Sunday, 24 April 2011

Uncovering Light Vessel21

A unique history has recently been discovered on board the Light Vessel 21, currently moored at Gillingham Pier and undergoing renovation into a creative, collaborative workspace by Gary Weston and Paivi Seppala.
Ordered by Trinity House and built in 1930, LV21 was subsequently launched in 1931, before being stationed at Goodwin Sands in 1936. However, it was during war time that its most interesting episode occurred, and it was the discovery of artefacts – a painting; diaries; a paper boat; a knitted balaclava, complete with ear flaps for radio earphones during cold weather - on board LV21 that led to a whole new experience being showcased.
In 1944, the very first all female crew was appointed to man a light vessel. Elsa, Trinny and Lucy spent months aboard, fighting boredom with painting, knitting and making paper boats. They recorded their thoughts and feelings in the diaries and each day was much the same. Until a strange man, a man whose name - nor even if friend or foe - they never did find out, bumped, literally, into their boat. Fearing him dead, they pulled him aboard and nursed him back to health. They shared experiences, traded knitting and painting skills with him and in return he taught them Morse code. But upon regaining his strength, he left them, bereft.
The one and only clue they ever found on him was a letter. A letter, written in Morse code, which, when translated, read:
“They have to be stopped. He has to go. Knit one. Pearl one. Drop one."