you only live thrice
THE REBIRTH OF A CARGO-SAILER
We acquired the ship in January 2016 in Trapani, Sicily. Although it looked pretty bad at first sight, the thickness and quality measurements of the steel hull by naval engineer Tobias Blome gave us the confidence we needed to start our project. And we were right. The only parts we had to replace were the deck and the upper structures, which we would have removed anyway, in the course of reconverting it to a sailing ship.
Our man in Trapani
Thanks to the shipbuilder and his team of outstanding craftsmen, the 106-year-old BRIGANTES hull was made fit once again for navigation. Preserving the beautiful plans of the original design, was a challenge that Roberto mastered with exceptional sensitivity and skill.
META was launched on September 7th, 1911 in Hammelwarden near Bremen, just three months after the identical FRIEDRICH – later renamed EYE OF THE WIND – left the shipyard. It was owned by Mr. Oltmann and his 13 co-owners and used for cargo transportation on the Baltic and North Seas. A collision in her first year forced the owners to renew the bow. In 1914 a new captain took command of the ship and acquired 5/33 shares of the vessel.
META survived World War I undamaged, but the ship was transferred to France as a spoil of war. It’s first engine was installed in 1921, while the original rig was left standing. The vessel was transferred to the Mediterranean in 1922, registered in Marseille one year later and sold to captain Carlo Pezzica (Viareggio), who owned it until 1932.
Viareggio, and later Livorno, served as the home port of META until the 1950s. Sardinian talc and Carrara marble are just a few of the bulky goods transported. Often sailing by her side in those years, FLORETTE, the oldest brigantine in the Mediterranean, was still in very good sailing condition thanks to its owner and captain Rony Heynes. Even after the Second World War, META was “still going strong”. In 1954 the old name was replaced by ONICE.
In 1954, the ship underwent radical changes while it was rebuilt at the Benetti shipyard in Viareggio. The rig was removed and the old engine was replaced by a stronger Ansaldo diesel engine. The cargo hatch was removed to leave space for a second one in the front area. A shorter single mast with 2 loading poles, was affixed in the middle of the ship. New structures were built in the aft section while the bow was lifted substantially. Two watertight bulkheads were mounted in the cargo hold, while the hull remained unchanged.
After more than 30 years working for the shipowner Lentini from Pantelleria, ONICE was sold to Mr. Miceli and taken out of service. At the end of her working career, she would transport gas bottles from Sicily to the small island of Pantelleria. The new onwer, Totò Miceli wanted to transform the ship into a rescue craft, yet fortunately, these plans were never put into action. Instead, the ship was left abandoned in a remote area of the port of Trapani (Sicily).
In January 2016, ONICE changed ownership again. A newly founded shipping company became the owner of the historic hull. After having been re-floated by former owner Miceli, ONICE was transferred into theDa.Ro.Mar.Ci.
The ship was towed onto the slipway using traditional techniques. The hull was cleared of rust and debris, which had accumulated over the years. Unusable structures were removed and disposed of, until the hull was empty and ready to be rebuilt.
After the entire deck has been renewed and the hull been preserved, and after the ship has passed the rigorous tests of the classification society RINA, BRIGANTES will be officially christened and launched.