Tributes to sailor who took his ship to the Arctic

Jack LammimanJack Lammiman
Jack Lammiman
TRIBUTES HAVE flooded in for a seafarer whose intrepid life helped inspire a film starring Bob Hoskins and Sadie Frost.

Whitby man Jack Lammiman made an epic voyage to the Arctic on his Danish boat the Helga Maria in 1991, defying the authorities and landing himself in hot water.

Now he has died at 74 with his family and two dogs at his side.

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His death prompted warm tributes on Facebook and Twitter. “RIP Jack – a real gentleman,” said Linda Hill, while Steven Maher said: “A great man, loved Sea Cadets when he was in charge.”

@eastermoon said: “Very sad news today Whitby Legend Cpt Jack Lammiman passed away on Wednesday with his family and 2 dogs beside him. He was a true gent RIP.”

@WendyLow said: “RIP Captain Jack Lammiman. A great man and Whitby character.”

His antics were the inspiration for the film Captain Jack, which was partly filmed in Whitby in 1997 with Academy award-winning actor Hoskins playing him.

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The film attracted big names to the town including Maureen Lipman and Gemma Jones.

Hoskins, who has since died, said he had been “very impressed” by Mr Lammiman. Speaking during a break in filming, he described him as “an extraordinary fellow”.

Mr Lammiman’s exploits also took him to Greenland, Tenerife and the America.

He hit the headlines when he defied the authorities to sail a party of pensioners to the Arctic.

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He took his old Danish fishing boat the Helga Maria to the Norwegian Arctic island of Jan Mayen despite British officials banning him from leaving his home port because they said the vessel was not seaworthy.

The one-time postman said he was determined to press ahead with the voyage in homage to Whitby’s great 18th century whaling skipper William Scoresby, the inventor of the crow’s nest.

His crew of pensioners and a vicar braved stormy seas. They repainted the vessel to disguise it from pursuing Royal Navy spotter planes – and they even spoke of an encounter with a polar bear.

The motley crew returned to Whitby in triumph to be greeted by thousands of August Bank Holiday visitors.

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But officialdom prevailed and Captain Jack was prosecuted by the Department of Transport and convicted of breaching maritime safety regulations.

Lammiman was dismissive of the prosection. He said at the time: “They tried to stop me from going to sea because I didn’t have the right sized fire bucket.

“No vessel is a democracy and I am the skipper of this boat.”

Even though the adventure was made into a film, the real Captain Jack Lammiman shunned the limelight and slipped back into obscurity in Whitby.

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The Helga Maria was sold and Captain Jack, a charismatic figure, would often be seen by the harbourside walking his dogs and smoking his pipe.

A memorial service will be held at St Ninian’s Church, Baxtergate, Whitby, at noon on Sunday, April 19.

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