had been sunk for some time at Harry Pound's Shipbreakers
in Portsmouth. People were saying "Why doesn't somebody
do something"? Perhaps the obvious answer is that most
people who would be inclined to do something were already
involved in their own historic ship projects.
Maritime Trust investigates
Medway Maritime Trust didn't exactly have time on their
hands, but while they were waiting for a giant crane to
lift their paddle tug John H Amos onto a pontoon, they at
least had time to investigate. (Visit www.johnhamos.org.uk)
It was reported that Pounds were willing to sell the Vigilant.
Further enquiries revealed that they did not own her. The
vessel was still owned by the Vigilant Trust.
Vigilant Trust had been set up so that trustees were responsible
for everything as individuals. Many trustees were willing
to cut their losses in such a difficult situation. Having
agreed free moorings, Pounds now required £3400 for
mooring and "safe-keeping". There were sufficient
funds in the bank for the Vigilant Trust to pay for a rescue.
A safe haven was needed. A company to effect the rescue was
needed. The Medway Maritime Trust concluded that all that
was required was to make it happen.
Historic Ships Trust (in formation)
Stevens, Chairman of the Medway Maritime Trust, had been working
on a scheme to make Faversham in Kent a safe haven for Historic
Ships. This seemed to be an ideal opportunity to kick-start
arranged for the Vigilant Trust to pay Pounds the £3400.
Included in this amount was the pumping out of Vigilant and
towing her to the shore. Pounds never did this. Some time
passed while they argued the point until Pounds required more
money. If the money was not forthcoming they would claim Vigilant
as their property.
one of many visits to Portsmouth, Martin Stevens learned that
Vigilant was due to be cut up "within days." Pounds
required instructions in writing to prevent this action. With
no authority to issue such instructions Martin wrote on Medway
Maritime Trust notepaper and told Pounds to desist from their
action and that Vigilant would be removed. This worked.
contacted GPS Marine Contractors and asked for an inclusive
quote to tow Vigilant to Faversham. This was to include everything
from removal and transportation of loose artefacts to waterproofing
the temporary deck, insurance, surveys, obtaining load-line
exemption, and the tow itself. The Vigilant Trust agreed to
dispute which centred on the pumping out of Vigilant was solved
by Martin and his brother who deployed two 2 inch Honda pumps
and managed to make Vigilant float on a rising tide. He used
his van to pull her to the shore. When the clutch started
to smell he persuaded a man with a crawler digger to complete
the pull. Before the tow departed Martin made two more visits.
It was important that the people of Faversham should not be
put off by "a wreck" arriving in their creek, so
Vigilant received a coat of shiny black paint.
Tow to Faversham
small tug removed Vigilant from Pounds Yard and the GPS tug
Alexandra did the main tow. Because of the "one way system"
in the Channel, the Vigilant was towed towards Boulogne before
crossing back again. For Faversham Creek, which is seriously
silted, a smaller GPS tug Felucca was assisted by the Faversham
Iron Wharf tug Pet.
to others, even as Vigilant was being towed to the "safe
haven" of Faversham, the choice of three possible berths
which Martin had arranged had be reduced to one unconfirmed
berth, albeit the most suitable. So Vigilant remained on the
Town Quay visitors berth until it was confirmed that she could
go to the old Frank and Whittome berth just downstream from
The press was called in for the arrival and both BBC South
East and Meridian ITV covered the event well in their local
news programmes. Photographs were also publshed in the Faversham
Times and Faversham News.
Chairman of the Advisory Committee to National Historic Ships,
Dr Robert Prescott, travelled to Faversham to see significant
progress in one of the projects he has been closely involved
Trust, New Ownership
next stage is to set up a new Trust.
The Vigilant Trust had been formed with full responsibility
resting on the individual trustees. The new "Vigilant
Restoration Trust" will be formed as a company limited
by guarantee and then given charitable status.
for an album of rescue photos (opens a new window)