Bessie Ellen Winter 1910 Sail Cargo

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As most of us are preparing for the mad Christmas mayhem during the months of December,  I took the opportunity to look back through Bessie Ellen’s old log books to see what was going on in 1910. Although this is the season of good cheer and all that, this book shows our little ship plying her trade through the Celtic sea to Cornwall.

An excerpt from 106 years ago reads:

’30/11/1910 …for the Shipper Acton’s of Kinsale, Eire, Bessie Ellen loaded 95 ton of oats for a Mr Tonkin of Penzance, arriving 2nd December 1910.’ Judging by the tonnage, I would imagine that the cargo was loaded into sacks rather than as a bulk cargo. Oats are a relatively light cereal cargo and in damp weather (rain, snow) or heavy seas, the cargo must be protected from moisture, since wetting or damp may ruin the consignment. I have no record of the weather that year, but it seems the ship made a slow passage down to Penzance, the distance being only 200NM. Looking at the timing of the passage, perhaps she was up against prevailing SW’lies that are the norm at this time of year.

The above entry for cargo shows Bessie Ellen loading 113 tons of copper ore in Penzance for the shipper Bennello, for a Willam Forbes, the consignee to be discharged in Swansea.

Nowadays with the fantastic web, we can find out so much, and maybe, just maybe, the copper was for the descendants of William Forbes, 1756.  The son of an Aberdeen merchant, he began work as a coppersmith and won a government contract to sheath ships’ hulls in copper. With the fortune he made (equivalent to over $1 billion in today’s terms), he purchased the estates of Callendar and Linlithgow near Falkirk.

Back to our Bessie Ellen. She remained in Penzance for 28 days, perhaps loading the ore, or the Master, John Chichester returning home to Braunton to spend Christmas with his family before sailing from Penzance on 30th December, arriving in Swansea for discharging on 1st January 2011.

Although the voyages were not that fast, they were pretty reliable and at no cost to the environment. The wind was free, and still is, and whilst we may not carry copper or oats these days, we are fully aware of our impact on our oceans and our voyages reflect that.  Today we support and sponsor many sail cargo initiatives focussed on sustainable shipping, community and a fair economy, bringing back the use of our free wind.

Bessie Ellen black and white

 New Dawn Traders is co-creating the Sail Cargo Alliance (SCA) to support a new and growing community interested in shipping ethical cargo under sail. Beyond building viable trade for these sailing vessels, the SCA is committed to setting the highest standards for ethics across the supply chain. This is an alliance of ship owners, brokers, producers and anyone interested in working together in a healthy transport culture.

If you are looking for that elusive gift for someone this Christmas, there can be nothing more festive than a bottle of NEW DAWN rum – with proceeds going toward supporting this worthwhile cause.

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Goodbye Caledonia

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Photo: G Sunter

Today, Bessie Ellen safely arrived to her old home here in Logstor, Vesthimmerland, after a voyage of many parts. Our last voyage crew of the season joined their ship up near Fort William for a week passing through the Caledonian Canal, then across the North Sea, finally entering the Limfjord to depart at Aalborg

The first day started with incredible rain, so wet we were all soaked by lunch.  As the day wore on, the highlands lit up with glorious sunshine for us to pass the 9 locks of Neptunes Staircase to the canal proper.  A fast transit meant Bessie Ellen was able to get through Loch Lochy (Had the Scots run out of names when naming this one?)to end the day at Laggan under the emerald hills.  Despite a few midges the night was still and the voyage crew relaxed into the roll of handling the ship.  Day 2 .  Wound our way through the canal and into the mystical Loch Oich(see photo )a day so still the reflections of mountains and water made it hard to navigate.  A lunchtime descent at Fort Augustus and across Loch Ness  – no monster to be seen anywhere in the hot sunshine.  We are enjoying ourselves on the canal and may retire from the sea – so relaxing.

Day 3 Inverness and the call of the sea.  Out we shot into the moray Firth  setting sail passed the bridge the horizon stretched away to the east under clear skies.  Bottlenose dolphin and their young joined us to say goodbye to Bessie Ellen.  The night passed mostly under sail as the lights of old herring ports twinkled out to Starboard, Macduff, Buckie Portsoy, all quiet in the warm night.  By daybreak the wind had increased to 30 knots and steering was pulling the ship to weather so the mizzen and flying jib came down.  On she rolled – 8.5 knots ripping along, sweeping past oil rigs, not using a drop of their black blood to move her.  At night the structures appear as  futuristic cities, vast and imposing, feeding off the earth.  Onwards we sailed until the wind died and the vessel became shrouded in fog.  Thick fog, so thick the navigation lamps lit up the night, our world became small and tense, looking out for other ships also   creeping towards new harbours.

With no wind at all the engine was started, places to go, timetables to keep and planes to catch and with 55NM to go the wind just could not fill the sails enough.

