Poetry in motion
When Annigje met Malcolm

History is always being written at Feadship and still being discovered. A local magazine in Aalsmeer was recently researching an article on the times in the mid-1960s when Malcolm Forbes was regularly seen riding on a scooter from Schiphol airport to the Feadship yard in the town just south of Amsterdam.

Feadship historian Huib de Vries explained how the famous American entrepreneur and publisher was a regular visitor during the build of this second of four Feadships called The Highlander. Huib also shared an artist’s impression of the project in question, a 35.41-metre Feadship that was launched on 11 March 1967.

One of the editors of the Aalsmeer magazine is Annigje Leighton-van Leeuwen and reading this information reminded her of a story of her own. Annigje’s mother had seen a photo of The Highlander under construction in a newspaper at the time: it was an exceptionally innovative yacht and the subject of much press coverage. Impressed, she wrote a poem in English and sent it to Malcolm Forbes.

Imagine her surprise when one of the richest men in the world wrote back with profuse thanks and inviting her to read the poem out at the launch ceremony. Annigje’s mother was unfortunately unwell on the big day itself so her 16-year-old daughter took her place at this auspicious event.

And so it came to pass that I too was riding along the Oosteinderweg road to the yard on my moped on that March day, dressed in my Sunday best with my hat in a plastic bag,” recalls Annigje. “I stood on the stage and read my mum’s poem to the gathered dignitaries, and then got to sip champagne for the first time!” We don’t have a photo of Annigje reading but we do still have the poem:

Your Ladyship, I wish you true
A lucky trip in night and dew

Where ever you may be or gone
Will never disappoint anyone

Makes sailing in the Honolulu Bay
As pleasant as the nicest day

Remember when you go from land to land
You are always in a ‘mighty hand’

Then stormy weather you can believe
Will give you not a single grief.

Malcolm Forbes (third from left) at the launch of The Highlander in March 1967.