Blyth’s own tall ship – Williams 11 – is almost set for its first big adventure.
After years of repairs, restoration work and crew training, the ship is almost ready to set off on its round Britain voyage on March 16.
That was the message from Clive Grey, chief executive of the Blyth Tall Ships charity project, told a meeting of sponsors, potential sponsors and councillors from both local and county councils.
If that trip is successful, a voyage to the Arctic is planned for June. This will go from Blyth to Bergen in Norway, on to the Arctic and back.
However, there was some not so good news regarding the trip to the Antarctic planned for later this year. The proposed trip following in the route of the original Williams, built in Blyth and skippered by Seaton Sluice-born William Smith, that discovered the Antarctic land mass in 1819, will not now go ahead until next year.
“We need to fully train 160 crew for the Antarctic trip as the whole thing will be done in several legs which will involve several crew changes before the final crew is chosen to sail on to the Antarctic,” said Clive.
“You just cannot say we are off to the Antarctic, jump on board and sail off into the sunset. The whole thing needs to be planned to the minute detail. The route, stop-offs for crew changes, food and water supplies and a host of other things.”
The project is short of several thousand pounds to finally bring the boat up to specification.
“We need a new navigation system,” said Clive. “That alone will cost £10,000, a very large but necessary investment.”
Other supplies are also needed, including copies of paper charts, vital in case the electronic systems fail, waterproof clothing andfood.
The cost of the round Britain trip works out at £750 and the Arctic trip is £1,000.
Clive said: “We are looking for sponsors for the young people were are hoping to take on these trips. We still have places available for the trip and anyone interested in joining or sponsoring someone should contact us as soon as possible.”