AVID campaigner Peter Maddison has vowed to keep fighting and return the Adelaide back home to Sunderland.
The chairman of Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (Scarf) was speaking just hours after completing a 28 day stay on the historic clipper.
Mr Maddison aimed to highlight the group’s campaign to have her returned to her birthplace in Sunderland.
The former councillor, from Ashbrooke, boarded the City of Adelaide at its current base in Scotland.
Built in 1864, the vessel has lain on a slipway in Ayrshire for more than a decade, but is due to be moved to Adelaide, Australia.
“My stay on the ship has raised the profile of the clipper around the world,” he explained. “During my time on there I was interviewed by stations in Australia, the Caribbean and BBC World Service. Now people know that the Cutty Sark is not the world’s last composite clipper ship.”
He added: “It was more of a challenge physically than it was mentally. Mentally I’ve been close to the ship for a number of years so it was wonderful to be reunited with her.
“It was a lovely summer’s day when I left on Sunday but when I boarded her a month ago there was snow and storms. There isn’t any tables of chairs on board either so my knees have taken quite a hammering.
“I slept on the floor on the Adelaide and the thought of crawling into a bed now seems a little strange so I’ll probably sleep on the carpet for these few nights until I get used to being home.”
During his time on board Peter spent his days documenting the ship and its condition. He says she is in remarkable condition and that around 70 per cent of her is salvageable.
An Australian team was chosen by the Scottish Government to take responsibility for the ship and take her to a new home at the other side of the world.
Peter said: “For more than 12 years we’ve never had any contact with the Australians but now we do. I made contact with the Australian project manager on site which was an important contact to establish.
“The most important thing in all of this is the survival of the ship, the second is its geographic location which should be Sunderland.”
Scarf want the ship to be returned to Sunderland where she can be restored as a symbol of our industrial heritage and as a tourist attraction.
“We need to get the city of Sunderland behind us,” said Peter. “People think that because she’s 150 years old she’s a wreck, but she still has those beautiful clipper lines, she’s still intact. She has to be saved.”
The Adelaide, five years older than the Cutty Sark, sailed between London and the Australian city Adelaide carrying passengers and wool.
Its working days ended in 1893, and it was bought by Southampton Corporation for use as a sanatorium and isolation hospital.
Two years ago, the Scottish government announced a group from Australia as the preferred group to move and restore it.
But campaigners say Britain offers the best conditions for maintaining a vessel such as the Adelaide.