Crew members Aileen Croft and Jacqui Webb hard at work in NWRC's Sports Hall.
The crew of the Ha Long Bay Vietnam Clipper Boat sailed out of the city on Sunday night with two fully repaired sails – with a little bit of help from North West Regional College (NWRC).
The 18-strong crew, which includes local man Gerard Doherty, arrived in Derry~Londonderry a little over a week ago but discovered their sails had been damaged by the wind.
Needing somewhere that could provide a large space to lay out the sails for essential repairs, the crew looked to the college’s Strand Road Campus where staff happily let them use the Sports Hall.
Gerard Doherty, Crew member, said: “Our last leg was across the Atlantic where the wind caused damage to the large billow sails at the front. We had travelled 44,000 miles without this ever happening.
“When we arrived into the city we were conscious that we needed somewhere large and dry where we could lay out our sails to repair, so I got on the phone to NWRC to ask if they could help. The college is in an ideal location as it’s close to the boat and close to the accommodation of the crew. My daughter Jane previously studied for a HND in Health and Social Care at the campus, so I knew they would help.
“The college has been exceptional in their help to us. Gary Bradley, estates manager, did everything he could to accommodate and support us. All the staff have made us feel so welcome and come in and check with us to ensure we’re getting on ok.
“It’s a difficult process to do the repairs because we must be careful that we don’t put any of the sails out of shape, so using the college facilities has been ideal.
“We’re exceptionally lucky to have the skills of Jacqui Webb on our team who has been flat out on the sewing machine making the repairs. Which is made so much easier by having a large surface to work on.”
Gary Bradley, Estates Manager at NWRC said: “The college was delighted to offer help to the crew of the Ha Long Boat. The Foyle Maritime Festival is a wonderful occasion for the city and we’re happy to play our part in supporting the crew. Seeing the entire floor of the college’s Assembly Hall draped in the clipper’s sails was a great sight. We wish the team all the best for the next leg of their journey.”