The romance of the sea

Ships old and new

There is nothing more magnificent than seeing a sailing ship in full sail, something that has captivated me since my first encounter with the silhouette of a brig used as the logo of the Old Spice brand of men’s toiletries. Rigged sailing ships are quite rarely seen these days, with sail having given way to steam and then diesel for more than a century, and they are always something that I try not to miss. In the space of a few short months, we in Singapore are actually quite fortunate to see four beautiful examples, a tall ship, two ketches and a replica of a 9th century Arab dhow. On the other hand, their steel hulled cousins are quite common in Singapore, being one of the busiest ports in the world, and they are all too common I guess, so much so that we don’t bat an eyelid on seeing them anchored off our shores or navigating through a channel. There are a few amongst them that I have my own encounters with as well, some of which are featured on this page together with their fully rigged cousins. They have their charms as well, some with fine and graceful lines which allow them to cut through the waves, others with unique features … charms of a woman some may say, after all, a ship is called a “she”. This brings to mind the big question that begs an answer: Why is a ship a “she”? There are of course many explanations: some which trace this back to the influence of language on the gender of words, some which are rather amusing. My favourite is the one that is offered by the late Admiral Chester W. Nimitz: “A ship is always referred to as ‘she’ because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.” There is a variation on this that dates back to the days of sail which goes: “A ship is a she because it costs more to fit her out with her adornments than the worth of what is under the adornments”. Whatever it is, it is as nice to appreciate a beautiful ship as it is a beautiful lady.

The Russian Mechant Navy Tall Ship STS Pallada

The Pallada is the fastest Tall Ship with a maximum speed of 18.7 knots under sails and was built in 1989 by Stocznia Gdańska. The 106m ship has a main mast of 49.5 metres and is named after the Greek goddess Pallas Athena. She has 26 sails with a total area of 2771 square metres.

There would certainly have been a mutiny on this Bounty …

A cruise around Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong in the company of four lovely ladies.

The Vega: A historical top sail ketch built in 1893

The Vega is a 117 year old ketch with a hull of teak, oak and pine, built originally as an open decked stone and slate carrier in 1893 in Hardanger, Norway, and rebuilt in 1905 and restored in Denmark in 1995. She is now used in humanitarian missions in the region.

A second date with the 117 year old Vega

A second visit to the Vega, this time at Raffles Marina on 5 Nov 2010, with more information on the humanitarian missions she is involved in.

The Cariad: photographs aboard another historical top sail ketch, built in 1896

The Cariad, a racing ketch, was built by Summers & Payne in Southampton for a Lord Dunraven in 1896. She had a full restoration in Korat, Thailand. Designed by A. E. Payne, she has an length overall of 118 feet.

Singapore welcomes the Jewel of Muscat

The 18 metre replica of a 9th century dhow, a gift from Oman to Singapore has been constructed without the use of nails, with planks held together with coconut fibre, and protected by goat fat mixed with lime. She would be the centrepiece of Resorts World Sentosa’s Maritime Xperiential Museum scheduled to open in 2011.

An adventure on the MV Kimanis in the 1970s

A ten year old’s experience onboard a cargo liner from the old school in 1975 on a voyage to Port Swettenham.

The Star Ferry

Where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong.

A ship of the future: Wing-In Ground Effect Craft

Fancy travelling at speeds close to 100 knots over the water?

The RSS Fearless: the first indigenously designed warship

Background on the 55 metre waterjet propelled Patrol Vessel in service with the Republic of Singapore Navy

Life in the ‘fast-lane’: on the vehicle deck of a RORO Ship

A visit to the vehicle decks of the RORO ship the Ville de Bordeaux in St. Nazaire. The Ville de Bordeaux is the first ship that is built to transport airplane parts and can also be adapted to carry vehicular cargo.

The Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas

A half day visit onboard the 70000 GT Legend of the Seas.

The ITS San Giusto (Italian Navy LPD)

A quick visit to the flight deck of an Italian Naval Ship, the ITS San Giusto – a LPD with an island superstructure at her berth along the old Harbourfront Centre (now VivoCity in 2001).

A visit to the French Naval Ship Mistral (LPH) in 2011

A guided walk around the Mistral, through the Bridge, Helo Control and Ops Rooms, the Flight Deck, the Hangar, the Hospital, the Vehicle Decks and the Dockwell.

The Titanic at the ArtScience Museum

A guided tour of the wonderful Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the ArtScience Musuem in Singapore. Visitors get to step right onboard and experience what it was like onboard and a bonus meeting with ‘Capt. Smith’.

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