In December 2023, I was given the opportunity to step aboard the Trinity House vessel, Patricia, whilst the ship was docked in Harwich. The visit came about after I reached out to James Charles, who was the duty captain of THV Patricia.
I first crossed paths with James all the way back in 2012, when I visited the former cruise ship Discovery, to present a drawing on board, also in Harwich. Similar, my visit on board THV Patricia, would also include a presentation of my drawing of the ship, only now James was captain! It was hoped to visit the ship to present my drawing earlier in the year, but due to Storm Ciarán and other operational reasons it was delayed.
Nevertheless, we found a date that worked for us all, and I was joined on the visit by my partner, Nick. We drove to Harwich and checked-in at the Trinity House reception, where we were given the required personal protective equipment, as we would be entering a working area. So it was time to don reflective jackets, protective toe caps and hardhats!
We were met at reception by acting second officer, Alistair Bardon, who took us on board, as James was still in a meeting. Alistair took us onto the quay, where 1982-built THV Patricia was looking quite grand, sitting well in the water alongside as the tide was in. For a working ship, she's got some very attractive lines. She also shares her colour scheme with the former royal yacht, HMY Britannia. It was just a shame about the typical British weather!
We quickly headed on board, and were escorted straight to the navigational bridge. Here was got a great view of the working deck below, with various buoys on deck. Alistair kindly offered us a drink, whilst we waited for James to come back aboard following his meeting ashore.
After a short while, duty captain, James appeared, and welcomed Nick and I on board. James was very keen to see my drawing of the THV Patricia, which he had seen progress on Facebook, but had not yet seen in person. I took the opportunity to unveil my drawing on the bridge. Both James and acting second officer Alistair showed a great level of interest in my artwork. James had already promised to find a suitable location on board the ship to display the drawing.
In fact the ship's carpenter had already been tasked with crafting a bespoke frame, who we would later meet during our guided tour of the ship, working away below deck! James also expressed his interest in purchasing a limited-edition print of the drawing. I had actually already sold the first copy, to THV Patricia's other captain, Adam Keen, who had come across my drawing on LinkedIn.
After talking for sometime about my passion for ships and my artwork, James and Alistair invited my partner Nick and I on a guided tour of the ship.
We started one deck down from the bridge, where we were very pleasantly surprised, and thought we had walked into an elegant country house! This deck featured a range of somewhat dated, but very elegantly appointed cabins, and a huge lounge at the stern.
James explained that the first of these cabins was where Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal stays when on board. The Princess Royal was elected Master of The Corporation of Trinity House in May 2011, and has visited the ship a number of times since. Some ship buffs may remember P&O Cruises' Grand Event in July 2013, when the whole fleet met in Southampton. THV Patricia lead the convey of ships down the Solent, and The Princess Royal was on board. James explained how THV Patricia, would often sail in front of the former HMY Britannia in earlier years. We also got to see the bedrooms where the late Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh stayed when on board.
We also saw lots of artwork on board, all which is listed in the Royal Collection. I am very honoured therefore to know my drawing will be displayed on board!
Before continuing our guided tour below deck, we took the opportunity to have more photographs taken with my drawing, next to the ships crest. Here we were also introduced to second officer, Elizabeth Booth, who was pleased to join our photograph opportunity!
James also very kindly presented Nick and I each with a goodie bag from Trinity House, which he had kindly arranged for us. It had a nice selection of Trinity House gifts. Thanks again, James!
Below deck we saw many of the more dirty and working parts of the ship, and met some more of the ship's crew, who although dockside alongside in Harwich, were working hard. When not working, the crew have a range of spaces to relax in during their downtime, including a gym, and large lounge and bar, which even has a brand new PS5 and selection of games!
Following our in-depth tour of THV Patricia we disembarked the ship, having spent over two hour on board. Nick and I both had a truly wonderful time on board, and were very thankful to duty captain James for allowing us to come aboard and taking the time to meet with us and show off THV Patricia.
On the quayside we said goodbye, and second officer Alistair took us back to reception at Trinity House across the road from the ship.
Before heading home, as it was now getting dark, but had stopped raining, we had a quick look around Trinity House and had a in-depth explanation from the staff in the Planning Centre ashore.
I would like to extend my thanks to duty captain, James and second officer, Alistair for their time, as well as everyone at Trinity House who made our visit possible. It was a pleasure to come aboard, learn and see so much, and of course present my drawing, which I took to see once displayed on board! I am already in discussion about drawing the THV Alert and THV Galatea, and visiting them both to present the drawings on board, perhaps sometime in 2024.
In the meantime, if you would like to purchase a limited-edition print of my large-scale drawing of THV Patricia, please visit the Cruise Cotterill online shop, or use the links directly below. You can also find a range of other ships too, which is continuing to grow.
Alternatively, if you are interested in commissioning me to produce a drawing of any other ships, please get in touch, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. You can request a quote by clicking here!
Harry Cotterill set up his blog when he was just 16-years old, making him one of the youngest cruise bloggers in the world. In later years he became known across the world for his amazing talent of drawing cruise ships!