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T Clewring - Cruising

Bay of Biscay waters - another casualty as teenagers lose mast

by This is Plymouth/Sail-World Cruising on 30 Oct 2010
Chopin under sail - now lost a mast .. .

Waters around the Bay of Biscay are getting pretty busy with disabled boats and their rescuers at the moment.

Not only is there Tony Bullimore's catamaran The Spirit of Antigua capsized and being guarded by the Dutch Navy until a salvage team arrives, but there's also a tall ship with a bunch of Polish teens on board which has lost one of its masts.


The young sailors on the Frederyk Chopin left Plymouth earlier in the week but gale force winds and heavy seas have caused the ship to lose one of its masts about 100 miles south west of the Isles of Scilly.

The vessel has lost its foremast, according to reports, and there have been concerns the second mast is in danger of being lost on the 180ft long ship.

The Coastguard said no injuries had been reported among the 47 teenagers and crew. Commercial and merchant vessels were reported to be ‘on their way’ at lunchtime.

An aircraft is also assisting – but they are not being evacuated, said Falmouth Coastguard.

The Coastguard also said the ship’s captain has reported that ‘everyone is safe’ and that they are requesting a tow.

Royal Navy search and rescue helicopters from Cornwall have also been sent today to help.

Arrangements are being put in place to attempt to tow the vessel to safety and Culdrose’s helicopter Rescue 193 is enroute with a back-up helicopter standing-by at Culdrose.

The tall ship is a ‘school afloat’. During their four-month voyage the 30 Polish teenagers – all about 14-years-old – have regular lessons in an onboard classroom.

They also carry out all the duties needed to look after the vessel, including scaling the huge masts to unfurl the sails.

They arrived in Plymouth from Stavanger in Norway and their next port was due to be Vigo in Spain.

From there they have planned to head further south before crossing the Atlantic to reach the Caribbean at the start of next year.

Below is an amateur video taken of the ship three years ago:

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