A 120 year old vessel prepares to set sail

23 04 2012

Currently berthed at the Marina at Keppel Bay is a 120 year old historic ketch, the H/V Vega, which I first visited in early 2010 and following which I made several more visits during her subsequent stays in Singapore. The vessel, which is owned by Shane Granger and Meggi Macoun, is a beautifully restored top-sail ketch which was originally put to service as an open decked vessel that carried stone and slate along the tempestuous waters off the Norwegian coastline. I was able to drop by again yesterday to say hello to Shane and Meggi, who were in the midst of getting the H/V Vega ready for what has become an annual 6 month-long voyage of mercy which she is taken out on every April or so. The voyage is one that will take the Vega to the distant eastern distant reaches of the Indonesian archipelago with a cargo of much-needed items – medical supplies, farming tools, books, stationery and even sporting gear – a lifeline that many of the remote and often overlooked island communities especially in the Banda Sea area depend very much on.

A coil of rope. The H/V Vega is being prepared for what has become an annual mission that will take her to the Banda Sea.

The H/V Vega is a 120 year old ketch that has been very nicely restored and is now used to bring aid to remote island communities in the Indonesian Archipelago.

With most of the supplies they are carrying over from Singapore already packed in, what was left for Meggi and Shane and two volunteers to do was in packing in the last few items of aid they are carrying from Singapore, as well as getting the boat’s gear prepared for the voyage. The H/V Vega is due to set sail on 25 April 2012 for Jakarta where she will pick up some more supplies for the island communities. A peek below decks revealed the amount that is being carried. Having been designed as a high density cargo carrier, the Vega is limited not so much by the displacement but by its available volume and this was very evident below decks where the items the Vega is carrying seem to spill over into all available space that will possibly make the voyage a rather uncomfortable one for Shane, Meggi and two other crew members who are joining them. Besides the boxes of medical supplies, books and stationery, loose items such as CPUs, toys and sports gear were seen to have been stowed on sleeping berths as well as free spaces in the accommodation areas, including a mechanical sewing machine – once a common household items in Singapore that will be very useful to the island community that it is being delivered to, in the dining area.

Shortlink anchor chain being readied on deck.

Ropes being prepared deck seen through a portlight.

While the Vega has been able to obtain much of what is needed by the communities, as of yesterday, there are some small but essential items that she is short of (see also: http://sailvega.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/list-of-one-off-items-needed-by-the-communities-we-assist/):

  • 1 x 12 Vdc cool box for vaccine storage
  • Reading glasses
  • Battery for Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop
  • Battery for Dell XPS M1210 Battery type HF674
  • 200x Nail / Hand scrubbing brushes
  • 100x Plastic closeable hand soap carrier (should have a snap to keep it closed in bag)
  • Sharpening Stones
  • Thread and sewing needles
  • Guitar strings (Metal and Nylon)
  • Power cables for desktop computers
  • Cables between monitors and CPU for desktop computers

Anyone be in a position to help with any of the items may get in touch with Shane Granger.

The annual clutter in the living spaces - aid items stowed in the accommodation spaces for delivery to the island communities include books, stationery, medical supplies and a mechanical sewing machine.

Supplies stacked up on a bunk.

The view down into the forward accommodation space filled with medical supplies.

Used sports equipment and CPUs being packed.

More boxes to be brought below decks.

A cabin being partially used to stow supplies.

The forward accommodation space as seen from below decks.

Even Elmo is going along on the voyage.

A date with a 117 year old

6 11 2010

With a few friends, I paid a visit to the H/V Vega, which is in Singapore for a short stopover before heading off on 9 or 10 November 2010 to the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta, where she will be deployed as a press boat. It was my second visit to the historic top sail ketch which I first visited in March of this year. The ketch has been wonderfully restored in 1995 having been built in 1893 as a stone carrying vessel for voyages in the harsh climes of the North Sea and in the Arctic and is a marvel of 19th century craftsmanship and certainly a joy to wander around and photograph.

