From cargo ship to luxury private yacht
This French Grand Old Lady visited SAIL in Amsterdam only sporadically. It is remarkable that she now participates in SAIL 2015, because in principle she sails exclusively in her ‘own’, more southern, waters of Europe. Last year she was a guest at Sail Den Helder 2013 and many spectators were delighted by the ship. The elegant lines, the beautiful balustrade at the back, the typical French culture and of course its history.
Once a cargo ship (Bark) came into service in June 1896, she is the oldest sailing ship from the ‘Belle Epoque’. The period in which the sailing merchant ships were slowly but surely displaced by steamships. As a cargo ship they sailed on behalf of a French shipowner. In the following 18 years, the Belem crossed the Atlantic 33 times with different types of cargo. Just before the outbreak of the First World War, her role as a freighter came to an end. In March 1914 she got a new British owner, the second Duke of Westminster, who completely renovated the ship into a luxury private yacht. He had the wooden masts replaced with steel ones and installed two motor-driven screws. In addition to a major renovation in the hold where luxury cabins were made, the current Victorian balustrade with white columns was also installed. Which is now so characteristic of this ship. After she changed owners several times, the ship was sold in 1976 to a Venetian yard, refurbished and put on sale. A number of French businessmen saw a chance to buy back the ship and in 1977 the Belem Foundation was founded. She was once again certified as Bark and since then has been a commercial training ship. It has a total length of 58 meters.
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