Introduction FC -59

 

S/Y Flying Clipper was a 3-masted topgallant schooner with displacement of 659 tons and with a length of 60 meters and mast-height of almost 40 meters. It belonged in the 1950s and 60s to Clipper Line in Malmö, Sweden. She served mainly as school-ship but during the summer 1959 she was chartered by William Benton, chairman of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Among his guests aboard was Adlai Stevenson, senator and former president candidate in USA.

 

The crew on deck, 14 sailors, was recruited from the Swedish naval education organization “Sjövärnskåren”.
12 aspirants were 16-18 years in age, 2 aspirant leaders a few years older. The crew members were well educated in navigation and seamanship but none of them had experience from sailing onboard a sailing ship.

 

We embarked in Gothenburg June 10 and left the harbor the following morning. We made Malmö harbor June 15 and further to Kiel and on the channel to Cuxhaven. From there we sailed on the North Sea, through the English Channel, on the Biscay and the Atlantic and arrived in Lisbon on June 29. Our passengers embarked in Lisbon and next stop was Sevilla which meant that we had to go up the river Guadalquivir. During the rest of the cruise we first passed Gibraltar and then made more than 20 harbors in western Mediterranean before we reached our destination Livorno on August 15.

 

This of course was a great and almost unique event for us on deck. Experiences under sail of that dimension are rare and hard to describe. On the other hand a lot of people from our latitudes have experienced and enjoyed the Mediterranean nowadays. Our life on board was also very authentic for that on sailing ships in the old days. This strengthened indeed the experience: we lived in the fore-castle, 14 men on 129 square ft (12 m2), and worked watch
on watch, i.e. we made two working teams relieving each other continuously. It meant basically 84 hours work a week, frequent occasions when “all hands” was ordered, to be added.

 

During the sail I wrote dairy/logbook daily and took photos/and or filmed when given the opportunity.

My memories from the summer 1959 have been resting but when my son Jonas, who is photographer and experienced book designer, found my pictures some years ago he was enthusiastic and proposed that we should produce a book so that others could also enjoy them. Now we have been working on it for more than a year. One of my ship-mates, Gunnar Stenström has taken part in the work and contributed with reflections on our notes in the diaries, with film-loops, artwork and ship history.

 

Staffan Wettre