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Superyacht Reef Chief in West India Dock

It would seem that Superyacht season is in full swing with the arrival of the Reef Chief in West India Dock.

Reef Chief is a 49.07m, 160.76ft  luxury yacht which was built in United States of America by Trinity Yachts and delivered in 2009

The  yacht was previously named Anjilis and her luxurious interior is designed by Glade Johnson Design and her exterior styling is by Geoff Van Aller.

The yacht has a aluminium hull superstructure with an ultra-modern stabilization system.

Reef Chief can accommodate 11 guests in 5 rooms and can carry up to 9 crew onboard.

Various reports suggest the yacht has been sold recently, but as usual it is very difficult to find out who actually owns the vessel.

It is nice to see a few ships beginning to visit the dock despite the development all around the dock.

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SuperYacht Forever One in West India Dock

After a quiet period, there appears to be a bit more activity with ships visiting West India Dock, the latest arrival is the superyacht Forever One.

The 179 ft yacht was built by ISA yachts at the Ancona shipyard in Italy and launched in 2014. The yacht was designed by Horacio Bozzo Design with interior design by Studio Massari.

The yacht has a reverse bow and fold-down balconies with an unusual colour design on the exterior with red touches here and there. The red relates to the owners’ connection to Coca Cola.

According to various sources, Bruce Grossman is the owner of the yacht Forever One, he is considered to be one of the richest men in Mexico. The name Forever One refers to Bruce’s wife Elsa.

The yacht allegedly cost 40 million pounds and features all the usual features like Stabilizers , Jacuzzi (on deck), Beach Club, Gym, and Lift. The yacht can accommodate 10 guests in five large cabins and has a crew of 12

The yacht did visit the dock before in 2015, It is not known how long the Forever One will be in dock.

French Navy ships : Lynx (A751) and Guépard (A752) in West India Dock

After the arrival of three training ships of the French Navy,  Léopard (A 748), Panthère (A 749) and Lion (A 755) yesterday, we have two more ships arriving to with the Lynx (A751) and Guépard (A752.

All the ships are Léopard-class training ships which are used for navigational and practical training of potential French officers.

In the 1970s, the French Navy decided to build eight vessels to provide practical training in the operation and navigation of naval vessels. Lion and Lynx  were built by La Perrière in Lorient, and Panthere, Guepard and Leopard were built by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Manche (ACM) in Saint-Malo in the early 1980s.

The ships of this class usually have a crew composed of 1 officer, 10 sailors, and 4 quartermasters; plus 1 or 2 officers, 2 instructors, and 18 students.

Still in the dock is the Marienborgh yacht, so for a short time we have interest in the dock rather than watching the various developments moving higher and higher.

It is not often we have five naval ships in the dock, hopefully they will be here for a little while.

French Navy ships : Léopard (A 748), Panthère (A 749) and Lion (A 755) in West India Dock.

After a very quiet period in West India Dock, we welcome the arrival of three training ships of the French Navy. Léopard (A 748), Panthère (A 749) and Lion (A 755) are Léopard-class training ships which are used for navigational and practical training of potential French officers.

In the 1970s, the French Navy decided to build eight vessels to provide practical training in the operation and navigation of naval vessels. Lion were built by La Perrière in Lorient, and Panthere and Leopard were built by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Manche (ACM) in Saint-Malo in the early 1980s.

These types of vessels have been regular visitors in the last few years, but I do believe these particular ships last visited in 2013.

The ships of this class usually have a crew composed of 1 officer, 10 sailors, and 4 quartermasters; plus 1 or 2 officers, 2 instructors, and 18 students.

Still in the dock is the Marienborgh yacht, so for a short time we have plenty of interest in the dock rather than watching the various developments around the dock moving higher and higher.

I expect the visit is just part of the training on the ships and it is not known how long the vessels will be in the dock.

Marienborgh Yacht in West India Dock

It has been a very quiet winter for visitors to West India Dock, no doubt due to the on-going building works around the dock.

However we do have an interesting visitor with the arrival of the Marienborgh. The boat is a two-mast schooner that dates back to 1912.

There have been long term plans for boat to be fitted out as a luxurious dining venue.  It was first proposed in 2012 but since then the boat has been to Holland and has been spotted in King George V dock in the Royal docks.

Little is known about the background of the boat or its plans but it has been put up for sale a number of times in the last few years.

Lady A Superyacht in West India Dock

After we have had a very quiet period in West India Dock, we welcome the arrival of the 55.17 metre superyacht, Lady A. The Jon Bannenberg designed yacht was launched in 1986, built-in Japan by Nishii Zosen-Sterling and named the Southern Cross and was originally owned by disgraced Australian millionaire Alan Bond.

It is widely believed the yacht was bought in 2015 by Lord Sugar but has recently been put up for sale for around £13 million pounds.

As usual in the secretive world of superyachts, it is difficult to find out who are the owners and why the yacht is visiting West India Dock.

The yacht had a major refit in 2015 and is considered one of the most distinctive yachts afloat. the yacht can accommodate 12 guests in a master stateroom, four doubles and one twin guest cabin. The sundeck design has a seated bar, Jacuzzi, and sun awnings with two private lounges at the foredeck.

The Strange Story of the Chinese Junk Keying at Blackwall in 1848

Whilst writing the West India Dock Review and listing the Chinese ships, I was reminded of a story which I have intended to write for some time. The Chinese ships that visited in 2017 were not the first Chinese ships to visit this area, perhaps one of the first was the Keying which was an 800 ton Chinese junk that caused a sensation when it was berthed in East India Docks in 1848.

A  P.L.A monthly article written in 1939 give some of the details.

