A.I.C.H. Emblem

This is a synthesis of the article written by the International Secretary General of the A.I.C.H.,
Captain Roger GHYS, as published in LE COURRIER DU CAP N°3 of December, 1999.
By Rear Admiral Roberto BENAVENTE, President, Chilean Section AICH.

In response to a request expressed by the Chilean Section, Captain R. GHYS contacted Mr. Jean ALLAIRE, Captain Louis ALLAIRE´s son, founder and the first Grand Mât of the Cape Horn Captain's International Brotherhood.

In a letter dated 24th of September, 1999, J.ALLAIRE informed us that - by request of his father - he created a lot of designs for the AMICALE emblem, of which the main symbol would be an albatross bitting a triangular hook.

According to J. ALLAIRE there were three versions of the emblem:

1° A.C.L.C. – C.H. 2°A.C.H. 3° A.I.C.H. – ST. MALO (Final)

Jean Allaire, who was only 14 years of age in 1937, states that the emblems of Brotherhood evolved with time and with the participation of all the Captain members of the organisation.

The piece used to trap the albatross consisted in a triangular or rhomboidal piece of copper on which two thick wooden halves were solidly fixed, so that the device would float.

This piece of copper had small holes to tie the bait, normally a salt pork, and it ended in an angle acute enough to be able to catch the albatross. The device was connected to the ship by means of a line joined to the wooden plates by a swivel.

For centuries, to catch an albatross was the sailor ’s favourite sport. After bringing it to deck, the beautiful bird was freed, because as the legend said these albatross incarnated the souls of the dead sailors at sea; the reason why it was always considered a sign of bad luck to kill one of these birds. The subject was immortalised by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798 in his poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", published in his book LYRICAL BALLADS. In this classic of the English literature, the author recalls his sorrow because Simon HATLEY, Chief Officer on board the SUCCESS, killed an albatross by shooting it after navigating the Le Maire Strait.

The first emblem of the Cap Horniers was made of felt by Mr. Benic, a hat manufacturer from Saint Malo. It was navy blue and circular shaped and had two concentric gold coloured circles; in the centre was a white albatross on a light blue background bitting a hook. The letters were gold coloured.

In accordance with the rules of the A.I.C.H., ALBATROSS is the title that is given to captains that have circumnavigated Cape Horn commanding a square-rigged tall sailing ship. According to the same rules, the title can be given to a Grand Mât who served the AMICALE honourably for several years. Such is the case of the Captain Heiner SUMFLETH, Grand Mât, who received the title of "Albatross of Honor" in the Congress carried out the year 2000.

The albatross is a huge-sized marine bird that is found almost exclusively in the southern seas. Its wingspread can reach 3.50 metres and its weight can reach 9 kilos. They are able to fly long distances, and it has been reported that they can travel around the world, taking advantage of the west winds, landing just for reproduction. The female lays only one egg which is incubated by both parents. After six weeks a young albatross with brown feathers is born, but as the bird gets older its brown colour becomes white, the same as the adults feathers.

The albatross is a quite fierce bird that feeds itself from all kind of material in the sea. It can absorb enormous quantities of sea water because it possesses a salt purification system near the eyes. This gland rejects about 90% of the salt from sea water.

Usually the albatross follows ships for weeks, like a loyal friend, feeding itself on wastes disposed from ships. It is fascinating to observe for hours these birds that fly against the wind while they glide, slightly touching the crests of the waves.

The choice of the albatross made by the founders of the A.I.C.H. as the emblem of our brotherhood was wise, and it reflects the respect that they, and we, have for the albatross, king of the oceans.

Valparaíso, February, 2000