Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Eolus – Black Opal – Eolus – Black Pearl – Bark – Ship – Ramsgate

I think, Eolus, Black Opal, Eolus and Black Pearl are all of the names that ship went under in the right order.

I worked on her from around when she arrived in Ramsgate which I think was August 1969, during my vacation also during the very cold winter 69/70 and the Easter vacation 70 I think towards the end of the Easter vac I got too involved in being a mechanic of sorts.  

This is a long time ago so I may have the dates a bit wrong I was having issues with my alma mater at the time which Theresa May has announced today will be the subject of a public enquiry. So my mind was much more focused on becoming a survivor than recording diversions.

At the time of this photograph the mizzen mast (one at the back) hadn’t been stepped (inserted) because the old engine, a Bolinder semi diesel which was located under two floors of accommodation astern (at the back

My guess is that this picture on an unknown slipway is of the sale survey probably 1968 or more likely 1969
This is in Ramsgate, probably 1969 note the hatches to the hold where she had previously been a coasting trader.
So coming back to the absence of the mizzenmast, and the removal of the engine, what we did was to remove part of the bulkhead (wooden wall across the who width and height of the hull) between the engine room and the cargo hold. Then we laid railway lines from the end of the engine bed (flat bits each side of the engine that it sits on). Connected a chain block (very strong wincing device) between the main mast (goes through the hull to the keel right at the bottom of the inside) and dragged the engine into the hold, where it could be lifted out with a crane. At this point mizzenmast would have been in the way. This photo is takne from the hold through the bulkhead into the engine room.  
Here are the masts as they were when bought in Norway, preparation in Ramsgate involved planing them square, the octagonal then sixteen sided and I think 32 sided and them sanding the off to round.

the top two photos accompany this email which received this week:-

Hello Michael
After finding some of my old files it revived my interest to discover the fate of the Black Opal.
Searching, I found your 2007 article on the Black Opal and discovered there that it is now a restaurant in Malta and renamed Black Pearl, it was great to know the vessel is still in existence, even in the current format.
The crews stories were an interesting account of some of the events that had befallen the vessel.
I may be able to add a little to the story as I found no reference to the person who founded  the project, Robert Bruderer.
I met Robert in May 1968 at his tourist attraction the ‘Opal Mine’ on the Gold Coast, Queensland, he had dug the mine himself, no opals in it, only seeded, it was dug by hand in the hill, which indicated his determination to succeed.
He sold me on his dream concept of a barquentine to showcase his opals and which then later was to be a cruise vessel off the Queensland coast, I was to be a part of the venture as the vessels marine engineer.
I became one of the original shareholders, but declined to join the vessel at Ramsgate after opting for a career at sea and a family.
I lost contact with Robert and the company after hearing much of the financial problems. Regrettably I didn’t stay in touch at the time.
Robert set off from Australia with Captain Gordon Keeble in July 1969 in search of his ideal vessel, they found the Eolus then commenced the fit out for conversion to the Black Opal at Ramsgate.
A letter from Robert in May 1970 he referred to it as costing $120,000 and being his “F111” but worth every penny of it.
Another article that came to light in my search was that Robert Bruderer bought the Clipper Patricia the mid 70’s to convert for cruising off Australia
While I doubt that is correct, I have no knowledge as to Robert’s involvement with the Black Opal after May 1970.
Possible he may have left the project for some reason and tried again elsewhere on his own, he was very determined to succeed in his dream of a cruising vessel.
I’ve attached a couple of b&w photo’s Robert sent me and the article regarding the Clipper Patricia.
This may be of interest to you, even after so many years
Best regards


The other photos above cam with this email I got in 2012 ad didn't publish at the time as I thought the intention was to publish them on a website that hasn't appeared yet.

Dear Micheal,
Just a few photos of eolus/black opal ,am working on restoring and  
digitising my library , should have about a hundred presentable images  
( out of about a thousand } when ready . Are you the man in the left  
back in the engine room ?.
Kind regards

The rest of the photos and more information in the comments are on my previous post about this, see https://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/friggin-in-rigging.html

Obviously there are bits of conflicting information as it was quite a long time ago. 

Been topping up fiction in the bookshop today, see http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/a-fools-alphabet-in-bookshop.html


  1. Dear Micheal
    Thanks for the post and further info and photos, I can now add bit more after further digging.
    The slipway was in Svendborg, Denmark, I can confirm the date as 20th September 1969, and most likely the Frederiks northern yard as it still had slipways in 69. The yard closed in 2011.
    The Eulos' homeport was registered as Svendborg, so this is the most likely place of purchase as a Danish newspaper article also reports "Svendborg-Skonnert solgt til Australien", Robert Bruderer. Am unable to read the article.
    In the deck photo under slipway, Robert is the 2nd from the right.

    Looking forward to seeing a website and Maurice's library when completed.

    Best regards

    1. hi great photos of the engine room front right is George Valvona front left myself and I think behind me Tony Simmons we all worked for Quern Marine. When we winched the engine forward the chain snapped narrowly missing me I still have the link. happy days Geoffrey Conner.

  2. very interested to see the photos of the Black Opal,the picture in the engine room shows myself on the left front and George Valvona front left.When we winched the old Bollinder engine forward the chain parted and narrowly missed my head,i still have the broken link.Would be great to see more photos of her in Ramsgate many happy memories.

    Geoffrey Conner.

  3. Hi great photos of the engine room front right is George Valvona front left myself when we winched the old Bollinder forward the chain snapped narrowly missing my head I still have the link Happy days.
    Geoffrey Conner


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