In 1848, steam was still comparatively in its infancy, and sails and masts were no unusual sight on London River, but many an officer of the watch coming up on deck at Gravesend one day in March must have rubbed his eyes suspiciously at the sight of a Chinese junk in the Thames. There she lay at anchor, her 30ft. bows decorated with two painted eyes, her stern, standing as high as a house, ornamented by a monstrous bird and gaudy flower designs. Strange flags and pieces of red rag fluttered on her masts, and her decks were manned by pale-faced Chinese sailors, wondering at the misty greyness of the Kent landscape.

For almost two years the Keying,a typical Chinese coasting junk, already a hundred years old, had been driven across the Seven Seas to England by Captain Kellett and a party of Englishmen with a Chinese crew. Some said she was originally a pirate ship. This may be just romantic fabrication, but at any rate the junk had an adventurous voyage before she arrived in the Thames.

After a short stay at Gravesend she was towed up the river to the East India Docks and moored in the basin. A hoarding was erected round her, and those wanting to satisfy their curiosity had to pay to do so. For some time the junk was the talk of the day.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert went to see her, and the Queen Mother took a big party. Booklets giving particulars of the vessel, her voyage, and the curios on show were sold at 6d.each and numerous medals were struck to commemorate the event.

The ship’s journey before it arrived in England was unusual to say the least, The Keying was a three-masted Chinese junk which was purchased in August 1846 in secrecy by British businessmen in Hong Kong, defying a Chinese law prohibiting the sale of Chinese ships to foreigners. The Keying was manned by 12 British and 30 Chinese sailors and commanded by Captain Charles Alfred Kellett and sailed round the Cape of Good Hope before arriving in New York City.

The Bay and Harbor of New York” by Samuel Waugh (1814–1885), depicting the Junk Keying moored in New York Harbor in 1847 (c. 1853–1855, Museum of the City of New York).

The following newspaper report gives some illustration of the excitement of the Junk’s arrival in New York in 1847

The Chinese Junk.

The junk, the Key-Ying, which arrived at New York on the 8th of July, excited there the greatest curiosity. Her light and graceful build, her sails of matting suspended to her bamboo yards, her smooth and rapid movement-thanks to which, if we may believe the Chinese crew, they have never suffered from bad weather-in short, the singularity of the furniture, which includes some dogs with tongues as black as ink, brought by the captain, all combined to attract a crowd of spectators. The prettiest women of New “York loved to boast of having visited the Chinese junk. Unfortunately the enterprise does not appear to have had the same success in a pecuniary respect. The Chinese sailors, to the number of twenty-six, not having been paid their wages, have arrested the vessel, and Mr. Lord, their advocate, has pleaded for them before the civil court of the district. The crew claim, in the first place, their arrears of wages from the month of September, 1846 : and in the second, to be sent back to Canton at the expense of the captain. According to the sailor’s accounts, they were only engaged for eight months, and were not to go beyond Batavia and Singapore. The Court decided in favour of the crew, maintained the seizure, ordered the sale of the vessel, and condemned the captain to pay each man one or two hundred dollars, according to rank.

Despite these problems,  the Keying stayed several months in New York attracting thousands of visitors each day who paid 25 cents to board the ship. She then visited Boston in November 1847 before arriving in Britain in 1848.

The excitement of the people in New York was matched by the people in London and even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made the journey to have a look around. The following report was written by someone who was rather excited by it all.

Visit of Her Majesty and the Prince Consort to the Chinese Junk. 

The Queen and Prince Albert, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, and the Prince of Prussia, went to Blackwall, on Tuesday afternoon, to inspect the Chinese junk Keying, recently brought to this country. The royal party left Buckingham Palace shortly after four o’clock. The Queen and Prince Albert, with the princess of Prussia, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Royal, rode in one open carriage and four.

The route taken was down Birdcage-walk, over Westminster Bridge to the Borough road, and thence over London Bridge, through Fenchurch-street, Whitechapel, and the Commercial road, to the East India Docks. The royal party arrived at Blackwall at half-past five, and entered the East India Docks by the Orchard House gate, On the royal carriage drawing up at the entrance of the enclosure, her Majesty alighted, and, taking the arm of the Prince of Prussia, was conducted by Lord Alfred Paget on board the junk. The Prince Consort followed leading the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal. As the Queen placed her foot upon the deck, the Royal standard of England was run up to the summit of the mainmast by the Chinese sailors.

The royal party then proceeded to the poop; from this elevated part of the vessel they were visible to the thousands of spectators on the shipping and dock walls, and their appearance was greeted with tumultuous cheering. To reach this point was a matter of no small difficulty; and we question whether many of our fair readers who may hereafter visit this ship will have boldness to attempt it ; but the Queen mounted the steps leading thereto with the activity of a school girl, and her beaming countenance, when she looked round, evidenced a degree of delight and satisfaction not inconsistent with the character alluded to.

 After the spring heeled Queen Victoria had visited, thousands made their way to Blackwall to look at the Chinese Junk and many commemorative medals and collectables were produced for the general public. Leaflets were produced to attract visitors; the following gives more details of the visits.

The Royal Chinese Junk “KEYING” manned by a Chinese Crew. Visitors received by a Mandarin of rank and Chinese Artist of celebrity. Grand Saloon, gorgeously furnished in the most approved style of the Celestial Empire. Collection of Chinese Curiosities.

The “Keying” is now open for Exhibition, from Ten to six, in the East India Docks, adjoining the Railway and Steam-boat Pier, Blackwall.—Admission, One Shilling.

In time the interest waned and eventually the Keying was sold and towed from London to the river Mersey by a steam tug arriving in 1853. It was moored at the Rock Ferry slipway near Liverpool for public exhibition before being dismantled on the shore near the Tranmere Ferry opposite Liverpool.