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'She is living history': Excelsior prepares for new season

PUBLISHED: 12:58 24 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:58 24 March 2019

Janice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill Hancock

Janice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill Hancock

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The new skipper of one of the UK’s top 60 most historic ships is looking forward to a busy season ahead.

Janice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill HancockJanice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill Hancock

And after taking up the ropes of the Excelsior – Lowestoft’s historic fishing smack – Jim Goddard has urged the community to rally round the vessel ahead of a special anniversary in 2021.

Mr Goddard said: “She is living history – we want people to take a real interest in her.”

Janice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill HancockJanice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill Hancock

As a yachtmaster instructor with more than 25 years of experience in teaching adults and children on board modern and traditional yachts, Mr Goddard has sailed extensively in Europe and completed a round-Britain sail in 2016.

He has also been actively involved in the rehabilitation of veteran servicemen with PTSD and disabilities through his work with horses.

Janice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill HancockJanice Fleming, apprentice bosun, Isaac Erdman, 1st mate, and skipper Jim Goddard aboard Excelsior. Pictures: Bill Hancock

With the 77ft Excelsior LT472 built by John Chambers of Lowestoft in 1921, the Excelsior Trust management team said they were going to go “flat out” to raise the profile of the 100th anniversary as they had “big plans” ahead.

Over recent months extensive works have been carried out ahead of the new sailing season in April. Mr Goddard said: “I came in for the maintenance plan and had three or four months to learn the boat which is great.

The sails of The Excelsior being painted in preparation for the new season, Picture: Mick HowesThe sails of The Excelsior being painted in preparation for the new season, Picture: Mick Howes

“All the work on the boat is done, with the whole exterior painted and spruced up for the new season, and the topside was painted while back in the water. We have less than three weeks to go to the new season: we are all itching to get sailing now – we are on the final straight now.”

On Friday, the sails were painted in traditional fashion down at The Ness park in Lowestoft – where the crew were joined by volunteers from Google, in London. Sarah De Haas, who has volunteered with Excelsior for three years, said: “We all work at Google and we’ve come down from London to help paint the sails, which is done every two years.”

The sails of The Excelsior being painted in preparation for the new season, Picture: Mick HowesThe sails of The Excelsior being painted in preparation for the new season, Picture: Mick Howes

Mr Goddard added: “We paint the sails every two years to protect them from all weathers, salt and sunlight.

“This was traditionally done down by the old fishing net drying racks and this is amazing for us to come to The Ness park, where they would have been doing this for 100 years.”

Background

As a non profit charity existing to provide life changing opportunities for as many people as possible, Excelsior has voyages to Holland, Belgium and France planned in the coming months and well as numerous day sail trips.

Mr Goddard said: “The years coming we are looking at going back up to Norway, Denamrk and we have a big plan in thnat we would like to to Iceland in the next couple of years.

“We can take 12 guests as well as crew, including schoolchildren and we give them as much experience as possible by working as a team.”

With the first day sails on April 12, a Lowestoft day sail will be held on May 6 – with a rare day’s sailing out of her home port.

Call the charity on 0845 3082323 or email sailing@excelsiortrust.co.uk

Timeline

1921 The Excelsior is built and launched in Lowestoft as a fishing trawler – part of the town’s 300-strong fishing fleet.

1935 The Excelsior is sold to Bjørn Stensland of Norway and converted into a motor coaster.

1970s She is being used as a cement carrier along the Norwegian coast when she is bought by John Wylson who sails her back to Lowestoft. He and Mark Trevitt restore her back to sail.

1983 Mr Wylson and Mr Trevitt formed the Excelsior Trust to complete the reconstruction and operate the Excelsior as a sail training ship.

1988 The Excelsior is commissioned by HRH the Princess Royal.

1999 She is rated one of Britain’s top 60 historic ships by the National Historic Ship Committee and becomes part of the National Core Collection.

2013 The Excelsior is relaunched in Lowestoft after a two-year restoration.

2019 The Excelsior will be offering numerous sails, plus voyages to destinations abroad – booking via www.theexcelsiortrust.co.uk

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