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106 year-old ship, Alexander von Humboldt receives warm welcome to Grand Bahama
By The Bahamas Weekly News Team
Mar 16, 2012 - 4:55:20 PM

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Sailing into Freeport Harbour Photo: Angela Hackman

Freeport, Bahamas - Alexander von Humboldt, a German ship originally built in 1906 arrived to her new home in Grand Bahamas Island today (March 15th, 2012). The vessel left Bremerhaven, Germany, on January 14th after serving for 105 years as a sail training ship for the German Sail Training Association.

She sailed majestically into the Freeport Harbour under the command of Captain Harald Meyer, and many local onlookers were perched for optimal viewing hours early at Pier One Restaurant to pay witness to the historic moment.

A welcome reception was held and remarks were given after mooring by Karen Seymour, Director of Tourism for Grand Bahama; Ian Rolle, President Grand Bahama Port Authority; and Erika Gates, President Grand Bahama Nature Tours. A plaque presentation took place by Capt. Orlando Forbes, Port Director. Closing out the ceremony with a Vote of Thanks was Alarie Turner, Operations Manager, Freeport Harbour Company.

The ship has a new mandate in its new home and that will be to host cruise ship passengers, island visitors and residents on coastal sailing excursions while bringing back the romance of sailing from years gone, as was advised recently to the public by l
ocal tour operator, Erika Gates who has been involved in the monumental transition .

The green-sailed ship will also serve as a venue for corporate gatherings, receptions and theme parties that can be catered to in the rustic dining room and bar below deck. Coastal cruises will also be offered to the Grand Bahama community on days when cruise ships are not in port.

Gates advised that an additional benefit of having this kind of sail training vessel stationed in Freeport Harbour will be maritime opportunities for young Bahamian men and women. " It is anticipated that this vessel may serve as a training ship once again, but this time in Bahamian waters. Upon the arrival of the ship the volunteer German  crew will be training an all Bahamian deck crew. There are 15 immediate positions available and the hiring process has already begun," said Erika Gates.

Sailing into Freeport Harbour Photo: Karen Clarke

Sailing into Freeport Harbour Photo: Angela Hackman

Docked at Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahama. The vessel left Germany on January 14th, 2012. Photo: Adrianna Joskowiak

More on the Alexander von Humboldt from Wikipedia:

She was operated throughout the North and Baltic Seas until being retired in 1986. Subsequently she was converted into a three masted barque by the German shipyard Motorwerke Bremerhaven and was re-launched in 1988 as Alexander von Humboldt.

Planned and ordered in 1906 as a reserve lightvessel (to stand in for other lightvessels during scheduled yard maintenance), the ship was launched on 10 September 1906 at AG Weser with construction serial number 155 as the first of its class. Her hull was based on a sailing ship, as was common in this class. There is no clear record if she was christened Reserve Fehmarnbelt (after her first station) or Reserve Sonderburg, as both names are documented. On the ship's bell appears Reserve; a first home port at Sonderburg (today Sønderborg, Denmark) is most likely. From 1920 to 1945 the ship was home ported at Kiel-Holtenau and served in many locations, but mainly along Baltic shores.

She was installed in 1945 as a permanent replacement for the bombed and damaged light vessel Kiel. In the spring of 1957 she was rammed by a Swedish freighter and sank, was raised and after a two-year overhaul returned to service in 1959.

During the summer of 1967 her location was upgraded to a lighthouse and she returned to stand-by reserve for North Sea deployment. Eventually she was assigned as permanent replacement for the retired Amrumbank. Being supplanted again by a fully automated light vessel – and following another collision and overhaul in Wilhelmshaven – was towed to Bremerhaven and named Confidentia.
[edit] Alexander von Humboldt

A newly established foundation, the Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training or DSST [German Sail Training Foundation] bought the vessel and transformed her into a tall ship based on her sailing ship hull. On 30 May 1988 she was christened Alexander von Humboldt after the celebrated German explorer. In a historical reference to the sailing ships of the Rickmers shipping company of Bremen, her hull was painted green. Green sails were installed as a marketing tool for advertising campaigns by the ship's sponsor, the German brewer Beck's.

"Alex", as she is called by her crew, serves as a sail training ship and is the flagship of DSST and has traveled over 300,000 nautical miles (560,000 km) in 20 years (equal to 14 times around the equator). High points every year are tall ships' races and winter cruises to the Canary Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. During summer months she sails in the North and Baltic Seas.

Her longest cruise to date was a voyage in commemoration of Alexander von Humboldt's expedition to South America and the Caribbean. On 19 January 2006, Alex rounded Cape Horn under sail, following the route of the legendary Tall Ships of the 19th and early 20th century in celebration of her centenary year.

Read a related Freeport News article:
GB's newest tourist attraction has arrived

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