History of the Brigantine ROMANCE

The Brigantine Romance started her life in the Ring Anderson Shipyard, designed for the Greenland trade. In 1965 she was purchased to be used in Mitchener's movie Hawaii. Rerigged by Commander Alan Villiers, she became a faithful re-creation of an 1800's vessel. After her stint in the movie, she was laid up, awaiting a new owner. Captain & Mrs. Kimberly were looking for a vessel to call home. When they found out about the brigantine in Hawaii, it did not take long to make the deal. They had found a vessel that would serve them and their guests well for many years.

Grethe built
Movie "Hawaii"
Kimberly's purchase Romance
1st Virgin Island Season
Galapagos Cruise
1st World Cruise
Pitcairn Island
2nd World Cruise
Grenada Crisis
Quebec Parade of Sail
Hurricane Klaus
Romance's 50th Anniversary
Romance's 20th Cruise Year
Movie "Pieter von Schulton"
Movie "Amazing Grace"
Romance sold
ex Romance scuttled

TV Films
American Adventure
Virgin Quest
Dutch Piracy in the Caribbean
Atlantic Realm
Tall Ship on the Spanish Main
TV Commercials
Old Spice (3)
Cutty Sark (2)
Dortmunder Beer

Over the years, the 90' Romance (110' overall) completed two world circumnavigations and at least five seperate trips to the South Pacific. They spent twenty plus years carrying guests in the Virgin Islands and on Down-Island trips. Capt. Kimberly, who holds the unique distinction of dual Master's papers, Master of Sail and Master of Steam, ran a tight ship, teaching his crew the art of marlinspike seamanship and a love of squarerigged sailing ships. Many of his crew went on to become Masters in their own right, sailing aboard some of the greatest sailing ships on the sea today. If you do a search for the Romance on the net, you'll meet some of these amazing people.

Mrs. Kimberly, Gloria, was always at Skipper's side, dividing her time between sail handling, ship maintenance and caring for crew and guests. From a galley not much larger than a closet, came a steady flow of great meals. She shopped the local markets and provided meals that were both delicious and hearty. Throughout her travels, she continued to take notes and draw the amazing things they saw in over 25 years of exploration. She is now in the process of writing a book on the Romance, an odyssey of years of travel aboard a very special ship. The story of her and Skipper, the way they met and their wedding in the South Pacific itself seems like the stuff of dreams.....but all true.

One can not help but admire their life of dedication to the Romance and the incredible experiences they had during their world and South Pacific Cruises. Today in the sterilized world of cruise ships and antiseptic accommodations demanded by pampered travelers, the Romance stood in stark contrast. The care, maintenance and sailing of a square-rigged vessel is nothing short of Herculean. The Kimberlys took the back-breaking work in stride. They fought unbelievable battles against Mother Nature and came out all but unscathed.

The Romance was a true working vessel of the 1800's. No plastic parts or mechanized amenities. That was they way they wanted it to be. Hemp and canvas, not nylon and plastic. Passengers stepped onto the deck and into a time machine that would change their lives. The Romance was comfortable and sound. She visited ports-of-call that today would be nearly impossible to visit, including repeated visits to Pitcairn Island where the Kimberlys and crew became close friends with the descendants of the Bounty.

Today the Romance lies submerged, scuttled after being severely damaged by hurricane Luis. There will never be another Romance. I could have told you about technical specs and cruises, but to me, the essence of the Romance was the spirit. All who sailed aboard as guests and the hardy young crew who learned the ropes aboard this ship would likely agree. I look forward to buying a copy of the book that Gloria is writing. It will tell all in her wonderful descriptive and expressive style; say all and be the final word on the life of a truly extraordinary ship.

For an exceptional history of the BRIGANTINE ROMANCE, written by Capt. Dan Moreland, see Story of the Brigantine Romance.

In closing, I would like to include for you the letter which the Kimberlys sent out, announcing the loss of their beloved Romance. Here her words speak of this loss and the passing of the Romance. If you are moved by the sight of squaresails, if you long to find a way to examine your own life and learn about yourself while under the spell of brigantine time travel, then look towards the few privately owned ships that sail today. You may find the same magic I found aboard the brigantine Romance.


1936 - 1995

The Brigantine Romance, our seagoing home for 23 years, and 125,000 miles of deepwater voyaging, is no more. She suffered extensive structural damage from Hurricane Luis, while laid up in West End, Tortola; and she was scuttled. Her last owner, Morgan Sanger, had spent several years rebuilding her, and planned to bring her to the Great Lakes next summer. It was not to be.

Romance was a wonderfully seaworthy ship. It was marvelous to see her riding out Hurricane Klaus, well south-east of Bermuda in 1984. Though hove to in the wildest seas imaginable, she took almost no solid water on deck. Ironic then, that she was wrecked in a "safe" harbor. Luis did the unthinkable, unleashing its full fury into West End -- from the west. Romance lay tied to a makeshift dock, without her engine, anchors, even her steering gear...

Romance (the Grethe) was built as a galeas (Baltic Trader), by the renowned J. Ring Anderson Shipyard in Svendborg, Danmark in 1936. She traded in the North Sea, Baltic and as far north as Iceland. We know that once, as a three year old vessel, she was caught in the ice, and narrowly escaped.

In 1965, sea author Alan Villiers, converted her to an authentic 1840 brigantine, to star with Julie Andrews in James Michener's epic film "Hawaii". The conversion won a Danish industry award; and she has been called the loveliest of the smaller square riggers.

Romance was our only home from 1966 to 1989. Together we sailed extensively through the South Pacific, and twice around the world. She carried stuns'ls --the extra wings of the clipper ship era, as she does in the photo above--for 26 straight days crossing the South Atlantic in 1977, a modern record which may never be broken. Her Caribbean cruises gave thousands a chance, if they wished, to "pull braces" before the mast in square rig. She made boys into men; Masters and Mates of many of todays sailing vessels. They are her finest legacy.

Along with ship lovers everywhere, we will mourn her passing.

Arthur & Gloria Kimberly
January 1996

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