Alan Priddy receives an HMS Diamond ship’s plaque from Commander Marcus Hember - credit Chris Davies
ecause the boat – to be named Excalibur after the Arthurian legend – will take passengers throughout its life, it had to be built to a commercial coding, which entailed every major stage of the construction being signed off by an independent surveyor. And of course you can’t just snap your fingers and expect a surveyor to drop in straight away whenever you want. Similarly, any changes in design (and there were one or two) had to be agreed before work could go ahead, and therein lies the reason for what turned not just into delay but an increase in activity as the timeline became more compressed. When Priddy realised there was no realistic chance of launching the boat and finishing a programme of sea trials before the October deadline, he decided that rather than simply cancelling all the arrangements, he would go ahead with them anyway.
supporting a number of Team Britannia’s crew members. As luck would have it, the week all these events were going on in Gibraltar saw the Royal Navy type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond in port after a couple of months in the Mediterranean in an operation aimed at countering the trafficking of illegal arms and migrants in the waters around Libya.
Blesma crew members at Gibraltar’s monument to the Royal Marines in Ocean Village - credit Chris Davies
“We’ve had a few setbacks throughout the course of this project,” explains Priddy, “and we’ve always looked for ways to turn them into positives.” And so it was that the Sunborn gala dinner was transformed into a champagne and canapés reception with the aim of raising money for two worthy charities – the Calpe House Trust, which provides a “home from home” in London for Gibraltarians who have to visit for medical treatment, and Blesma, the charity for limbless veterans
Alan Priddy stands beside the newly turned over boat - credit Chris Davies
“It started out with them inviting some of us aboard for a tour of the ship,” says Priddy. “So we decided to return the compliment by inviting them to our reception on the Sunborn. It was quite something when Commander Marcus Hember and around half of his crew turned up in full dress uniform and medals!” And apart from swelling the numbers to guarantee a lively evening, the two charities benefitted from the fundraising to the tune of around £7,500 each. While the boat construction proceeded at a much slower pace, Team Britannia have kept their many followers worldwide up to date with regular postings on their Facebook page and Twitter, along with updates and monthly newsletters available on their own website. And while the majority of those are words and photographs, the occasional videos add an extra dimension, none more so than the one filmed on the day in early December when the hull was turned over.
“The boat was built upside down,” explains Priddy, “as it made assembling the frames and attaching all the plates a lot easier. But the actual process of turning the boat right side up was quite nervewracking.”
Team Britannia posing with a Thundercat powerboat in Catalan Bay - credit Chris Davies
In a painstaking operation which lasted all of a bitterly cold day, the upsidedown boat was first jacked up onto wooden blocks before being attached to an “A” frame at the bow, with a crane supporting the stern. PREMIER MAGAZINE
Published on Apr 23, 2015