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Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Blue Dispenser

The Amis Reunis And The Stone Boat

     The 'Amis Reunis'  was originally an old Portmadoc trading Ketch of some 70 tons which Sir Clough Williams-Ellis had towed over and moored along side an old quay. And there she lay afloat in a fathom and a half of water for some years as a sort of yacht-houseboat, with electricity and water laid on.
    Then the day came when the 'Amis Reunis' needed an underwater caulking and pitching, together with general maintenance. To get at her bottom meant selecting a good spring tide and stranding her on a sand bank, then laid on one side then the other. This was successfully done and the job finished, the 'Amis Reunis' was moored just off th hotel ready for her to be towed to a permanent berth and there securely made fast again. However before that could be successfully done, a sudden gale blew up and, with the spring tide, under her and her anchors dragging, she was carried out towards the island in the estuary. There stranded on the edge of a steep down-slopping shoal, so that when the tide ebbed, she lay over almost on her beam ends, her masts nearly horizontal and her keel in the air. This of course meant that there was every possibility that she would fall on the in-coming tide, and fall she did. It would clearly be an tricky full scale salvage job, or that failing, a total loss. Being particularly proud of his poor old ship the 'Amis Reunis' as Sir Clough Willaims-Ellis was he did all he could to save her. Somehow from somewhere Sir Clough collected a hundred empty barrels which were carried out and packed into her main hold to give her buoyancy, and an elaborate tackle to a winch on shore with which to pull her upright when she floated on the flood. But she never did float, and strain as they might at the winch and pulley tackles, they failed to get her up on an even keel.
    A further plan with yet more barrels to help buoyancy, more manpower on the tackles, and they were bound to shift her on the next spring tide. But before they came again, indeed within a week, the ebb and flow swirling about her hull had so dug her in, and so loaded her hold with sand. They tried digging her out yet there was no hope of shifting her. Day by day and tide by tide the sand further engulfed her; the more quickly because as she settled lower and lower the sands also piled up around her, and soon only her spars and upper works were visible.
   At the time it so happened that Sir Clough was building a new quay to replace the shale bank below the hotel, and noticing that its curved end followed almost exactly the line of the ships bulwarks, he resolved to salvage what he could from the wreck and to construct her more or less as a ship-aground, partly from masonry, partly from the original bits and pieces.
The Amis Reunis {Stone Boat} undergoing a re-fit at Portmeirion.

    Curiously it was whilst on holiday at Portmeirion in 1997, the tides being such that made it possible to walk right across to the island set in the middle of the estuary. Nearing the island I observed that there were old wooden beams just poking up out of the sand, I suggested at the time that this could be part if the wreck of the 'Amis Reunis.' Well What other wreck could be out there buried beneath the sand of the estuary? I tried to clear sand away with my hands to try and expose more of one of the timbers, and it was clear to my wife and myself that the timbers had not simply floated in on one of the tides, but went deep into the sand as though the timbers were part of a wreck, possibly that of the 'Amis Reunis'. Now years after I wish I had found a shovel and gone back out to clear away more of the sand from one of the timbers. Perhaps again, sometime in the near future, when the tides have shifted enough sand to reveal those timbers of what I believe to be of the wreck of the 'Amis Reunis.’
You may recall the above in a previous post. the reson for it's re-posting is this.
{Shifting sands reveal ship wreck in the estuary}

The ever changing sands at Portmeirion have recently exposed the timbers of an old ship wreck a few yeards from the shore at Portmeirion. It might be that this is the wreck of the Amis Reunis, although there is no conformation of this either way. It can only be hoped that something can be done to establish the identityof the wreck, before the sands of Portmeirion reclaim her.

Photos: Rick Davy & Lee Arnall, and portmeirion.
With credits to the Unmutual website.

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