It sounded like an act straight out of a pirate movie – and the only thing missing was Captain Jack Sparrow.  The Golden Horizon, the world’s largest sailing ship and currently expected to be in Australia later this year for a circumnavigation, has been “arrested” in the British port of Dover at the request of another sail ship company.

Operated by Tradewind Voyages on behalf of its shipyard owners and represented in Australia by small-ship agency Cruise Traveller,  the vessel was pictured behind a fence against the dockside last night amid reports that Monaco-based Star Clippers was claiming it was owed up to $20 million.

She was due to sail her inaugural voyage on Monday and has bookings for sailings on July 24 and July 31.

Though reports were confused, it appears the problem is not one of Tradewind Voyages, but of the original shipbuilders, Brodosplit in Croatia.

Golden Horizon’s hull was originally built for Star Clippers – a three-ship sailing line which has had a presence in our region.  But she was not delivered and, according to reports, the owner received some $20 million in compensation after taking the yard to court.

It is this money which Star Clipper’s owner Mikael Kraft is seeking. And because the yard still owns the vessel, he took action against the Golden Horizon.

Star Clippers said in a statement: “Star Clippers advised Brodosplit Group to settle its debt, after which the ship will be released immediately.”

Another report suggested a payment of  $11 million would free the ship.

A statement from Star Clippers which appeared on the Shipmonk website in the UK said: “Earlier today, the English authorities have upon instruction of Star Clippers and with leave from the Admiralty Mashall arrested the vessel Golden Horizon in Dover.

‘Despite several payment demands Croatian shipyard Brodosplit refused to voluntarily discharge its outstanding financial obligations to Star Clippers, which made an arrest unavoidable. Star Clippers has advised Brodosplit Group that upon proper payment of the debt owed to Star Clippers the ship will be released from arrest immediately.’

The website added that a spokesperson for Tradewind Voyages had maintained there was no outstanding debt and that the ship would continue her voyages as planned.

The vessel is described in Cruise Traveller’s sales documentation as “graceful, spacious and traditional in style, the Golden Horizon is a modern, luxurious and eco-friendly sailing ship offering a relaxed but elegant ambience, fine cuisine restaurant, three pools, gym, library, spa sanctuary, four bars and a marina platform.

“All 140 cabins will offer ocean vistas.  The graceful square-rigger is expected to travel under the sole power of wind for an average 70 per cent of the time, thanks to 6300 square metres of billowing sails harnessed to the ship’s golden masts.”

Cruise Traveller is offering early bird tickets for the ship’s 2022 season. Fares for a nine-night package are available from A$4,395 per person, twin-share, which is saving of $460 per person if booked by August 31, 2021. In a multi-room balcony-adorned Owner’s Suite, fares are available from $12,815 pe person-twin-share, which is a saving of $1390 if booked by August 31, 2021.

Both Cruise Traveller and Tradewind have been contacted for comment.