I love the old sailing ships for the rigging that seems to clutter the main deck.

The Vega is a very photogenic boat and is a joy to photograph.

During this visit, we had the opportunity to have a chat with the very friendly owner and master of the ketch, Captain Shane Granger and his wife Maggie (who incidentally was responsible for the wonderfully designed cabins below deck). Captain Shane was able to share with us some of the experiences in carrying out the humanitarian aid work that the magnificent vessel is engaged in, a lot of it in the outer and remote reaches of the Indonesian Archipelago – places that are ignored and often forgotten by the authorities and mainstream aid organisations.

The very affable Captain Shane Granger, owner and master of the Vega.

Another view of the rigging.

Among the stories that Captain Shane shared was how the gift of very simple things that we take for granted can transform the lives of the inhabitants of the remote islands. With a gift of pencils and erasers, children were able to have the tools necessary to learn to write, where they had been taught to do so previously on a slate that was the moistened sandy ground beneath them. The erasers had been particularly treasured by the teacher, as it meant that exercise books which were in short supply could be reused by erasing the deliberate light scribbles of the children on the pages of the books.

The not so friendly ship's cat eyeing the camera suspiciously.

Besides school supplies, the Vega also delivers aid in other forms such as much needed medical supplies once a year to her regular destinations around the far east of the Indonesian Archipelago. She was able to receive sponsorship for some of this and among the benefactors were Jotun Paints in Singapore and hopes to continue the good work with further sponsorship. More information on the Vega can be found at her website, as well as on my previous post on her. Captain Shane can be contacted at the Vega’s email address. The Vega is due back in Singapore in April of 2011.

Old tools including a traditional caulking tool at the bottom - traditional methods and materials are used in the upkeep of the ketch.

The ketch's anchor.

A pirate awaits the visitor below decks.

The visit provide some of my friends the opportunity to climb up the mast ... well part of the way at least ...

The Vega: A historical top sail ketch built in 1893

19 04 2010

I had the opportunity of going onboard a delightful little ketch, the Vega, at the recently concluded Boat Asia 2010. The pictures I have seen of the Vega, which is 117 year old, in full sail, conjures up images of salt seasoned seamen in oilskins braving the elements and the tempestuous seas, but seeing it at berth among the luxury cabin cruisers on display at  the boat show, the trimaran mega yacht White Rabbit Echo and the under construction Reflections at Keppel Bay forming the backdrop, seemed somewhat surreal.

The Vega is a historical ketch built in Norway in 1893.

The Vega's bow.

The Vega was restored in 1995 and flies the Maltese Flag.

The Vega, with its hull of teak, oak and pine, which was built originally as an open decked stone and slate carrier in 1893 in Hardanger, Norway, and rebuilt in 1905, trading on routes that took it along the coast of Norway and Sweden, is in excellent condition, having been restored in Denmark in 1995. A deck has been added and accommodation designed by the owner’s wife has been placed in what were the cargo holds, transforming the underdeck area into a delightful and cosy living space.

Principal Particulars of the Vega.

The Vega as she was as a top sail ketch (Source. http://www.sailvega.com).

The Vega is currently being put to a noble cause and is involved in humanitarian missions, delivering food and medical supplies to the less accessible places such as the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea during the aftermath of the Tsunami, and is said to sail 10,000 nautical miles annually. It is currently crewed by her owner Captain Shane Granger, his wife and another crew member. More information on the Vega and her missions can be found at her website.

The Vega in full sail.

The Vega is used to deliver humanitarian aid to hard to access areas in need, such as in the Solomon Islands in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami.

Blocks and tackle.

A tender carried at the stern.

Contributions for the upkeep and missions the Vega are involved in are most welcomed.

Throttle control.

The helm.

More tackle ...

The tool rack.


The galley.

Implements of the galley.

Glasses on the rack.

Sundries ...

The fo'c'sle store / accommodation.

Cosy and comfortable Captain's quarters aft of the engine room.

The Heads.

View of the Ketch at berth.

Main deck of the ketch.