HMS Pickle beaten up in Biscay

  • Thu, 13 Sep 2012

Twin-masted Tall Ship battered by gales

HMS Pickle

HMS Pickle's planned arrival in Gibraltar this week has been thwarted by drama worthy of her ancestor. Currently holed up in Northern Spain awaiting repairs, the 73ft twin-masted Tall Ship is now, rather fittingly, expected in time for Trafalgar Day on 21 October.

Robin James, skippering HMS Pickle from North Wales to Gibraltar, said: ‘The schooner has always, like her namesake before her, proved her strength and seaworthiness in tough circumstances, but weather conditions in the Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay were extreme to say the least. We were battered by gales and rough seas and sustained sail damage that we fixed ourselves but later became unserviceable.

‘To add insult to injury, a fishing net got sucked into the water intake causing the engine to overheat and fail. Repairs will be costly and time-consuming, so we're sitting tight awaiting assessment and quotations. It's a shame as HMS Pickle really looks great and we were all very excited to be arriving in Gibraltar this week.'

‘We feel as if we have been hit by lightning twice. I have learned to accept that with a ship like HMS Pickle there will always be a certain degree of adversity as well as adventure. You are at the mercy of the elements, always pitting your wits either against them or with them - and sometimes the elements win. 

‘Captain Lapenotiere, the Royal Navy officer commanding HMS Pickle in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, had many similar escapades on his voyages, from near-sinkings and snapping spars to having to throw cannons overboard to lighten ship. At least we're keeping with tradition and it has to be said that Trafalgar Day would make a rather fitting arrival time.'

HMS Pickle, an exact replica of the 1799-built original, is set to become a permanent fixture and tourist attraction at Gibraltar's Ocean Village Marina. She will be available for public viewing, organised parties and the occasional set-sail for corporate events and red letter days. The original HMS Pickle is famed for her role at the Battle of Trafalgar, where she raced home to give the King in London the bittersweet news of Lord Nelson's death and British victory over the combined Spanish and French fleet. 

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