Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where is Melik?

As many of you, I have a fascination for Victorian gunboats. I am ashamed to confess that I have yet to deploy one on my gaming table, but I have been anticipating that moment for, quite literally, years. A long time ago I bought a colonial gunboat steamer from the Old Glory Shipyard, which I have been in the process of building for too many moons now; on my shopping list, I also have the paper gunboats from The Virtual Armchair General, which in fact I'd rather build in balsa wood, when their time will come.

This morning, I found myself with a watering mouth by reading some recent posts by Bob Cordery on the Victorian and Edwardian Royal Navy. I took his opportunity to revisit the website of the Melik Society, an indefatigable group that promotes the preservation of the historic gunboat Melik which followed Kitchener to Khartoum in 1898.
I remeber first visiting this site some years back, and falling in love with the mission, and the passion of the organization. I also remember wondering: where is Melik, today?

Well, where is she? The website mentions that Melik now sits on a sand berth at the Blue Nile Sailing Club in Khartoum, and the information sent me on a virtual tour of the Blue Nile river banks in the Sudanese capital. After a thorough exploration of the area by satellite imagery thanks to Google Earth, and some additional verification based on the existing pictures of Melik, like this one found on Flickr, I think I have located the gunboat! The Blue Nile Sailing Club is, rather obviously, on the Blue Nile, on the left bank, immediately before the Al Mk Nemer Bridge downtown Khartoum. In this Google Earth snapshot, I circle the area in red, if you want and locate it yourself.
Zooming in further, and with some help from the additional sources, you can somewhat easily locate the Club, and the profile of Melik, mostly hidden by the surrounding vegetation, as clearly shown in the Flickr picture. Again, I took a snapshot and highlighted with another red circle here.
So, here she is! Our, and Kitchener's, old good friend Melik! I am very grateful for the preservation work of the Melik Society, and who knows, maybe one day, when the political situation will become less tense, there will be an opportunioty to travel to Khartoum and visit the boat in person. For the time being, we'll make it with our traveling dreams, our toy models, Google Earth, and, for those really inclined to paper modeling, with the beautiful model offered by the Paper Shipwright!

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