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Return of Historic Sailing Vessel ‘Vega’

We don’t know about you, but it seems to us there’s been a decided dearth of good news in this weirdest of years. So we were particularly thrilled to receive, and pass on, the following . . .

You may recall the story in the April 2019 issue about the shipyard accident involving the historic working brigantine Vega. In a nutshell, during a routine haulout at a shipyard in Thailand, the carriage wheels on the marine railway collapsed and the 128-year-old wooden ship (built in 1892 in Norway as a Baltic and North Sea trader) rolled off and onto her port side. A bungled attempt to roll her upright resulted in her rolling over onto her starboard side. The incoming tide did the rest — flooding the interior and ruining all electronics and machinery, as well as all personal possessions of Shane Granger and Meggi Macoun. The couple purchased Vega in 2001, and for the last 15 years, have run the vessel as a nonprofit humanitarian supply line to dozens of small Indonesian islands. Cargos have included everything from medical test equipment and pharmaceuticals to laptop computers, vegetable seeds, school supplies and reading glasses.

Local workers sort health supplies delivered by Vega
Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we were able to deliver all the items the healthpost asked Vega for. Supplies included one portable ultrasound scanner, foetal Doppler heartbeat monitors, clinical blood pressure monitors, expendables like bandages and pharmaceuticals, and many more items. “They have forgotten we exist,” said Pa Hecki, headman of a tiny island in the Banda Sea. “You are our only voice to the outside world.”
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

With almost zero help from the boatyard, a group of volunteers spent the remainder of 2019 — 12 hours a day, seven days a week — restoring Vega to seaworthy condition. Eighteen broken frames and 26 planks were replaced, as were all wiring and instruments. “Without the financial support of our friends who normally provide medical and educational supplies, Vega would have been lost,” says Shane.

Vega being re-planked
The incident occurred on February 8, 2019. Vega went back into the water in November 2019 but was still not operational. We paid a fishing boat to tow us to Rebak Island near Langkawi, Malaysia. The very next morning we hauled out again to finish work the yard refused to address. We went back into the water on December 12, 2019.
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

With the ship finally back afloat and waiting for a weather window at Rebak Marina in Malaysia earlier this year, COVID-19 brought all plans to a screeching halt. Shane, Meggi and the volunteers took a deep breath, then dove into the hundreds of jobs that still needed doing. When it’s possible to finally cast off the docklines, Vega is ready to deliver a long list of supplies and equipment that — after two years away — are needed now more than ever.

Historic Vessel Vega under sail
Vega is a traditional Scandinavian galleass — a type of small commercial vessel once common in northern waters. She is 60 feet on deck. 80 feet LOA, with a 16-ft beam and 8-ft draft.
© 2020 Historic Vessel Vega

Look for more on this uplifting story in the September issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, check out www.vega1892.com to learn more about Vega’s mission, the out-of-the-way places they assist, and, if you are so inclined, how you can help.

4 Comments

  1. anneke dury 1 year ago

    great story, just what we need right now! thanks for the link.

  2. Peter Seyler 4 weeks ago

    A beautiful Vessel and, as one who has some 20++ years background working as an expatriate (Australian) based in in North Sumatra(Medan / Aceh), in Indonesia: with many a holiday stay in Langkawi; great to learn that she has survived and with her help your team are continuing to carry the good work that you do in the Langkawi / Straits of Malacca Area – Thanks for the links – I will continue to follow with interest

  3. John Warbey 3 weeks ago

    Great story, thanks James for sharing.

  4. kristin a anderson 3 weeks ago

    Wonderful…!!! So glad to hear that Vega and her people are doing well again. Good work!!!

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