Momentum building for Atlantic crossing

European cities, media gearing up for event

Sea Trek 2001, the re-enactment of the epic Atlantic immigration of 19th century LDS converts, is gaining momentum in Europe among members, cities and the media.

Departing Statsraad Lehmkuhl underway in full sail offers a view common in an earlier century. Typically, a quarter of a million people visit such ships in port.
Departing Statsraad Lehmkuhl underway in full sail offers a view common in an earlier century. Typically, a quarter of a million people visit such ships in port. Photo: Photo courtesy Sea Trek Foundation

The international event includes a convoy of 10 of the world's largest tall ships that will set sail with passengers from around the globe on Aug. 7, 2001 in Esbjerg, Denmark, and after stopping at 10 ports, will finally dock on Oct. 4 in New York City.

Nearly 900 berths have been booked on this, the largest fleet in recent memory of sailing ships to gather and cross the Atlantic. In addition, European cities and media are gearing up for the event. A high-profile board of directors has been also been appointed.

William K. Sadleir, chairman of Sea Trek Foundation, said that with posters and information now disseminated to members in Europe — spread from Italy to Finland — most registrations coming in are from Europeans.

"We are highly confident that within the next six to eight weeks, all the berths on the ships will be filled," he said.

Sea Trek 2001 may garner even more press attention than the 1997 wagon trek re-enactment, he believes. "These tall ships are media magnets and they typically attract as many as a quarter of a million visitors in each of the port cities they visit. In addition to the tall ships, the historical context with this event and the growing fascination with Utah's heritage, preceding the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, make Sea Trek 2001 a compelling international news story.

"In England, for example, the BBC has announced its intention to broadcast the 'Saints on the Seas' oratorio to its audience of 17 million viewers."

Interest in Sea Trek 2001

Local leaders in Europe are reporting more interest as well.

"We are grateful for Sea Trek and consider it a gift and an invaluable help to bring the Church out of obscurity in Denmark," said President Erik Ryttersgaard of the Aarhus Denmark Stake. "It seems to be part of a divinely inspired plan.

"We have never before experienced an event where the name of the Church has been involved that has attracted so much attention as Sea Trek will. We are overwhelmed, and I feel confident that many members from the two stakes in Denmark will take part in the activities in Esbjerg and Copenhagen."

He said Esbjerg expects 600,000 visitors to the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race, which will be held at the same time. "The mayor of Esbjerg, Johnny Sotrup, was once an exchange student in Utah and has good memories of that time."

In England, the local leaders are also very interested, said John A. Hart, public affairs missionary for the Europe West Area.

"If we sound excited, it is because we are!" he said. "It is beyond description what Sea Trek 2001 will do for the Church in Europe and the British Isles. We are constantly amazed at the doors that are opened in the public sector: media (television, newspapers and radio), mayors, city officials, businessmen, church leaders and cultural arts organizations."

"We never dreamed of the eventual magnitude of Sea Trek 2001 and what it could mean to the city itself," Jackie Wilson of the Liverpool Tourism Bureau told Brother Hart.

"Everyone we have met has been not only polite and courteous, but excited and anxious to share in Sea Trek's commemoration of the journey of people of faith," he continued. "Those we ask to help or offer advice have been 100 percent receptive to the goals of Sea Trek 2001. The planned portside events will be unique to their cities."

A beautiful, landmark Anglican cathedral, situated on a hill overlooking the city and harbor, has been approved by its board of officers to allow the "Saints on the Seas" oratorio to be performed there in August 2001. In addition, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir will provide the music for the performances in all three English port cities.

Portsmouth, home of Britain's Royal Navy, gave the Sea Trek 2001 team a very warm welcome. The base dates back to 1490 and is full of history, tradition, historic ships and fabulous buildings dating back to 1776. HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, is still in commission with the Royal Navy and is the flagship of the commander-in-chief. However, Portsmouth is a modern naval base supporting aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates and minor war vessels.

Crowds flock to see the Statsraad Lehmkuhl in port.
Crowds flock to see the Statsraad Lehmkuhl in port. Photo: Photo courtesy Sea Trek Foundation

In Portsmouth, Sea Trek 2001 will participate in the International Festival of the Sea — a maritime celebration held Aug. 24-27, that its sponsors say, will bring together a great armada of warships, sailing ships, classic and traditional yachts and heritage vessels. The expected crowd of more than 300,000 will take part in a 12-hour daily program of entertainment for all the family: musicians, entertainers, military displays, air displays, competitions and food from around the world. The Georgian Street Market with actors in period costume will join the festival.

Short play about Mormons

The marketing director of the International Festival of the Seas is planning to write a short play about Mormons around the Charles Dickens story, "The Pick and Flower of England" experience. This vignette will be part of the dockside public activities during the Royal Navy's event.

The Sea Trek Foundation recently announced the American members of its board of advisers, which includes CNN talk show host Larry King and his wife Shawn Southwick-King, along with other prominent individuals with various backgrounds.

"Sea Trek commemorates a critical chapter of Mormon history, as well as the common emigration experience that many of our ancestors followed to America," said Mr. King. "With Sea Trek 2001, we are writing a new chapter for the history books. Shawn and I feel lucky to be a part of this momentous international event."

The advisory board is led by Michael K. Deaver, vice chairman, international for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, and previously one of President Ronald Reagan's closest advisers in both Sacramento and Washington during his 30 years in politics and public relations.

Joining Deaver are:

  • Admiral Paul A. Yost Jr., president of the James Madison Foundation and former 18th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

    "To stand on the deck of a tall ship under full sail is a thrill that comes once in a lifetime," remarked Admiral Yost. "Sea Trek 2001 offers everyone the opportunity to discover the importance of wind, sail and sea in this historic migration."

  • Jane Clayson, co-anchor on CBS' The Early Show.
  • U.S. Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore.
  • James Webb, former Secretary of the United States Navy, 1987-88.
  • David W. Checketts, president and chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden.
  • Rick Burns, executive director of the Danish Immigrant Museum.
  • Stephen J. Solarz, president of Solarz Associates and former U.S. Representative from New York, 1975-1993.

"We are thrilled to have the support of such a distinguished group on board for Sea Trek 2001," said Brother Sadleir. "We have gathered a solid group of experts from the media, military, corporate, public service and maritime fields, and each member brings experience and a unique perspective to the event that will help make Sea Trek a true success."

Beginning in Esbjerg, Denmark, on August 7, 2001, the European portion of the 59-day voyage includes stops at ports in Copenhagen, Denmark; Gothenburg, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; and Hull, Liverpool and Portsmouth, England. The ships will then depart from Portsmouth on August 27 to cross the Atlantic via the southern route to the Canary Islands and Bahamas, arriving in New York City 39 days later for a celebration on October 4 at Madison Square Garden.

In each of the major ports of call, Sea Trek 2001 will host a variety of events including "Rock the Dock," a free celebration open to the public with maritime exhibits on Mormon migration, online ancestral research workstations, history forums, tall ship tours, as well as live entertainment throughout the day. In the evenings, "Saints on the Seas," the dramatic musical tribute composed specifically for this sesquicentennial commemoration, will be performed by philharmonic orchestras, choirs and performing artists from around the world. Each port celebration will conclude with a fireworks extravaganza choreographed to music.

The foundation formally unveiled Sea Trek 2001 in August by launching its Web site, which is being used to register voyage participants and educate interested parties. Passengers can participate for one day or the entire voyage.

Email: [email protected]

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