Maritime Tradition Meets Modern Technology: An Exemplary Cooperation in the 21st Century

in Updates, Partnering by

FleetMon is supporting the sailing ship SANTA BARBARA ANNA in an innovative project to enhance the onboard experience of participants in its sailing trips. The 44-meter-long three-masted topsail schooner was originally built in England and, in its colorful history, has been used for fishing around Iceland, tourist trips in Barbados, and social youth work. Today it is based in Rostock, Germany, where it is operated by a group of volunteers with various seafaring backgrounds to practice and promote maritime traditions and traditional seamanship.

In full glory: the traditional and sailing ship SANTA BARBARA ANNA.

The ship takes groups on day trips around Rostock and also longer trips within the Baltic Sea, where the onboard guests are invited and encouraged to participate in rope handling, setting of the sails, navigating, and also scaling the rigging (if you dare), all under professional guidance by the kind crew.

“Which ship do we see there? Where does it come from and how big is it?” are common questions asked by the guests on board while underway, especially around the busy port of Rostock, where a wide variety of cargo boats, passenger ships, and other sailing vessels are regularly encountered. This spawned the idea to create a display that can show such information based on AIS data.

Volunteers at work during a cruise on the SANTA BARBARA ANNA.

Expanding on the information the standard AIS Apps provided, the display planned for the SANTA BARBARA ANNA shows only some of the surrounding vessels. Still, it picks the most prominent ones, using an algorithm based on LOA and distance. A photo of the vessel is automatically shown when available, together with information on the ship name, type, last port, destination, length, and distance. FleetMon is supporting this effort with the provision of AIS data. The code was developed by one of the SANTA BARBARA ANNA volunteers, a retired geographer with a background in GIS and programming.

At this point, a sample application is up and running. But as IT managers like to say, “When the programmer thinks he is almost finished, the program itself is maybe half completed.”

At the same time, the preparations for the next sailing season are progressing as planned. Over winter, the volunteer crew has been busy maintaining the sails, tackles, and ropework in the ship’s workshop while servicing the engine and refurbishing the galley. Right now, the re-rigging of all the sailing equipment on board is starting to get underway, followed by the annual crew refresher training and a trial run. Then the ship will be ready to go out to sea again.

Text by Wieland Künzel, Santa Barbara Anna

Together with the Rostock Maritime Museum, we have already started a cooperation in which we equipped the vessel with an AIS antenna and a screen in the navigation room to make it possible to experience shipping traffic around the museum. Read more about this on our blog.

If you represent a public facility, museum, or institution and are interested in collaborating with FleetMon, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We personally respond to each request, and because every collaboration is unique, we take the time to work with you to determine the best approach for our partnership.