Tall Ship Sailing and Science_Radio report

Tall Ship sailing and science. Oosterschelde.mp3. Reporter: Thomas Dullard

Presenter Intro: Tall Ships have long been connected to the world’s earliest stories of exploration. Remarkably, the science behind sailing with the wind and the water remain untouched since the early 1800’s. THOMAS DULLARD sailed on board a Dutch Tall Ship from Adelaide to Melbourne to find out more.


FILE: oosterschelde.mp3

BEG: (Sea Shanty music) Thousands of years since…

END: … Thomas Dullard, Melbourne.

DUR: 3:25 (story)

BACKANNOUNCE: That was an intriguing report from Thomas Dullard…


(Sounds of Sea Shanty music …)

THOMAS DULLARD: Thousands of years since Tall Ships first sailed the seas and almost 200 years after they first explored the world, these eye-catching ships are still using the same sciences to navigate the seas.

The Oosterschelde, is a 95-year-old three masted topsail schooner, and has been winding back the clock as a part of a circumnavigation around the world. First Mate MAARTEN DE JEONG says the science and principle behind sailing tall ships has changed little.

MAARTEN DE JEONG: “It is still that you wanna catch the wind and you have the wind flow through the sails, you adjust one sail and it will affect one behind it. And they did that the same 400 years ago, 100 years ago. And it still will stay the same in the next coming thousand years.”

If invented today, these mammoth sailing ships and their techniques would be hailed as renewable wind or even groundbreaking sustainable technology.

(Sailing background noise)

And this age-old science of sailing isn’t for the faint hearted. It never has been. And, it seems, it never will be… according to sailing passenger MAARTEN TUEBEN.

MAARTEN TEUBEN: “I’m in the crows nest of a Dutch tall ship, probably something like twenty metres above the boat and above the sea. You can hear the shiver in my voice, I am Aussie shit scared, and the boat starts rocking now and I don’t like this…”

“I I can see a lot but I don’t know what it is because the boat is rocking again…”

(Sea Shanty background music)

The traditional convention of manually setting the Tall Ships sails, climbing the rigging and catching the wind to be propelled through the world’s waters is unchanged from yesteryear.

Well actually it works just like any ship or any sailor, it doesn’t really matter if you have one sail, five sails, twenty sails or thirty hundred sails. Sailing is sailing, and the only thing that is really the difference is that the forces are bigger. And the sail area’s are bigger, so the forces on the ropes are bigger, and on the booms and on the masts. It is the same thing on a bigger scale.”

(Sounds of waves hitting the boat background noise)

But is this ancient form of sailing an art, a hobby, a science or a trade?

“Ofcourse there is science behind it, and it is good to know the science behind it. But in the end, for me, I mainly sail on feeling. You feel if the ship is not moving right and stuff like that, you adjust. It is a combination of the science and the feel and the knowledge. So I think in the end it is a trade, because it is a combination of everything.”

To gain a first hand account of the complexities and specifics of sailing a tall ship remains an exciting, liberating and a therapeutic experience.

(ATMOS: Sounds on board the ship, putting up the sails.)

“It just feels right. People ask me, ‘oh you were at sea for like 30 days in a row, that must be boring?’ But it is not. The sky has different colours everyday, the sun is rising as we speak now. It is indescribable and you have to see that. It is a different colour everyday, the sea aswell has different colours, different waves. Wild life coming by, albatrosses’ coming along, gannants diving in the ocean. There is Whales, dolphins, turtles, there is so much. It is different everyday.

(Sounds of waves hitting the boat)

From the science behind the sails to the science in the sea, Tall Ships will always remain a unique – and silent – part of our existence.