Wear ship sailing on

The James Craig was built in Sunderland in 1874.
The James Craig was built in Sunderland in 1874.
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A SUNDERLAND-built sailing ship was the star attraction at a festival Down Under.

James Craig was built at the 
city’s Bartram, Haswell and Co yard in 1874.

Normally berthed in Sydney Harbour, south east Australia, the 138-year-old ship made a rare journey down the coast for the Port Kembla Maritime Community Day.

Up to 40 passengers enjoyed the voyage, spotting a pod of whales en route, before the crew dropped anchor.

The ship’s captain John Dikkenberg said: “It’s the second oldest square-rig sailing ship in the world, only beaten by a ship in America by a few years.”

“But it’s the oldest ship in the world that goes to sea regularly.”

Mr Dikkenberg said the ship, originally named Clan Macleod, was “Australia’s largest mobile artefact” and played a part in the country’s trade, industrial and military history.

The three-masted “barque” was used as a cargo ship for 26 years, before being bought by James Craig, from Auckland, New Zealand, for use on trans-Tasman trade routes as a cargo carrier.

By 1911 it faced competition from steamships, so was stripped down to transport coal in New Guinea.

After the First World War, a shortage of cargo ships gave the James Craig a new lease of life, but by 1932 it was abandoned and became beached after a storm.

Volunteers began restoring the ship in 1972. However, it was not until 2001 that all 21 sails were finally hoisted for the ship to sail on Sydney Harbour.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho