Wyllie - Baltic Cruise, July 1908
Northern Scandinavia had always been an area that was very dear to the Wyllie family. So much so, that Marion, Bill’s wife, had published a book, called ‘Norway and its Fjords’ recalling her accounts from their trip in 1906. It was therefore decided that they would undertake another visit to the Baltic In July 1908.
Leaving from Tilbury, W L Wyllie and his wife started their cruise on 9th July 1908. The boat was moored just off the coast and all passengers had to be rowed on board in small batches.
Amongst the passengers happened to be no less than twenty friends and acquaintances of theirs, including members of Italian nobility – Prince Antonio Ruffo Della Scaletta and his five children, Antonio himself being an avid art collector and revered photographer.
Once one board, word got around about Marion’s book, resulting in several orders from other enthusiasts of Scandinavia with one of the passengers very keen to use its contents in his lectures on Norway, planned on his return to America.
When visiting Odde in Denmark the German Emperor was moored nearby and sent invitations around for anyone interested to visit his yacht. Whilst entertaining the passengers and the captain, the emperor took a look at the passenger list of the ship and asked the captain to send special regards to Bill, who was chuffed to be remembered by the German Royal.
At Recherché Bay, Spitsbergen they heard loud bangs as if a gun was fired, when large pieces of beautiful green ice drifted by, colliding against each other. One piece came very close and actually grazed the side of the ship make it sound like a tin can struck by a hammer.
After a number of shore visits and partying on board, the trip was nearing the end. During their time away, Bill had been busy sketching and painting and was urged by friends and fellow passengers to display his work. The captain allowed Bill to organise a small exhibition in the music room. There ensued a scramble to acquire some of these beautiful reminiscent pieces of art, representing a memorable trip. The Wyllies had to ask the purser to store the large sum of money from the proceeds of the successful sale in the safe. It was with great satisfaction when the couple arrived back home, rested and in good health .. and in pocket.