May 16, 2013

A Colin Archer called Sandefjord

Sandefjord in Robinson's Cove, Moorea, 15 miles from Tahiti

EARLIER THIS WEEK I was talking about that famous brand of sailing vessel known as the Colin Archer. That spawned a request for details about a gaff-rigged 47-foot Colin Archer ketch called Sandefjord.  By chance, I happened to know quite a lot about Sandefjord because she was based in my home town and belonged to two brothers, Pat and Barry Cullen.

They sailed her around the world in 1965/66 when she was about 50 years old, and made a movie of the trip.  There is a website still with a slide show that shows how different things were in those days, when young sailors went barefoot and wore nothing but rugby shorts under the tropical sun. No number 50 sunscreen for them as they circled the globe via the tradewind routes. No fears of melanoma, either, because the reigning medical opinion was that a healthy tan was good for you.

I have often wondered how many people were inspired by that movie to follow in the wake of Sandefjord. I wonder how many people bought or built Westsail 32s, the smaller siblings of the Colin Archer, because they were smitten with the romance of sailing off into the wild blue yonder.

It’s not difficult to understand the urge to explore the world’s beautiful islands and harbors, including those of the  South Seas, when you see a picture like that of Sandefjord above. No sensitive person could look at this beautiful boat stern-moored to a coconut tree  in Robinson’s Cove in Papetoai Bay, Moorea, without feeling emotionally moved.

Look at her exquisite lines.  Note the exact right amount of freeboard and the gorgeous curve of the sheerline. See how her bowsprit has just the perfect amount of steeve. Observe how her mizzen mast is raked just a couple of degrees farther aft than the mainmast  to avoid the dreadful appearance of parallel masts.  Note how carefully the ratlines have been placed and secured. This was a boat manned by sailors who loved her and understood her.  And, in turn, she looked after them.

There was a time, way back in 1935, when her former Norwegian owner, Erling Tambs, was sailing her to Cape Town, when she pitchpoled in a storm  and lost one man and her mizzen mast. But the Cullens and their crew completed their 1966 circumnavigation without major problems.  They did remove the engine, it’s true, when it started to give trouble. They carried on without one and they did break their bowsprit in what was diplomatically called a berthing incident, but they built themselves another sprit and carried on regardless.

Sandefjord was already famous when she circled westward around the earth from Durban to Durban, and the Cullens later entered her for the first Cape-to-Rio race in 1971, but what happened to her after that I don’t know. I hope someone is looking after her somewhere, showering her with the love and respect she surely deserves.

Today’s Thought
There’s a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the Sea.
— Richard Hovey, The Sea Gypsy

Children’s drums are highly educational toys. The first thing a kid learns when he gets a drum is that he’s never going to be given another one.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)      


Gary said...

Here you go John:,d.cGE

Annie said...

This is a direct link to the Norwegian site:

BK said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the blog - It's great. Do you know the name of the movie that the crew of Sandefjord made? I'd be curious to see it but couldn't find any reference to it on the web.


John Vigor said...

BK, the movie was called Sandefjord, Her Voyage Around the World. Contact Richard Crockett, editor of Sailing magazine, South Africa: He might be able to tell you where to get a CD.

Try this:

‎Or Google "Sandefjord Her Voyage Around the World."

John V.

Lena Stølås said...

Hi John

I will copy a link to this page at Sandefjords webpage. Niice to read your blogpage about her :-)

She is celebrating 100 years this year.

Best regards

John Vigor said...

Thanks Lena, nice to hear from you. I'm glad Sandefjord is being looked after in the manner she deserves.

John V.

Erling Tambs said...

Thanks John, for a very interressting book "Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat". And Thanks Lena for taking care of Sandefjord.

John Vigor said...

Hi Erling:

Good to hear from you. I presume you are a relative of the original Erling Tambs. It's wonderful to know that good old Sandefjord is being looked after so nicely in this, the 100th year of her life, thanks to Lena Stolas. She is now an important piece of maritime history and a great credit to Norwegian sailboat design and construction.


John V.

Anonymous said...

Such a pleasure reading your blog! A fine account John. We've always loved that photo of Sande in Robinson's cove. If you'd enjoy learning more of Sande's history after Patrick sailed her, with family, in the first Cape to Rio 1971, it will be a pleasure to provide a quick account.

Brian D. Wyllie said...

While traveling through the Caribbean in the fall of 1971, I met a South African family (husband, wife and two young boys) that was sailing around the world in Sandefjord. They were anchored at the island of Bequai, just South of Saint Vincent.They were doing a documentary of their voyage. I assume it was the same Sandefjord. It sure looks like what I remember. They said that it had been around the world already and had "Pitch-poled," etc. Too much of a coincidence.I would like to know more about what has transpired since I met them in 1973. I was working my way North on an old wooden 85-foot Ketch named Kyrinia. Great memories. I wrote about it in my book "The Long Trip Home."
Brian D. Wyllie

John Vigor said...

Brian, it's the same boat all right. The comments above indicate that she's being looked after in a welcoming part of Scandinavia.
John V.

Anonymous said...

Hello John and all. I came across a mention of Sandefjord in Bernard Moitessier's great book Cape Horn the Logical Route. I then found your blog with a photo of the beautiful Sandefjord. As a young 12 year old in Cape Town I was privileged to sail on her at RCYC (the Cape version) for just over a year, in and around the Cape of Good Hope. Her owner and skipper was a wonderful man, Tilly Penso, who had gone to sea as a 15 year old in the last of the Tea Clippers. The sheets and halyards were old sisal rope the masts and booms solid tree trunks and the sails thick hard canvas. What a way to learn to sail! I'm so overjoyed to hear she is still sailing. Thank you for this amazing link to the past for me. Chris Wheeler. 5th July 2017