Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Boat Project

If you knew me well, you would know that I love the sea. Always have and always will. Perhaps it is in my blood for my mother's family were all connected to the sea in one form or another: from bargemen to Sea Captains. I am even named after a ship, the SS Irene, a sailing sloop owned by my late Great Grandfather. I was born in landlocked Manchester but as all of mother's family lived by the sea near Liverpool, I was a frequent visitor to that coastline.


When the family returned from Hong Kong in 1992, we were fortunate to be able to find a house by the sea on the South coast. I can see, feel, touch and smell the sea whenever I wish. How happy that makes me.


You may wonder where all this is leading? Earlier this year, in a boat-shed along the coast, I had the opportunity to witness a most unusual form of storytelling. A boat was being built 'from the stuff of peoples lives', a veritable floating collage of memories. The cry had gone out 'We want your wood', with the proviso that with each donation there was the story of how that piece of wood featured in that person's life. In the end, over 1,200 pieces were used to create the most amazing vessel. As well as the boat, there is a book that archives the stories and lives that made all this possible.


The Boat Project


There were donations from all walks of life: there's a section of Brighton pier, a Victorian policeman's truncheon, a 1960's hairbrush used at Pinewood Studios, pencils, hockey sticks, and even a piece of Jimi Hendrix's guitar to name but a few. The public voted to name the boat and eventually 'Collective Spirit' was chosen, a name that encompasses the teamwork behind the construction and the spirit of all who donated to this project.


with thanks to Tom Gruitt


During the Portsmouth Festivities, Collective Spirit has been docked at Gunwharf Keys in Portsmouth and today, she will leave Portsmouth Harbour with Dee Caffari, MBE at the helm and will sail along the coast, stopping at Hastings and Margate before returning to Weymouth in time for the London 2012 Olympics.




The boat's Captain, Major Mike Barham, REME, who has witnessed tough times in battle zones such as Afghanistan, says that sailing Collective Spirit is one of his biggest challenges to date. He says: 'There is nothing like her. I truly have never been entrusted with so much emotional value... she will never be just another boat'.




You can visit The Boat Project here. As storytelling goes, it's a unique one that has certainly captured my imagination. I hope it captures yours too.


Today's story is connected to Sian's Storytelling Sunday. You can see all the links here. We all have a story to tell. Why don't you join in and tell yours?

24 comments:

Missus Wookie said...

Oh now what a cool idea and so well implemented too. I do love water especially the sea but don't get there that often.

debs14 said...

I have read literally dozens of stories since Storytelling Sunday began and I have to say that this is one of my absolute favourites of all time! I love the idea of this project and will be clicking on your link to find out more. Thanks so much for sharing.

helena said...

I saw this briefly on the news - would be fabulous to see it for real

scrappyjacky said...

This project sounds brilliant...and as it's stopping in my home town....I hope to actually see it.

Mel said...

This looks amazing - such a great story!

Kirsty.a said...

What a lovely idea. Thanks for sharing it

Melissa said...

I had not heard of this project, but it is fascinating. I like the fact that they put the stories together in a book! I'm off to check out a little more about it before getting back to this Sunday's stories.

Abi said...

Oh my! This really did capture my imagination. What a special vessel carrying all those memories. Beautiful.

Becky said...

Great post and what a brilliant idea"

Karen said...

I have seen photographs of the 'strange' boat and now I know the story, in my mind it is now a beautiful boat. Thanks for enlightening me.

furrypig said...

what a great project involving so many people I must try and find out more and try and see it in real life I would love to hear/read some of those tales associated with all the wood used. Thanks for this brilliant post xxx

Lisa-Jane said...

I've heard about this but never seen any pictures - it looks amazing! I'm sorry it missed it locally now (live in Southampton) but I'd love to see it and read the book. What a fantastic story of stories.

Beverly said...

This is absolutely magnificent! Thank you so much for sharing the story :)

Ifa said...

They did such an amazing job building Collective Spirit. Thank you for sharing.

Gail said...

What an absolutely neat idea - thanks so much for telling about it. I probably wouldn't have heard a thing about it on this side of the ocean.

Gem's Crafts said...

That is such a good idea, all that history in one boat!

Jennifer Grace said...

Wow, that's amazing, I love it! What a great way to collect stories. I'll have to find a way to see the boat! Thanks for sharing. x

Mitra Pratt said...

WOW! I got cold chills! Love your story!!!

Chipper said...

That is AMAZING!!! Thanks for sharing. If you hadn't told this story I would never have heard about such a unique boat.

Jane said...

what a fantastic idea, I'd love to see it!

Sandie said...

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog post,it gave me reason to visit and how glad I am. I so loved your story of the boat and was very inspired by this amazing idea. I will be finding out more, and it would be extra special if I ever get a chance to see the boat itself. Thank you for sharing this story.

Alison said...

Great story Irene...TFS!
Alison xx

Linda said...

How fascinating! I had not heard of this project before:) Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog:)

Sian said...

How perfect is this? Absolutely worth coming home for in every way! I love it (especially with that sea connection!) Thank you for a special story Irene - I agree with Deb. It's an all time favourite