5th October 2008

Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner

A three-mast schooner with 40 people onboard had to be towed into St Peter Port by the Guernsey lifeboat on 5 October 2008. It was a Swedish vessel called Alva used to train student sailors, en route from England to Spain.

The boat had run into difficulties several hours earlier when it had got its rudder snared in netting. The crew tried to reach France but, with the weather getting worse, they started to drift towards rocks.

Initially, the Guernsey lifeboat wasn’t involved in the rescue at all. Instead, the Jersey boat set out to try and tow them to safety. When it had to return to base, without having attached a line to the Alva, the Guernsey lifeboat took over. It got a rope across to the schooner and towed it back to base. The rescue had taken about an hour.

The Alva

The 52m (170ft) Alva was built in Lodose, Sweden, in 1939. She had a library, conference rooms, sauna and a restaurant for 54 guests onboard.

When using her main engines rather than sails she can maintain a maximum continuous speed of 10 knots, but generally cruises at eight knots.

Other Alvas

Several ships called Alva have come to unfortunate ends. A tanker called the Alva Cape exploded in New York harbour and killed four on 28 June 1966. It was still burning on 3 July when the United States Navy scuttled it.

A schooner called the Alba Bradley sank on 13 October 1894, 24 years after its launch. She had started taking on water in a storm off North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan. It was one of several 61m (200ft) schooners built for sailing on the Great Lakes and is now used as a recreational diving site.


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