We welcome impressive topsail schooner Johanna Lucretia to our fleet of traditional wooden boats. As she is currently the only UK flagged topsail schooner in sail training, she is guaranteed to draw attention wherever she goes.
Like our other vessels, Johanna Lucretia is rigged traditionally, with lots of sheets (ropes) to pull for everyone on board and the wide array of sails means that there is plenty for everyone to get involved to sail the boat well. The topsail schooner is arguably one of the most versatile of all sailing rig types, being able to sail quickly close to the wind with her fore-and-aft sails like our other vessels, but also has excellent downwind performance with a square topsail and course. Her spacious decks are ideal for group activities, and her large size, sheltered cockpit and high freeboard mean beneficiaries feel safe at sea. Below deck, she is comfortable and cosy.
Built in 1945 at the Rhoose shipyard in Ghent, Belgium as a fishing vessel, she was never used for this purpose and laid as a completed hull and deck for several years and was converted for recreational use, under the Dutch flag in 1954. She is no stranger to Plymouth waters having been purchased by Mrs Heather Henning in 1989 who registered her as a British vessel with a home port of Plymouth. In 1991/1992 she was refitted to her present configuration. She has had only a handful of owners over the years, and has an interesting history, including a few film and television appearances. In 1978 she took the part of the Medusa in British spy thriller The Riddle of the Sands, set in 1901 it follows the efforts of two English yachtsmen to avert a plot by Germany to launch a military seaborne invasion of England. In 2006 she features in the film Amazing Grace, a drama about William Wilberforce’s campaign to end the slave trade. She also starred in the Irish reality TV show Cabin Fever in 2003, where she replaced the original Cabin Fever ship after it ran aground off Tory Island.
We have spent over a year fundraising for the new boat and raised the purchase price through a mix of charitable donations, including a generous donation from the Peter Harrison Foundation, bequests and much valued support from individual donors, for which we are extremely grateful.
Throughout the autumn and winter Johanna Lucretia will undertake sea trials and staff training, as well as maintenance work, and will commence youth sail training in spring 2019. She will be available for commercial and private charters and we will be running a few voyages during the season for adults, proceeds of which will support the Trust’s charitable activities.
Founder trustee Dick Lloyd says “The addition of Johanna Lucretia to the Trust’s fleet of wooden gaff rigged boats is an exciting step in providing a vessel with a different rig to handle and new skills to learn. Ultimately, Johanna Lucretia will also be capable of undertaking voyages further afield, opening new horizons and thereby expanding the maritime education of the beneficiaries who sail on her. She will be a great addition in support of the work that the Trust does through its highly qualified and motivated team of sea staff with the young people who are so keen to get afloat, and thereby expanding the work that the Trust has been engaged in for 45 years.”