Day 5 Dawn broke and the fog started to lift creating pastel skies you seem to get in the East.  Nothing like an island dawn – still and silent.  A low coastline emerged then the chimneys and windmills of Thyboron broke the skyline.  Now we were in the land of shallow water and sand, not deep water and rocks of which I am so used to.  With voyage crew steering, told to stay inside the channel marks or we will go aground – and no tides here to help you out.  The sun was bright now – and hot! All sails were set and the crew tacked up Nissum Breeding and on through the bridge, reaching at 6.0kts towards the high bridge connecting Mors to the mainland.  Uneasy with the height of bridge and mast – just doesn’t look 29 M!! the ship falls silent – expecting to touch at any time.  Then we are through with a big sigh and headed for Nykobing for the night.  Our voyage crew have sailed all day, and as the sun sets our voyage seems to have come to an end although still 14 nm further to our departure destination it seems fitting to relax and remind ourselves of the past week with so many parts.

The ship is quite now, all ready for the next band of merry souls – here for racing the Limfjord with a fleet of traditional sails.  Here’s to fair winds boy’s!

Feis Ile with Bessie Ellen – Festival Programme

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Islay Whisky Festival 2016 – BOOK HERE

 

After several successful voyages to the Islay Music and Malt Festival the tall ship Bessie Ellen has again scheduled a trip to coincide with the 2016 event commencing 21st May until 29th May 2016. This year Nikki the Captain and owner would like to extend a warm welcome to your Whisky club and invite members to come aboard and get hands on sailing a traditional sailing ship as well as sampling some of the best Island malts made.

Possible Itinerary ( subject to weather )

 

Day 1

Join your ship Bessie Ellen 16.00 Oban North pier. After a Highland tea set sail for Loch na Cille in the Sound of Jura, passing the famous whirlpool of Coryvreckan. Anchor over night.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, visit the mediaeval chapel at Keills to see the remarkable collection of ancient grave slabs within. Back aboard help set sails for a gentle sail up the stunning sound of Islay to anchor in Loch Tarbert, Jura. Here you will see seals, red deer, eagles and even wild goats. View the spectacular raised beaches, 15 m above sea level that remain after 10,000 years. Dinner will be at anchor, along with a whisky tasting later on.

Day 3

A short sail to Port Bunnahabain on Islay for the Caol Ila open day. Local music, oyster stands and of course the definitive Caolo Ila tasting tours throughout the day. For those that still have the energy, a taxi will take you to the Ceilidh where local dancers perform reels, tales from the Isle and you can join in and Scottish dance the night away in Port Ellen’s Ramsay Hall. Return to the ship in Port Ellen.

Day 4

A leisurely start to your day, with a choice to sail or walk to Laphroag Distillery. This original distillery produces one of the most peated of all malts, and today is open to the public for tastings along with local music and food. Program to follow. A late evening sail will take you round the East of the Island to anchor at Aros Bay and a traditional dinner of Highland food. Local seafood, venison and a highland whisky dessert will be on the menu tonight.

Day 5

A mid- morning start and leave Islay behind for a day, sailing to Colonsay and Oronsay. Here we hope to see dolphin and Minke whales. The ship will berth at Scalasaig in the evening and there will be a chance to walk over the island to the stunning bay of Kilchatten before returning for a dinner aboard with music and song.

Day 6

Morning tour is booked with Kevin, local island entrepreneur and enthusiast who once owned the hotel here. Colonsay is home to Kiloran Gardens an extensive woodland featuring big-leaved rhododendrons and a wild yet tended feel. In the bay nearby there are the remains of a Viking grave where a skeleton of a man and his horse amongst various artifacts were discovered. On your return, you will join the ship for lunch under sail to visit the small ancient monastery on Oronsay. For those that enjoy foraging, a prawn catching party will try for tonight’s supper. Return to Scalasaig for a pub evening in the hotel with beers and ales produced on the island.

Day 7

Back to Islay and your captains favourite, the Bunnahabain distillery. Today, the distillery manager Andrew Brown talks us through a tasting of 5 specially selected whiskies. You will have a full distillery tour and a chance to buy some of the best and smoothest drams. Sail to Ardbeg.  Tonight we treat you to a whisky nosing with whisky experts Eddie and Jo from the Whisky Lounge.

Day 8

The finale of the Feis Ile today and the whisky of the day is Ardbeg, another heavily peated whisky, but one of the oldest distilleries on the island. Join in the fun and games and tonight you get the opportunity to win a Bowmore Tempest single malt aboard the Bessie Ellen.

Day 9

Your final morning aboard your ship. Disembark from 10.00 at Port Ellen. You may return from either Port Askaig by ferry to Oban, Port Ellen for Kennacraig or alternatively fly from Islay to Glasgow direct.

 

The Captain and crew wish you bon voyage.

Soraidh Hebrides

Farewell to the Hebrides and all the other magical places we have been this summer.  Although the weather was not perfect, all our guests company made up for the rain with smiles and good humour.  Oban our host port has been more than welcoming and we say goodbye to all friends here.  It somewhat feels more like home than Cornwall.

