Those yachtsmen who from time to time brag – or whinge – about having the “oldest boat in Penarth Marina” won’t be able to get away with those claims this weekend.
Today – berthed alongside the gleaming glass fibre and stainless steel of today’s yachts – is “The Matthew” – a faithful reproduction of the 15th century caravel in which the navigator John Cabot sailed from Bristol to North America.
She was built in 1994 but is an exact plank-for-plank replica of the original vessel which set sail bound for Asia with a crew of just 18 people 1497.
As it turned our Cabot’s navigation proved something wide of the mark and the ship actually made landfall in Newfoundland, Canada.
Claims that the original Matthew was the first to ship to sail to North America – although strongly supported by Bristol experts – are dismissed by Welsh historians who say Prince Madog actually made it there first, teaching the Mandan Indians to speak Welsh whilst he was on that continent – but it seems most likely the Vikings probably beat them both to it and might well have been the better navigators.
On the return trip, Cabot’s 15th century direction-finding let him down again and Matthew ended up not in Bristol but in Brittany.
However the replica Matthew did successfully make it from Bristol to Penarth last night. She’s here as part of the Coleridge ( he of the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) in Wales Festival and also for tomorrow’s annual Penarth Marina Open Day – when she’ll be open to the public from 14:00 to 15:30
There will be a Sunday morning service on board at 09:00