|25 May 2013||Home >Heritage news >Irenes Miracle Cure|
Irenes Miracle Cure
Recovery of the sunken 96 year-old ketch Irene from the Caribbean and her re-building in Cornwall.
Most members will know of the disaster that befell the ex Bridgwater ketch Irene when based at the tiny salt island of Saint Maartens in the Caribbean in May 2003. A fire consumed almost the entire ship which burnt to the waterline and sank, this event taking place just before the 96th anniversary of her launch from Carvers yard, Bridgwater.
It is also well known that owner Leslie Morrish, not a man to be daunted, was not content to accept that she was a total constructive loss and resolved to bring her back to Britain for rebuilding. This operation, alone, was fraught, to say the least, for it was decided to tow the ship across the Atlantic and by the end of 2003 the remains were ensconced in a creek off the River Lynher in Cornwall.
Space here does not permit a blow-by-blow account of the rebuild but I paid a visit to the creek early in October last to see that the vessel was in the final stages of restoration and was able to hear from Leslie Morrish his plans for the ship which has been his passion for almost thirty years. He is a psychiatrist by trade and maybe the whole thing has been a form of therapy?
Anyway, the hull was complete, two new Gardiner engines installed and internal fitting out proceeding, although most of the original workforce have now moved on. I asked Morrish if he planned to return to charter work in warmer climes but he thinks not and proposes to use the ship for his own pleasure and that of his friends, although if somebody should appear with a large sack of money he could be persuaded to change his mind!
Since my visit, there has been a trip to Polruan where Irene was slipped for examination of the hull which had been sitting in a mud berth for four years. Nothing untoward was found, apart from the need for a good clean and the return trip was made to the Lynher at the end of November.
Work continues (the original plan to have the ship afloat for her centenary in May last was unfortunately not achieved) but it will not be long before we are able to see the old ship moving around her accustomed waters; perhaps, even, we shall see her reunited with her old companion Kathleen & May! We can but hope.
From Colin Green