On Sunday we had the chance to set foot on board the deck of a real sailing ship. The Jean de la Lune had called into Gibraltar on it’s voyage north to Southampton and lowered it’s gang plank to allow anyone who was interested to come and have a nosey around. As we have a pirate fan in the Postcard family it was too good a chance to turn down and we joined the queue of eager visitors on the North Mole quayside.
Jean de la Lune, a 110ft tall wooden Brigantine, was built in 1957 in Brittany in northern France, and was originally intended to be one of the last French fishing boats to be built without an engine. Her career as a fishing boat saw her have an engine fitted some years later but it came to an end in the mid 1970s.
During the last 40 years, and after a significant refit to convert her back into a sailing vessel she became a charter boat with sleeping accommodation for a crew of 4 and 12 guests.
She worked as a charter vessel taking scuba divers around the Western Isles of Scotland and in the mid 1980s she set sail for the Caribbean to help with the efforts of the Operation Raleigh charity. Jean de la Lune is now registered as a sail training ship on which people can learn how to sail.
Crowds of folk took their turn to have an explore during Sunday’s open day and there were lots of wannabe pirates on board. There was actually an offer to join the boat for the next leg of the journey from Gibraltar to Portugal – I resisted the temptation (although it would be a real adventure). The little ladders up and down to the different decks are very steep – I wouldn’t fancy attempting to negotiate them with the ship pitching and rolling on the high seas!
Our own little pirate very much enjoyed having a look around, although he wasn’t too keen about climbing aboard at first, preferring to suss it out from the quay before committing. The temptation to ring the ship’s bell and have a turn with the steering wheel was too good to miss.
Jean de la Lune has now left Gibraltar and is due in Porto, in Portugal at the weekend. After that, her next port of call is Southampton. If you fancy finding out more, check out the website for details.