Grethe Witting Sank in the harbor of Mangalia

Very upset, frustrated and also angry I finally report about the tragedy around the Grethe Witting, the beautiful Lowestoft Lugger that we sailed from Rostock(Germany) to Mangalia (Romania). Many people wrote me emails after several reporters published the pictures of the sunken Grethe Witting on the net. As I am still involved in lawsuits it is not possible to provide all information at this moment. How did it come? Well that is the $1.000.000 question.


When we arrived in Romania we planned to set up traditional sailing charter on the Black Sea. For financial assistance with the purchase of the ship I interested a dutch private investor that provided a loan for 5 years. Immediately after arrival we ran already into big problems due to a difference in opinion regarding how to run a ship (..):  Me with my 5 years experience on board of charter vessels and  my training at the Enkhuyzer Zeevaart School  and my investors of whom I doubt that he ever sailed before. It was clear that there only can be one skipper on board, so it went…. My Dutch investor started a legal procedure to get possession of the ship without informing me and since we are in Romania, the court simply honors the request without hearing the counterpart, me. As a result the ship was confiscated in November 2008 and by an auction organized in June 2009 sold to the investor. I was ordered to leave the ship and the ship officially came in the hands of my investor, the new owner according to Romanian law. On the 1st of October 2009 the Grethe Witting  sank. Some suggest that it could have been because of the age, but we know better; if you do not know how to take care of a ship she will eventually can sink.

Grethe Witting, you brought us from Holland over the dangerous Biscay, along the African coast to Malta, led us through the Greek Archipel and finally delivered us safe in Romania. Now you are there, 7 meters below sea level waiting to be saved…. for sure this was not necessary.

We are now in court where I contest the decision of the Romanian court. That is the short version.

How will it be solved? That is probably a $2.000.000 question as they entire interior as well as all installations are destroyed.

To be continued….


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4 Responses to “Grethe Witting Sank in the harbor of Mangalia”

  1. Mircea Says:


    Her story is something that shouldn’t came to an end at the Mangalia dockside. As a romanian Finn sailor and skipper on other cruising boats, I was badly dissapointed when I saw her deck a few meters below water – I have seen more youtube sailing clips with her, including the Biscay passage. This ending seems to be very unfair for the ship. I know that 2 salvage opperations were planned – but until now, nothing happened. Try to get some sponsores, or just try something – the ship seems to be still intact, but near her we have a new wrek – a fishing ship, right in the front of her bow. Don’t wait after the law – when everything will be set according to the laws, Grethe will be nothing more then a wrek – and from my point of view, if her story should end – this should happend offshore, between the waves, when her moment will arrive, not at a foreign dockside…

  2. Rich Lindeman Says:

    Hello, I am so upset to hear of this tragedy. My great Grandfather built this ship in England, he is one of the original Colby Brothers. It was my dream to set sail on this ship one day and step foot on the very blood sweat, and tears that embrassed the ship herself from my late great family members. I only learned of her history not even two years ago and have not stopped thinking about the day I could go and see her. It was when looking up trips for next year that I came across this news, and my heart sank just as she did. Please tell me what I can do to help this horrible event be justified. I will do anything I can to help.

  3. Sved Uwe Dressler Says:

    Hallo Markus,
    welch eine Tragödie. Ich habe jetzt erst die Tage genutzt meine Datenbank abzugleichen und das stieß ich auf Grethe Witting. Die Seite ging nicht mehr und ich googelte.
    Ich war im September 2009 mit der kleinen UBENA in Mangalia auf Durchreise, vielleicht kannst Du Dich erinnern.
    Wie ist die Situation jetzt? Trotzdem alles Gute für 2011!

  4. robert suffling Says:

    The original owner of this fine ship is a distant ancestor of mine. Norford Suffling and the ship originally bore his name. I also only discovered this to find out she had sunk. I would love to see her rescued and will help if i can.

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