UL (1911)
(Later Vanduara, Sayonara, HMS Sayonara, Barcarolle)
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Sept. 2, 2013

My grandfather served as a member of the crew about this luxury steam yacht from 1935 to 1937. He had previously served as crew aboard the steam yacht Latharna from 1931-1934. Originally built in 1911 for the the Austrian Archduke Karl Stephen and commissioned as “UL” she became “Aurora” in 1919 until 1925 then she was renamed “Vanduara” in 1927. she then became “Sayonara” in 1930 flying under the flag of New York yacht club.The owner was Anthony J. Drexel.

In 1935 she was purchased by Major Ralph S. Grigg and remained in his service until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 when she was taken into service with the Royal Navy as HMS Sayonara and used as an armed boarding vessel. In 1946 she finally ended her days as the “ Barcarolle”. A year later in 1947/48 she was destroyed by fire in Southampton as an insurance fraud by the then present owner Derek Clayton-Wright he was fined and imprisoned for 3 years.
Most of her maritime service was in the Mediterranean, a book was published by Isabel Anderson LL.D Litt.D. “A yacht in Mediterranean seas” published in 1930 by Boston Marshall Jones company 428pp. Which tells of her three month cruise around the Mediterranean in 1929 with her husband and a group of there friends. A travel log of the places they visited. Her husband had chartered the SY Sayonara for this trip, she was sailing under the burgee of the New York yacht club at that time. With a crew of 34 and an English captain. Isabel Anderson (1876-1948) was a published travel author and a Boston heiress she was married to ambassador Larz Anderson.  Isabel inherited $17,000,000 at the age 5 (1881) through her mothers family which owned a shipping empire The “Black horse” line.

Dave Brookes 

Apr. 1, 2013

For some years, I have been searching for information regarding the SS Barcarolle and recently came across your website, I think you might be interested in my story.

My family lived in England and following the War, my parents decided to emigrate to South Africa.   At that time the major shipping lines were fully booked and, I believe, had waiting lists of a couple of years.   My father heard of a passenger ship, owned by a private company, which was making the voyage from Southampton to Cape Town in spring of 1946.   He booked passage for my parents and myself.   I was 9 years old at the time and although not familiar with all the details, have vivid memories of the trip.  
The ship was scheduled to sail from Southampton,however, a few weeks prior to departure date, my father was informed that "due to some problems" she would now sail from Calais and that we had to make our own way to that port.   Consequently, we took the ferry and night train to Calais to board the ship there.   The voyage was to take six weeks with the route through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal then down the east coast of Africa, with scheduled stops at Port Said, Aden, Mombasa, Durban and on to Cape Town.

I don't recall how many passengers there were but believe it was somewhere around 80 plus crew.   There was no air conditioning and I recall that when we were in the Red Sea the heat was such that we all took our mattresses and slept on the deck under the stars.  We went ashore at Port Said and then continued on to Aden.   When in port there, there was a 'safety inspection' and I believe that the First Officer had grave concerns as to the seaworthiness of the ship.  He considered leaving the ship at that point but apparently had a considerable financial investment in the 'company' and for that reason stayed on board.

Shortly after departing Aden, one of the officers came down with severe heat stroke.  There was no official doctor or medical facility on board, however there was a doctor among the passengers and my mother was a registered nurse.   She assembled a team of volunteers from among the passengers and they did round-the-clock nursing care with the best equipment that they could.  Although, gravely ill, the officer eventually survived!

Conditions on board were rapidly worsening and many children developed scurvy due to the lack of adequate diet.   Due to a shortage of fresh water, the bath-tubs in the passenger quarters were filled and I recall that was the only 'fresh' water available!

When we eventually reached the port of Mombasa, a number of passengers left the ship and continued their journey to South Africa overland. We spent three days at a hotel there in absolute luxury but my family re boarded the ship to continue the voyage to Cape Town.   However, that was not to be the end of the adventure.
A couple of days before reaching Durban, the passengers were notified that - for reasons that I don't recall - the ship would be terminating the voyage there and not continuing to Cape Town as planned.   I recall that my father and some of the other passengers held a meeting in the lounge and attempted to get reimbursed for the remainder of the pre -paid trip.

I believe that this was never provided.   My parents eventually settled in Natal - now Natal Kwa Zulu and we remained there until 1957, when due to the increasingly deteriorating political and racial situation, we returned to England.   Later, we heard that the SS Barcarolle was destroyed in a fire while in Southampton and that it was believed to be arson.

Katharine Kooy
Toronto, Canada

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