The 100-year-old brig Eye of the Wind is visiting Ramsgate harbour today (July 7).
The craft is one of the last traditional sailing ships of our time and has been the star of Hollywood films with actors including Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges at the helm.
In 1911, the Lühring shipyard at Brake/Germany built a topsail schooner, which was baptised by her owner, captain Johann Friedrich Kolb from Fockbek, with the name “Friedrich”. In March 1924, the ship was sold to the ship owner Axel Ageberg in Kalmar in Sweden and was named “Sam.”
Two years later she was acquired by the shipping company KH Hendriksson in Sweden. After a Jönköpings-two-strike engine was fitted, she became a motor schooner and spent 30 years criss-crossing the Baltic and North Sea as a cargo ship “Merry.”
In autumn of 1955, she ran aground in a heavy storm on the Swedish west coast. The wreck was salvaged, repaired and put into operation as one and a half masted schooner “Rose Marie,” at times deployed for drift-net fishing off Iceland. The ship, which was now exclusively engine-powered, changed her owner twice in the 1960s, and “Rose Marie” became “Merry” again.
On 21 January 1970, a fire destroyed the ship’s stern and engine room. The wreck only narrowly escaped the scrap yard. It was first sold to a buyer from the USA who originally wanted to transform it into a pub. This plan was never realized.
Under her new name Eye of the Wind, the two-master was finally ready to embark on new adventures at sea. She sailed around the globe on her first journey, stopping in Australia, the Pacific and the infamous Cape Horn.
The trip was barely finished in 1978 when the next challenge was already waiting for this impressive tall ship: Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Eye of the Wind had the honour of being the flagship for “Operation ‘Drake.” More than 400 crew members took part in this almost two-year globe-trotting expedition in the footsteps of the famous explorer and scientist Sir Francis Drake. While the various crew members on board of the Eye of the Wind came from 27 different countries, after a short period of time they had one thing in common: they were captivated by the character and charm of this ship.
After participating in the Tall Ships Race 2000, a Danish businessman bought the ship, which he used to set out for private trips from his home port Gilleleje.
On 1 April 2009, the ship found a new home port at FORUM train & sail GmbH, a subsidiary of the German Forum Media Group. Since then, she is used all year round for group and theme travel as well as for exclusive charters and high-quality management training.
The Eye of the Wind has crossed the waters of film sets, and – as in real life – faced fierce storms, run aground, been burned out and sunk in front of the camera.
The ship featured in several major Hollywood productions including the adventure film “Blue Lagoon” (1980), the pirate movie “Nate and Hayes” (1983), “Tai-Pan” (1986) and “White Squall” (1996). Well-known Hollywood stars such as Brooke Shields and two Oscar winners, Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges, took the helm of the ship in their hands.