Estelle alongside in her home port Turku, Finland
|Port of registry:||Finland|
|Length:||42 m (138 ft)|
SV Estelle is a fair trade cargo Bermuda schooner, currently[when?] the biggest sail ship in Finnish register. She was built in Emden, Germany in 1922 as a 42-meter (137.8 feet), steel-hulled ship for trawl-fishing in the Baltic Sea. Estelle's hometown is Turku. She was long owned by Eestaas and operated by Uusi Tuuli. Now[when?] she belongs to a "Ship to Gaza" company Northern Breeze AB, registered in Turku, Finland.
Estelle was previously maintained by volunteers who had the desire to sail to Africa to export assistance supplies and bring back fair trade goods and operate according to the ideals of Fair Trade. She made her first trip to Africa in 2002, before which she also visited the Mediterranean Sea, Ireland and some harbors of Northern Europe. In addition, many of the ship's crew have been trained while sailing in the Baltic Sea.
After her trip to Angola, Estelle has mainly sailed in the Baltic Sea, participated in the Tall Ships Race of 2003, and collaborated with Greenpeace on research and campaign work. Estelle is also constantly training new crew members since it is open to practically any one.
Estelle's operations are primarily based on volunteers. Operations strive for environmental sustainability, solidarity and global equality. Since 2003, Prometheus camps have been organized on Estelle every summer as a non-religious alternative to confirmation camp. During the camp the boat tours around the archipelago near Turku.
Estelle joined Sail Training International's (STI) Class A Forum as a member during the spring of 2005. The forum is intended for training the crews of the world's largest sailboats, improving operations and other related development.
In 2012, Estelle was sold to Swedish interests for an attempt to break the Gaza blockade.
Estelle departed for the Gaza Strip to try to break Israel's maritime blockade in the summer of 2012. "We are sailing with peaceful intentions," a crew member said. Estelle is Swedish-owned, but Finnish-flagged ship. According to the Ship to Gaza organization, there are also eleven Swedes, two Finns, five Greeks, four Norwegians, three Israelis, three Spanish citizens, one Canadian and one Italian aboard.
On October 20, 2012 the Israeli military seized the vessel without incident and took it to the port of Ashdod. In August 2013 the state of Israel filed a petition to confiscate the vessel. In August 2016, the Israeli supreme court ruled that the state cannot confiscate the Estelle, and ordered to state to pay NIS 40,000 to the ship's owner to cover court costs.
Estelle is the latest in a series of vessels manned by activists who have tried to challenge Israel's blockade on Gaza, imposed after Hamas seized power in 2007.
- "Uudet yritykset" [New companies]. Taloussanomat (in Finnish).[not in citation given]
- "October 2012". Uusi Tuuli ry - S/V Estelle (in Finnish). 22 October 2012.
- Suominen, Osma (7 April 2009). "Prometheus camps". Prometheus-leirin tuki ry (in Finnish).[not in citation given]
- "Introduction". Sail Training International. Archived from the original on 2007-05-02.
- "Israel reiterates intent to stop Estelle's Gaza mission". Yle. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- "Estelle crew: no aim to provoke Israeli officials". Yle. 16 October 2012.
- "Israeli navy intercepts the Estelle". Yle. 20 October 2012.
- "Supreme Court rules against major state initiative to deter Gaza flotillas". The Jerusalem Post. 8 August 2016.
- Batty, David (20 October 2012). "Gaza-bound ship Estelle intercepted by Israeli forces". The Guardian.