At 1700 this afternoon, Bessie Ellen will set off to home waters of the Westcountry where we will stop in Fowey for the shipyard before heading on down to Northern Spain for some late summer sun.  The forecast is not looking great even now, heavy rain later tonight and winds from the South West which makes sailing hard given that we only have six days!  Never mind, what ever happens we always have a good adventure.

 

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Off to St Kilda

All crew reported back aboard.  The last of the stores are stowed and the weather is looking like it may be a bit kinder to us this time.

Our aim? To get to Kilda under sail and as of the forecast this morning I think we will make it this time.  The ship will  anchor overnight in Tobermory before heading off towards Castlebay on Barra.  The plan seems to be at the moment, a morning in Barra before heading off early afternoon the 68NM to St Kilda.  The window is short, Tuesday and early Wednesday before the weather starts to turn against our favour again.

This year it seems that few of the charter vessels here have managed many voyages out here as the weather has been so dreadful. Never mind, the beauty of Scotland is that is is fantastic in amy weather and always a sheltered haven to hide in.

Photos from Hirta I hope later in the week.4a2ba0_e3b3fd1a2eca4bc0b158102f78be16ec.jpg_srz_980_496_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Tempted by Tall Ships?

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Irene is heading for Belfast’s maritime event of the year and you could be there too.
For three days, Irene will join in the celebrations for the gathering of Tall Ships before they set sail on a voyage to Norway.

If you have never experienced the sight of these vessels under sail now is your chance. You can stay aboard in comfort and assist the crew to haul sails and steer. Our wonderful chef, Rachel will provide you with exquisite meals and home baking to keep you fuelled up

Ireland’s hospitality is renowned and guaranteed you will find music, arts and song wherever you explore.

If you are interested in learning more, or wish to book this voyage, click here for more details.

Last minute spring deal

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Now only £290  24 April –
Sun 26 April, Falmouth – Falmouth

Take one of the best sailing areas in Cornwall, add a few ounces of sunshine, a 100 tons of tall ship a dose of fresh air along with  a pinch of salt water and stir for a great weekend afloat.

Join me, Nikki and my crew as we get going into the new sailing season and summer. This weekend we have special guest and mariner Topsy Toner who will be telling stories and explaining the not so dark art of celestial navigation.

Navigation using planets and stars is as old as ancient Greece, but with the arrival of GPS and the more recent computerised navigation software we are finding the more traditional methods of navigating using a sextant to position fix are becoming replaced by newer and quicker technology.

Topsy will be explaining the uses of the sextant and how it works along with practical demonstrations and classes during the day. Throughout the evening he will go through some of the finer points and hold discussions around the table. The classes are not compulsory and will run for those of you who are interested alongside your traditional sailing experience aboard Bessie Ellen.

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Apart from teaching, Topsy is also a master of the Mandolin and Banjo, so do bring your instruments to join our evening sessions.

For more information or to book in click HERE

 

New Job Listing

 

DSCF0173JOB LISTING: MATE

First Mate Position Minimum Qualifications Required:
  • Yachtmaster Coastal Commercially endorsed.
  • STCW 95
  • Power Boat Level 2
  • Diesel Engine Maintenance

Applicants should hold a recent ENG1 and a CRB certificate.

Both Bessie Ellen & Irene has a vacancy for a Mate for the 2015 charter season.

The posting will run from January to September in UK Coastal waters including Scotland with the possibility of a placement extending to a winter in Canary Islands.

You must be a team player with and a positive attitude, strong work ethic and outstanding people and leadership skills.  An interest into traditional vessels and rigging is important.

Crewing a tall ship is rewarding but very demanding. The applicant must be prepared to work regulation hours performing a wide variety of tasks under conditions which are sometimes physically and mentally challenging, and the work must be done with a smile on your face.

You must be willing and able to interact with passengers, as well as your shipmates, in a positive and appropriate fashion.

You will have a wide range of sailing experience on various types of vessels with a good knowledge of sailing techniques under all weather conditions both inshore and offshore.

Sail handling and navigation experience

 

Please apply by email along with a current C.V including references to:

nikki@bessie-ellen.com

Christmas Fair

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Today  we get a day out and away from our desk.  We are off to a Cornish Christmas fair, helping to support local business and encourage you to buy local.  It’s  important you know.  

Drop in and catch the crew at Pencarrow Christmas craft fair. Bring the kids, learn how to tie ‪‎monkey fist‬ and buy your loved one the best christmas present, a day sail on Bessie Ellen and Irene, Sailing Ketch. 1907. Oh and get free gold coins!

Gift vouchers are available for Easter day sails from Fowey or summer sailing in Mounts Bay from Newlyn in association with Eat Drink Sleep hotel chain at The Old Coast Guard to include a lobster lunch. bessie-ellen.com/our-voyages/book-a-voyage/