Monday, June 28, 2010

Uræd, the first covered lifeboat.

Proudly displayed in Ålesund is the "Uræd" (fearless), the first covered lifeboat. A strange egg shaped, 18 foot craft which 4 Norwegians sailed across the North Atlantic in the winter of 1904/5.
The story of this craft started in 1898 when the second mate of the steamer Athalia, Ole Brude, witnessed an accident with the launching of one of the ships lifeboats. The incident prompted the 22 year old to design an enclosed, steel hulled lifeboat when he returned to his home town of Ålesund.
In August 1904 with 2 other young seamen and a Norwegian captain called Thoresen the small craft set out from Ålesund. The only means of power was a single small sail.
Although they encountered bad weather, and at one point were completely turned over by a wave, they managed to reach Newfoundland 3 months later. After resting in St Johns they set off again for New York. Once again the weather became very rough and the boat started leaking. By 5th January the boat was leaking at the rate of 24 buckets per hour and they realised they couldn't make it to New York.
At this point a ship offered to take the men on board, but they refused to abandon their craft which had been their home for 5 months, and they instead headed for Gloucester, Massachusetts.
At 1150pm on the 6th of January 1905 the Uræd washed ashore on Pavillion Beach, Gloucester, after a journey which proved the life saving capabilities of this kind of craft.

With the success of the trip it would be easy to assume that there would be a demand for such a craft, but only 23 were ever produced. Even after the loss of the Titanic in 1912 the Brude Lifeboat Company failed to convince the White Star Line of the value of covered lifeboats.
It wasn't until 1977 that the Norwegian government made the use of covered lifeboats mandatory on larger vessels.
Now covered lifeboats are standard. But the obvious question remains. How many lives could have been saved over the years if Ole Brude's invention had been adopted all those years ago?

There's more about the voyage at this link.

I'll have to get back to some nice scenery posts I had planned, but this little bit of history was just too interesting to pass over when I dug out the picture whilst planning an Ålesund post.

Yun's aa fir enoo

No comments:

Post a Comment