To promote recognition of Henry Sinclair, 14th Century explorer of North America, and to celebrate the 600th anniversary in 1998
February 5, 1997 Issue
Published by Prince Henry Project Committee
65 Hartwell Street, West Boylston, MA, 01583, USA
Phone: 508-835-2900 Fax: 508-835-2944 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HTML by John S. Quarterman
In Scotland. a group by the name of "St. Clair 1398/1998 Ltd" has been formed for the purpose of building and sailing a replica 14th Century Scottish Galley across the Atlantic.
The company holds a charitable status in the United Kingdom. Leaders of this Scottish team are Chris Minty, Derek Moss, and Capt. Neil Stewart. Minty is an experienced scientific expedition leader, with degrees in environmental chemistry and natural resource management. Serving in the financial position, Moss, Chairperson of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (Edinburgh Centre), is a retired manager of IBM in Europe. Having sailed across the Atlantic several times in self-built boats, Capt. Stewart is a retired Master Mariner with the Norwegian Navy and is in charge of Technical Operations.
According to Capt. Stewart, the construction drawings are completed. The ship measures 60 feet long, with a beam of 15 feet and a depth of 6 feet. Lloyds Register of the Shipbuilding Bureau was consulted for safety considerations. Provision has been made within the 13-1/2" diameter mast of about 58 feet tall to hide the modern electrical wiring for radar, radio, and lighting. By mid year 1997 Captain Stewart is expected to select his crew, totaling a dozen volunteers. They will undergo training as Atlantic sailors during the Summer and Fall.
Boat builder Iain Richardson of Orkney has studied the plans and is prepared to start construction in Stromness, Orkney, after some further design modifications and funds become available. The timeframe has become critical and it is imperative that the keel be laid within the next several months.
The itinerary of the voyage re-enactment is being prepared by Pete Cummings, Chairperson of the 600th Celebration Committee in Massachusetts. Tentative plans call for gala sea trials in the summer & fall of 1997. Then in June 1998 the replica ship Henry St. Clair will depart from Kirkwall in Orkney. Flotillas will accompany the ship at all ports of call, which are Shetland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New England.
Such events as the Nova Scotia Tattoo in Halifax, the Yankee Homecoming Festival in Newburyport, MA, and the Newport Festival in Rhode Island are being considered for major celebrations. In addition, Clan Sinclair and Clan Gunn have scheduled 600th Anniversary gatherings at the New Hampshire Highland Games and in Westford, MA. Westford is the archaeological site of a stone effigy of Sir James Gunn, who accompanied Prince Henry in 1398.
While fund raising was very successful initially, it has not been sustained in recent months. Categories of contribution offer several levels of giving, from $40 Bronze Donations, to Silver at $1500 and Gold at $15,000. Derek Moss is actively seeking the larger-sized Sponsorships from companies that may have an interest in being involved with this exciting and adventurous expedition.
Six centuries ago Prince Henry Sinclair was accompanied by Antonio Zeno as Navigator, Sir James Gunn as Lieutenant, and between 200 and 300 knights, monks, and other crewmen. They followed a map researched by Zeno and his brother, Nicolo. Perhaps they are most remembered for their harmonious relations with the Native Americans, whom they befriended. Their cultural diversity and peaceful manner are models for us today!
In the year ahead, members of the 600th Celebration Committee anticipate intensive efforts will be needed to provide needed services to the many organizations worldwide which want to share the anniversary of Prince Henry. More staff and operating funds must be developed. Volunteers are welcome! Your financial support will help, too.
Henry Sinclair associated closely with the Scottish Masons. He was the Grand Master of Scottish Masons, an organization that had evolved from the suppressed Templars. Many of its members lived in the area near Sinclair's Rosslyn Castle. Their meeting place was Balantrodoch, a distance of only 15 miles. Ever since their forefathers, seventy years earlier, were exiled from the Holy Land and Europe, they had hidden their Templar origins. They eagerly wanted to find a land that was free from suppression, free from the fear of being put to death.
Sinclair was installed as the Jarl of Orkney and Lord of Shetland when he was only 24 years old. The earldom included the Faeroes, the Orkneys, the Shetlands. Sinclair held his appointment at the pleasure of King Hakon VI of Norway. Norway had ruled the islands since the ninth century. But, as "Jarl", he was next to royalty; there was almost no supervision from the Norwegian throne. Thus, he was called "Prince". He had authority to stamp coins, to make laws, remit crimes, wear a crown, and have a sword carried before him.
Before he was 35 years old, he constructed Kirkwall Castle for his headquarters in Orkney. A fleet of ships was built, larger than Norway's navy. Henry set out to affirm his rule the Faeroe Isles in the name of the King of Norway. Norway was hard-pressed to defend itself from Baltic pirates without Sinclair's assistance. It is interesting to note that Prince Henry brooded over his lack of guns. This was a new technology, developed at that time by the naval powers in the Mediterranean area. Cannons had proven effective for Carlo "the Lion" Zeno in defending Venice.