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Crowd gathers to cheer on return of Dutch sailing vessel The Albatros to Wells harbour

PUBLISHED: 14:19 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 24 May 2019

Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell

Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell Photography 2018

It was the sight dozens of onlookers had been waiting for - the return of the Dutch sailing vessel, Albatros to Wells harbour.

Albatros returns to Wells harbour. Captain Ton Brouwer on the Albatros. Pictures: David BaleAlbatros returns to Wells harbour. Captain Ton Brouwer on the Albatros. Pictures: David Bale

It was the sight dozens of onlookers had been waiting for - the return of the Dutch sailing vessel, The Albatros to Wells harbour.

The 33m-long ship had been undergoing its three-yearly maintenance at Great Yarmouth, and it returned on the morning tide on Friday, May 24, after 16 days away from home.

The 120-year-old sailing ship provides a nautical landmark for thousands of visitors to Wells, and is permanently moored alongside the quay and used as a bar, restaurant, music venue and B&B.

The former Dutch cargo ship, the last cargo ship to bring goods to Wells, was built in 1899 as a North Sea clipper and is one of the oldest sailing ships still afloat.

Albatros returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: David BaleAlbatros returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: David Bale

Captain Ton Brouwer said: "I'm very delighted to be back in Wells, as I've been working 16 days flat-out in Yarmouth.

"It was the first time in years that, as part of the maintenance, we had to replace some plates under the fo'c'sle , so we were at the Alicat Workboats shipyard longer than expected.

"We had to take the floor up, and clear and clean everything metal underneath, We needed to replace the plates and then weld them back, and it took a week longer than expected."

As part of the three-yearly maintenance, the ship's hull is cleaned with high-pressure washing.

Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell

Mr Brouwer added: "We put one coat of primer on, then two coats of anti-fouling paint.

"The ship covers a 200 sq m area so there's a lot of work to do.

"And we have to make sure the ship does not rust.

"I don't know how much it cost to insert the plates, as I've not had the bill yet, but they needed replacing.

Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell Albatross returns to Wells harbour. Pictures: Jack Mitchell

"At certain places they were too thin.

"We cannot let the ship sink in Wells harbour.

"This is a 120-year-old ship and it needs to be in good condition."

It took nine hours for the ship to sail from Yarmouth to the fairway at Wells.

They then waited for the morning tide to bring her in. "We had a good easterly wind," he added.

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