premises, wich actually is located in Gafanha da Nazaré. The only change since she left Aruba is a new coat of white paint which makes her look quite well from the distance. From a close view her neglect is evident, but at least she is in a better state than SMM was before her rebuild.

Once the ARGUS is reborn I guess that she will look quite similar to SMM which requires her totally rebuild anyway. When this will happen I don’t know, it might take some years.

At the Museu de Marinha in Lisbon I bought the 3 volums of
"A FIGUEIRA DA FOZ E A PESCA DO BACALHAU"
The books describe the cod fishing out of Figuera da Foz from 1933 to 1977. Lots of vessels from other ports are also mentioned as well as a short history of the beginning at about 1500. The books are written in Portuguese, not easy to read for a non Portuguese speaker.

Links to some of my pictures:
SMM:
http://img38.imageshack.us/my.php?image=santamariamanuelamaring.jpg
http://img38.imageshack.us/my.php?image=santamariamanuelamaringu.jpg

POLYNESIA:
http://img38.imageshack.us/my.php?image=polynesiagafanhadanazar.jpg
http://img38.imageshack.us/my.php?image=polynesiagafanhadanazarb.jpg
http://img38.imageshack.us/my.php?image=polynesiagafanhadanazarh.jpg

Cheers,
Werner
 

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Hi Eric,

I’ve seen GAZELA several times (Philadelphia, New York, Halifax).

GAZELA (currently her official name) is by far not the oldest wooden vessel still sailing. With most sources her year of built is given as 1883 which is true only at about 99.9%.

There was a GAZELA built in 1883, much smaller than the one we know today. GAZELA PRIMEIRO was built in 1900 by incorporating a symbolic piece of wood of the old GAZELA in the new structures. The reason for doing this was that at that time no newbuilds were allowed, rebuilds however could be done. Officially GAZELA PRIMEIRO was a rebuilt, in fact she was almost entirely new.

Unluckily the blog where I had the details from is no longer active but I’ve saved it’s contents regarding Gazela.

At least you can find a hint on her rebuilt and the whole cod fishing fleet here:
http://museumaritimo.cm-ilhavo.pt/frota/navios.aspx
Click on the small boxes with or without pictures for details and history of the vessels. In case parts of the boxes or the page selection (under the lowest right box) is obscured, play a little with the size or different folders. GAZELA for instance can be found on the sixth page.

Some of the oldest wooden sailing vessels still active are:
Germany:
RIGMOR, cutter of 1853
GRÖNLAND, topsail cutter of 1867 / 68
VANADIS, schooner of 1868

Denmark:
JENSINE, cutter of 1852

Norway:
ANNA ROGDE, schooner of 1868

Best regards,
Werner
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Guys
Haven't been on this thread for a while as no one seemed itnerested in the White Fleet ... but now it's clearly coming alive
The You-Tube footage is terrific ... thanks for the pointer
As for SMM ... the project is clearly motoring along and I guess that, once she's ready for work again, Argus will be stripped back and given the treatment too
All credit to the Portuguese ... they really do value their maritime heritage, and that clearly includes corporately, given Pascoal's huge role in the SMM and Argus projects

This could never have happened in the UK ... hell, we can't even preserve the Carrick and are messing up with Cutty Sark

Regards

Jay
 
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