Frigate For Sale

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Feel like taking up the life of a pirate? Feel like a bit of commerce raiding on the high seas? Or would you just fancy reliving the glory days of the Royal Navy when Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson led the Royal Navy to victory at Trafalgar? Here's your chance!

Are you bored by your Learjet? Fed up with your private island? Then why not splash out on a full-size replica of an 18th Century British frigate, complete with 12 cannon? One care- ful owner and an absolute snip at £3million.

The Grand Turk is the ultimate millionaire's plaything. I know because I built her.

She was commissioned by ITV for the Hornblower series starring Ioan Gruffudd in the title role and Robert Lindsay, and was the first wooden frigate to be built for more than 150 years.

I never expected it to be easy – after all, my family has experience of shipbuilding that goes back to the 12th Century – but we were hit by so many disasters, including droughts, animal sacrifices and gun-wielding debt collectors, that I thought I might die trying.

My first task, when I won the commission in 1996, was to find the best place to build such a ship because, sadly, Britain no longer had enough skilled shipwrights to rule the waves. We finally chose Marmaris in Turkey, which had a highly skilled workforce and an enviable reputation within the industry. We aimed to start work in December 1996 and deliver the ship for the beginning of filming in Yalta, on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, the following summer.

But when we arrived in Marmaris, the timber we had ordered – 200 hardwood trees – was not there. A drought in Africa meant the trees could not be floated down-river for export and we had to scour Europe for replacement wood. At the same time, Turkey's worst weather in 50 years caused long power cuts.

It's a pretty good read. Getting the Grand Turk built was an adventure all by itself. She is actually a replica of a ship that would probably not have still be in service by the time of Trafalgar (and would not have fought in the line, anyway), being based on the design of HMS Blandford, a ship built in 1741. Her 12-cannon are also much lighter armament than a typical fifth-rate would have carried. They would have been armed with 32-44 cannon. But she is a handsome ship. Here's the Grand Turk's website with more pictures and a description of her features.

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