Sitting pretty at one of our favourite spots in the Algarves, Ferraguda near Portimao, we bore witness to the spectacular arrival of the German Naval training ship, the Gorch Fock. This massive Tall Ship sailed right by our window, much to the excitement of all.
A ship full of sailors – what's there not to be excited about, I ask? There was an Open Day on the Sunday and I was all geared to go, but when I found out there were also female sailors, it hardly seemed worth it. Just kidding of course. I mean there are female sailors aboard, and they didn't put me off, but the mile long queue did. Hope the boys were worth the wait folks! I mean, hope the boat was worth the wait...
I could tell you all types of technical information, like that it was built in 1958 and that it is 81.2m (266ft) long and 12m (40ft) wide; and that it is the third one built as the second one was taken by the Russian Allies as part of war reparations; and that it is a training ship for officers only; and and and and and.
But far more interesting is the gruesome stuff, like that 6 people have died in the last 50 years aboard this ship... Do you hear the Jaws music too? Was it to the Giant Sea Serpent I hear you ask. I think not, but I recently read that there have been 1200 reported sightings of sea serpents to this day. Some can be explained away, “now, just how many bottles have you had?”, and some are probably sightings of Frilly Sharks.
I kid you not. There is such a thing as a Frilly Shark. And yes, I have packed the bottle away. In the interest of accuracy it's actually called a Frilled Shark (big difference) and is thought to catch it's prey by curving it's body like a snake. Generally found at a depth of 1500m so not your biggest concern if you're out swimming in the ocean...
The last death aboard the Gorch Fock was in 2010 when a female cadet very sadly fell out of the rigging. The rigging is as much as 45m high! I once attempted to get hoisted up the mast of our sailing yacht (which was 11m long not wide...) and screamed bloody murder after just 1m. No chance of getting me up there mate.
And apparently this is exactly what the rest of the crew said after the incident and the Commanders deemed it Mutiny and/or Inciting rebellion. The situation was dealt with calmly it would seem, with the officers being sent back to finish their studies elsewhere and not put in a boat in the open sea as in the Mutiny on the Bounty.
So all's well that ends well. And with that I conclude this very interesting piece of writing – hey, if I don't say it, will you?! Should the Gorch Fock be sailing into your home town, go and have a gawk, it's well worth it.