2007-07-19 / News

One of Dunkirk's 'Little Ships' summers in Jamestown

By Sam Bari

A bird's-eye view of the Atlantide, which made two trips at Dunkirk during World War II. The vessel is docked this summer at Conanicut Marina. Photo by Nate Bousquet A bird's-eye view of the Atlantide, which made two trips at Dunkirk during World War II. The vessel is docked this summer at Conanicut Marina. Photo by Nate Bousquet A page from history is amongst us. Her name is Atlantide, and she is spending the summer in Jamestown. She was one of the hundreds of "Little Ships" at the battle of Dunkirk in 1940.

Her crew of five is working hard to put the 122-foot motorsailor in perfect shape for a visit by her present owner, billionaire Tom Perkins, of San Francisco, at the end of July, said First Mate Robert Bolt of the U.K.

"Originally christened Caleta in 1930, the ship was renamed Atlantide by a later owner, Count Nicolo delle Rose of Italy," Bolt said.

According to the ship's cook, Jessica Marks of New Zealand, "Atlantide spent five years in the Mediterranean after finishing a total restoration in 1999." Marks joined the crew just before the vessel left the Med to sail to Antiqua and St. Martin where the boat wintered before coming to Jamestown.

Atlantide is an unusual craft with a distinctive sail configuration. Her two masts are squarerigged for downwind sailing and her sail inventory includes three headsails and a staysail off the stern. She is additionally powered by a pair of eight-cylinder Gardner diesel engines, making Atlantide a true motor-sailor. The boat is 122- feet long, with an 18-foot beam, a 7-foot draft, and displaces 180 tons.

As described in the ship's bio, Atlantide has a history that authors and filmmakers dream about. Designed by English naval architect Alfred Mylne and constructed in 1930 by Philip and Son at Dartmouth, England, the ship has been in continuous commission until her recent rebuild that was completed in 1999 at Gosport, in Portsmouth, U.K.

The vessel was originally built for Sir William Burton KBE (Knights of the British Empire), a distinguished yachtsman who was helmsman of Shamrock IV, the J Class challenger for the America's cup in 1930. Sir William owned and raced a succession of successful 12-meter yachts in regattas all around the East and South coasts, ending with Cowes week in August. Caleta (now Atlantide) followed the yachts, providing accommodation for the owner and his guests at each regatta.

In 1939, she was requisitioned into the Royal Navy, and in 1940 she joined the mass of "Little Ships" that evacuated the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk harbor and the beaches immediately to the East. Caleta was an active participant, setting out for Dunkirk on May 31, 1939, in company with the yachts Glala and Amulree.

She operated under intense enemy shellfire and dive-bomber attacks through May 31 and June 1, during which time she assisted various vessels and embarked 35 troops from the disabled ALC5, which she took in tow. The tow line broke twice, but was repaired and on June 1, the boat was delivered safely at Sheerness.

After the war, she was bought by a Greek ship owner who changed her name to Ariane. Later she was renamed Corisande and based in Antibes where she was used in the film 'Tender is the Night' with Ingrid Bergman. In the 1980's she was bought by Count Nicolo delle Rose who gave her the present name of Atlantide.

In 1998, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Thomas Perkins of San Francisco acquired Atlantide and she underwent a total rebuild. The hull was reconstructed at the Manoel Island Shipyard of Malta and the new superstructure and interior was provided by Camper and Nicholson, of Gosport, and C & C Designs of Norfolk, England. The boat was relaunched in August 1999. Atlantide will be put to use as a support ship for her owner's racing fleet, by coincidence the same use as her first owner intended.

Atlantide owner, Thomas James Perkins, is an American businessman, capitalist, and one of the founders of leading venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. According to Yachting Magazine, he was also the first general manager of Hewlett Packard's computer business, the venture capitalist behind Amazon, AOL and Genentech, and perhaps the only man to have been chairman of three different New York Stock Exchange-listed companies at the same time.

In July 2006, Perkins formally launched his 289-foot sailing yacht named "The Maltese Falcon" - one of the world's three largest privately owned yachts.

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