On 18 April 2015, for the first time after a hundred year long gap, Dumfries welcomed the arrival of a tall ship of the size of La Malouine that entered the river Nith and docked at Kingholm Quay harbour. The sailing vessel was on a six-day passage from Granville in France to Dumfries via Workington after having been acquired by Roy Kerr of Port of Dumfries Development Group. I was told that the ship was caught in a pretty bad storm during its journey but was brought in safely by its crew.
Built in Gdansk, Poland, the ship was converted into a brigantine by the Dutch designer Olivier van Meer in 1992, and, named ‘Willem’, enjoyed a career in the charter business at the Baltic Sea, carrying sailing guests, taking part in match races and participating in many sailing ship events. In 2010 it was sold to a French owner and re-named ‘La Malouine’. It took Roy Kerr three years to buy her and bring here to Scotland. Tall and elegant, the brigantine triggers romantic childhood dreams of exploration and adventures. It’s a delight to observe it in the full rig!
With La Malouine’s arrival to Kingholm Quay Doonhamers place high hopes on opening a new chapter of Dumfries sailing history, to sparkle interest in sailing in the local community, particularly in youngsters and kids, and re-connect people with the river Nith that recently received such a bad rep as a flood-prone nuisance. Volunteers are invited to lend a helping hand to restore the ship to its full potential. Roy wants La Malouine to play a role in helping disadvantaged children as well.
Hundreds of people came to Kingholm Quay throughout the day to have a look at the tall ship. Children were welcomed aboard and got their little hands on everything they could (or rather were allowed) intent on getting a rare first-hand experience of being on a real vessel. This area of Dumfries is already popular with weekenders. La Malouine’s presence can enhance their experience.
Kingholm Quay dwellers can see the ship’s masts from Kingholm Loaning, some are lucky to enjoy the view from their back gardens on a day to day basis. One such neighbour shared pictures of La Malouine coming to dock on Pet Forums. The response was: ‘But what do the dogs make of it?’ Well, I wonder…