25 September 2008

T/S Gunilla to visit Cork

Less than three weeks after the sad loss of our own national sail training ship Asgard II, which sank on September 11th off the coast of Brittany (see my entries from September 11th and September 13th), one of the most beautiful and impressive tall ships in northern Europe will stop in Ireland for a brief visit.

The T/S Gunilla, a three-masted barque and - with 49 metres length - Sweden's largest sail training vessel, is due to arrive on Monday (September 29th) in Cork.
She is expected to berth at Horgan's Quay, close to the Customs House.
This will give people the chance to have a good look at her, before she leaves the port again on October 5th and sails on to Spain. Later she is set to cross the Atlantic and head for the northern coast of South America, which will be an interesting voyage and challenging for the trainees.

Gunilla was originally launched as a three-master with triangular bermuda sails (see archive photo below left) at the Oskarshamn Shipyard in 1940 and built of pre-war top-quality steel, but was put into service only in 1945, after the end of the war. As a cargo vessel under several owners she sailed mainly along the Swedish coast and in the Baltic, carrying all kinds of goods, from cars and lead to wheat and mud.

In 1954 she was lengthened by 8 metres and became a motor ship. She continued operating as a regional trader until 1997, when she carried her last cargo of grain and was then sold to the Association MBV at Öckerö.
MBV
, which has 20 years of experience in sail training, created the Rederiaktiebolaget GUNILLA and transformed the ship into a modern sail training vessel for the 21st century.

She was re-launched in August 1999 as a three-masted barque and is now chartered by Den Seglande Gymnasieskolan (The Sailing High School) for about nine months of each year. This sailing school represents an educational programme which combines theory and practice in a new and exciting concept for students. The regular crew of 12 is augmented by 38 sailing students.

On the inside the barque is now a floating classroom, equipped with a sufficient number of computers connected to the ship's LAN, other teaching equipment and space for studies. She has all the modern navigational equipment money can buy, as well as an advanced communication system, including a satellite link.

But on the outside the T/S Gunilla is an eye-catching square-rigged vessel. Her original clipper bow has been restored and forms a beautiful ensemble together with the deck house and the poop. The classic rig, designed by Allan Palmer from Åland, is large (with 1040 sqm of sails) and well balanced with the ship’s lines.

This is a rare opportunity for sailors and tall ship enthusiasts to encounter this unique Swedish vessel. If you can manage to take a day off, then a trip to Cork's city port before October 5th is highly recommended. Cork citizens should also be aware of the rare visitor and make the barque and her crew welcome in Ireland's second-largest city.

The Emerald Islander


P.S. Philatelists might also be interested in the fact that the Royal Swedish Post Office issued a series of stamps depicting famous Swedish tall ships on May 15th of this year. The T/S Gunilla is one of the vessels honoured in this series, and it is possible that the purser or other members of the crew might carry some of these stamps.

1 comment:

philip. said...

Thanks for a lovely and very interesting visit to us at T/S Gunilla. And thank you for publishing our name out in the world it is most appreciated.

Godspeed
Philip Trainee of T/S Gunilla

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