The Eye of the Wind.

By Peter Andrews, © 1998.

Ploughing through the mid Atlantic, somewhere between Puerto Rico and Bermuda, June 1992.

After many years absence from Australian waters, the 'Eye of the Wind' sailed into my home town of Wollongong in early January 1998. The ship which was used in movies such as 'Blue Lagoon' and 'White Squall', was brought up onto the slipway for regular maintenance and preparation for the Tall Ships Race from Sydney to Hobart on the following Australia Day.
 
Built in 1911 by C. Lühring of Brake, West Germany and originally called 'Friedrich', for twenty two years she sailed from Hamburg to ports in Argentina carrying salt, then onto Cornwall in Britain with hides and back to Hamburg with a load of china clay. In 1923 she was sold to a Swedish company, renamed 'Mary' and worked the Baltic and North Seas' under a Swedish flag for the next fifty or so years.
 

The 'Eye of the Wind' alongside at the National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour Sydney in January 1998.
During this period and as time passed, her sailing rig was gradually reduced as responsibility to move cargo was transferred to the ship's first engine, which was fitted in 1926. In 1969, a fire in the engine room destroyed the wheel house and poop deck and from this point she sat in Gothenburg until 1973 when found by her current owners. Within six months, the engine was rebuilt, the poop deck was replaced and hull plating that was buckled from the fire, was also replaced. This work was sufficient to ensure a safe passage across the North Sea, motoring under her own power to Faversham at the mouth of the Thames, where full restoration back to a beautiful sailing ship was completed.
 
The first voyage as the 'Eye of the Wind' was a circumnavigation of the globe, which was completed in 1978 at Plymouth. She then took part as the flagship of 'Operation Drake' for the next two years, under the patronage of HRH Prince Charles. This round the world scientific expedition involved participation of around four hundred youth from twenty seven nations. The ship was then used in four feature films before becoming a participant in the First Fleet Re-enactment in 1988. It was some time in 1990 when the ship was also in Wollongong for maintenance and while in this part of the world, she sailed as far as Pitcairn Island, the waters and islands around New Guinea, and Tasmania during the warmer months.
 

In the mid Atlantic between Puerto Rico and Bermuda, June 1992.
 
In October 1991, the 'Eye of the Wind' departed our shores, sailing first to Auckland and on across the Pacific to round Cape Horn with 'Søren Larsen'. From the Horn up to the Falklands, Montevideo and eventually to Lisbon Portugal, she joined up with a large fleet of Tall ships which had sailed down from various European ports for the Columbus' 92 Quincentenary. This fleet joined up with another fleet at Cadiz in Spain that had come from the Mediterranean and beyond the Suez. The combined fleet then set off in the wake of Columbus in a tall ships race to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Beyond San Juan, the fleet had increased its size again when more ships from the Americas joined in for the voyage to New York. By this time the number of ships was somewhere past the two hundred mark and their entrance to New York Harbour through the fog was a sight to behold. The fleet continued on to Boston and from there was another tall ships race across the North Atlantic to Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The "Eye" at anchor off Provincetown, July 1992.
After the Columbus voyages in 1992, the 'Eye of the Wind' sailed around the British Isles, the Caribbean, Bermuda and back to the New England shores around Boston before making her way across the Atlantic again to call into a host of European ports and participate in a couple of tall ship races. She also sailed down to Malta in the Mediterranean and South Africa to take part in the production of 'White Squall'. Her voyage back to Australia was via the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal -- calling into the Galapagos and Easter Islands, Pitcairn, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu before arriving in Cairns on October 1997 after six years absence.

Just on the way back into the water after two weeks on the Wollongong Harbour slip, January 1998.

From one port to the next and not only with the 'Eye of the Wind' but any for any tall ship that still gets around, the stories, people, the adventure, all bind together into wonderful and magnificent experiences. Being fortunate to sail on the 'Eye of the Wind' from San Juan to Boston via Bermuda and New York during the Columbus voyage's, the adventure was incredible. In San Juan on the night before we sailed, five hundred thousand people, families with their children, some, just infants clogged the streets and the waterfront to watch a fireworks display that would rival any in world. To get back to our ship, we had to jump from one ship to another; climb fences, buildings; and walk along high narrow walls with the harbour on one side, a sea of people on the other. Just this alone was enough to attract a spontaneous applause from the crowd as anything beyond the ordinary would on this occasion. It was a an event one could never forget, but only one out of many in the life of a tall ship.

After a rough night off Bermuda, June 1992.

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Peter Andrews ©1998. All Rights Reserved. 

     

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