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Bat story

By Rosalyn Stevens (Kyiv)

“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” John Lennon’s words have spoken to many dreamers over the generations, giving hope to what might sometimes feel like hopeless goals, and encouraging persistence in seeking a better world.

You might say that same kind of dreamers energy is what’s running through the veins of the Biriukovych family. It’s that something that gives hope to their wildest imaginations, sees them through challenges and adversity, and brings them out the other side with a story to tell and a message to share. For the Biriukovych family, dreams do come true.

Today, 27 year old Vadim Biriukovych has turned to the Internet to crowd source funding for the family’s latest project, the construction of the Batkivschshyna II. After years of reconstruction work, the vessel is now all but ready for launch–as soon as an auxiliary propulsion system is installed. Landlubber speak: The ship needs an engine.

The grassroots project behind the current crowd sourcing campaign falls perfectly in line with the story of the Batkivschshyna. Originally a fishing vessel, Captain Dmytro Birioukovych first purchased the boat in 1988. After years of reconstruction and conversion into a sailing ship, the Batkivschshyna was launched in 1990. After a year of finishing touches, the real travel began following the Declaration of Independence in Ukraine. Tied in with a love of sailing was Captain Dmytro’s goal to introduce the world to his home, Ukraine. Indeed, the name of the ship, Batkivschshyna, is translated to mean Fatherland. And it was this Fatherland that he would bring to the world, port by port, ocean by ocean. It was this sharing of histories, experiences and adventures that carried the Batkivschshyna from one place to another, picking up new crew along the way, and touching the lives of all she met.

The adventures continued for more than a decade. The stories piled up, ranging from a trip across the Atlantic Ocean where Batkivschshyna was feared lost at sea and, upon her arrival on the American east coast, became the highlight of the Operation Sail (OpSail) 2000 festival, to participation in tall ships events in the Great Lakes, and venturing south to spread the word further. Finally, in 2004, Captain Dmytro said a reluctant goodbye to his beloved ship, and sold her in Australia.

It wasn’t long, though, before that call to the waters returned, and that’s where we are today. Having taken possession of an abandoned hull in the Kiev Yacht Club, Captain Dmytro has been working steadily to refit the ferrocement vessel into a second coming of his first Batkivschshyna. It hasn’t been easy, according to grandson Vadim, who joined his grandfather ion 2008. In one instance, the ship needed to be moved for easier access, but because entrance by heavy machinery wasn’t possible, Captain Dmytro took matters into his own hands — literally.

“It took him a year to move it to the position on the rails where it is right now,” Vadim explained. “He moved it with a hand winch. Everything was done by his hands and his friend Anatoliy. The whole way was probably 500 meters. Nobody believed he could move it or that it will ever sail. Everybody thought he was crazy!”

Since that move, the ship has been overhauled, with a new deck, hatches and structural improvements to the hull, a new rudder, keel and more. Rigging and sails are on hand, and the boat is almost ready to go. All that’s keeping her ashore is the lack of an engine and propulsion system. That’s where the crowd sourcing comes in. Everyone who contributes to this campaign is doing a part to help this dream come true, and in return for their contributions, various ‘perks’ are on offer. They range from being recognized as a founding member of the Batkivschshyna II crew, to stepping aboard, taking the helm and becoming an actual crew member during this summer’s voyages.

To sail a tall ship is to step back into another time, and to face challenges and opportunities one might not otherwise face. To be part of this project is, then, to have a hand in changing the lives and fortunes of anyone who should step aboard. And what an amazing feeling that is.

With help of generous donors, this ship will be launched in May 2013, and will take part in tall ship events the Mediterranean Regatta 2013, with stops in Spain, France and Italy. Continuing on their mission to spread goodwill around the world, the Batkivschshyna II is sure to be as welcoming as her predecessor, with unlimited adventures just beyond her bowsprit.

“I inherited my grandpa’s passion to sailing and looking to make a journey of a life time,” Vadim said.

Thank you for your interest in this project. Please help us spread the word, and get this adventure underway.

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