The following is a transcript of a report which first appeared in The Cape Argus in January 1909. Please scroll down to find more info on Forget Me Not recently acquired (25/11/05)

DOVER TO TABLE BAY

10,000 MILES IN FISHING SMACK

AN ADVENTUROUS QUARTETTE

PROVISIONS RUN SHORT

The spirit of adventure is not yet dead, despite all that may be said to the contrary. Youth, the world over, still sighs - if not exactly for fresh worlds to conquer - at any rate, for new countries to explore, and ever desires to take an active part in the experiences of those that go down to the sea in ships. It was this spirit animated four young English fellows now in Cape Town, to buy a tiny vessel and sail for Southern seas.

In the early part of last year (1908), the quartette, bent on adventure decided to spend a month or two on a cruise, this gradually broadened out into something larger. With their hard-earned savings a 22-ton fishing smack, named Forget-me-Not was purchased from a Dover fisherman, and in June last year they set sail from Dover for Buenos Ayres. The little boat had been fitted out for the trip as well as their limited means would allow. They visited Madeira, Las Palmas, Cape Verde Island, and the treasure island of Trinidad, now uninhabited. This island is 400 miles from the Brazils, and was at one time a favourite rendezvous of pirates; it must not be confused with Trinidad in the West Indies. By this time the spirit of adventure had grown even stronger, and so the captain suggested a trip across to the little lonely islands in the centre of the South Atlantic. This was agreed to and the tiny boat was directed a few more points to the east. It was a great day when in the far distance, something, which looked like a high peak, appeared on the horizon. It was

INACCESSIBLE ISLAND,

and was reached at daybreak. To the crew's disappointment, however, after sailing round the island to discover the landing beach, and putting the dinghy off and rowing two miles to the shore, they found the place uninhabited, except for three sheep and one dog, which they heard afterwards were left on the island by some Tristan da Cunha people who landed there a year before. Thirty miles away was another island with snow-capped peak showing above the clouds. This was made the next point of call, and proved to be Tristan da Cunha. This was a welcome sight for the little party, for they had seen hardly anything but sea for seven weeks, and the water supply was giving out; only a few gallons remained in the tanks, and that hardly drinkable. They had three weeks on the island with its 81 inhabitants - whom, it might be mentioned, lived chiefly on mutton and fish, and when in season, potatoes. Bread is practically unknown. A few cows supply milk, the only drink, except water, on the island. Unfortunately the island is over-run with rats, and this makes agriculture impossible. The next place of call was Nightingale Island, where the Forget-me-Not was able to add 400 to 500 petrel eggs to its small larder. Two hundred and fifty miles from here they reached Gough Island - uninhabited - and with the exception of a few fish caught while at anchor, the quartette found nothing to add to their provision list. The island is roughly 20 miles square and beautifully green. Their stay, owing to

BAD WEATHER,

was limited. The coast is dangerous, and the winds very strong. A westerly gale springing up, a hurried departure was made and the boat steered in the direction of the Cape. Within a short distance of the Cape of Good Hope strong south-east winds were met with, and caused considerable delay and inconvenience. With the exception of three or four storms, when part of the rigging and some sails were carried away, the voyage was very pleasant.

The Forget-me-Not reached Table Bay with the Tristan mails on Christmas morning, and it goes without saying that the four adventurers were able to enjoy a right good Christmas dinner. Their provisions on board were reduced to within very small limits, only a few pounds of flour, a little tea, and four gallons of tainted water remaining. This interesting little fishing boat, which has now completed over 10,000 miles, is now moored in the Victoria Basin, near the Clock Tower.

The cruise has taken over seven months, and owing to urgent family affairs the captain is anxious to get back to England as soon as practicable. This is most unlooked for, and regrets are expressed by the crew at having to dispose of the boat after being their home for so many pleasant day and exciting moments.


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However, that is by no means the end of the story of "Forget-meNot" herself. In April 1964 an extract from "Flotsam and Jetsam", the official publication of the South African Section of the World Ship Society, reported:

"Forget Me Not", one of the loveliest names that I have ever known given to a ship; I cannot think of any more fitting name that could be more romantic to that lovely little Dover fishing smack that sailed away from the Cliffs of Dover in the English Channel to the faraway Cape of Good Hope and, sad to relate, never to return to her home port again.

How I remember her with her freshly-oiled masts and white-painted cross-trees and lanyard-rigging laced through dead-eyes, a method of securing rigging not seen nowadays, that must have stood up to many a gale in the North Sea and the English Channel before she sailed for the Cape.

On her counter artistically painted was her name "Forget Me Not" surrounding a white star above her Port of Registry, Dover. Her hull was black-painted with a white band running fore and aft.

Forget Me Not`s passage out from Dover was a long one but apart from the normal trials of a long passage of a small vessel, nothing unusual occurred and she arrived safely. She had no engine or motor and was dependant on sail only.

However, after sailing all those ocean miles and seeking fair winds to make her passage to the Cape she was fated to meet with ill-luck soon after her arrival for a few days later she sank alongside the quay where she was moored in the Inner Basin. She had sprung a leak in one of her seams, probably caused through some stress and strain on the passage out. She was successfully raised and refitted and was soon to join the fleet of "snoeking" craft. She served a well-known firm in the fishing trade for many years but was lost like many other fine craft along the coast of South West Africa when she foundered in the breakers not far from Walvis Bay."

I am indebted to Peter du Toit of the John H. Marsh Maritime Research Centre in Cape Town for turning up that little gem; the pictures below showing Forget Me Not during her life as a "snoeker" come from the archives of that institution.


 
Forget Me Not   Cape Town 
June 1937


Forget Me Not (foreground) in Robinson Dry Dock
Cape Town. December 1936

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