The wooden deck of the traditional tall ship, Roald Amundsen, was buzzing with activity and stories of sheer adventure when sailors welcomed onboard Governor Boyd McCleary and Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour last evening, January 16.
Docked briefly at Port Purcell, the German flag carrier entered BVI waters on January 6 on its inaugural visit with 38 persons onboard, including veteran seafarers and trainees in search of something new.
"Everything is done by hand," said German native, Annette Peterson who is with the ship for the first time.
"There are no buttons that you can press and things happen like on the modern ships," she added.
The Roald Amundsen docked at Port Purcell.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Her most memorable task on the ship is scaling the ship's mast some 30 metres above water.
Annette's husband, Thomas enjoys the camaraderie shared between persons who are considered seasoned sailors and those who are now learning to sail.
"I would not trade this in for anything. I will be back. This is my first time and I have worked with kids who are young as 14 and we are both trying to learning the sails and the ship's operations," Thomas stated.
Gabby Groth has been on five voyages with the ship and plans to return for her sixth next year.
"It has a very special spirit and being in the BVI is simply magical. The island is much cooler than I expected and offers a great escape from the winter we have now back in Germany. The places that I have visited so far are breathtaking. I plan to continue visiting the BVI for many years to come," a smiling Groth related.
The ship is captained by Ulrich Biekmann, who is regular pilot in Germany when he is not vacationing on the Roald Amundsen. He is one of 10 captains.
"We arrived 10 days ago and we are impressed. We are very lucky to be here in the BVI with our old traditional boat; the type you see in the old pirate movies. The good thing on this boat is that we have a number of experienced sailors and we have survived several times bad weather," Biekmann stated.
Biekmann spent time explaining various operations of the boat to Governor McCleary and Minister Pickering. Also present were Mr. David Morris, Acting Commissioner of Police; Astrid Wenzke, Germany's Honorary Consul for the BVI; and staff from the BVI Ports Authority.
Captain Biekmann said that the public is invited to visit the ship on Sunday, January 20 between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm at the cruise pier in Road Town.
The ship will depart for Bermuda on January 25.
About The Ship
Initially designed as deep sea fish lugger, the hull was built in 1952 and directly equipped to service the military fleet of former East Germany. When the Berlin Wall came down, history rendered her obsolete. Discovered by a handful of enthusiasts in Wolgast in 1992, she was converted and rigged as a traditional brig - a tall ship intended for sail training.