Is bringing a tall ship back to the Wear too much of a tall order?
Peter Maddison's determination to bring a gem of Sunderland's glorious shipbuilding past back to the Wear has led him to some drastic action.
He staged a one-man protest on board the City of Adelaide to highlight her plight.
This is no whim for him, it's been a burning desire for a decade or more. So much so he even named his daughter Adelaide.
So is his campaign a perfect example of someone putting their hometown pride into practice or is it a madcap obsession with an old relic?
Well that's for you to decide and I have no doubt you'll be adding your comments here.
One thing all the experts seem to agree on is that the City of Adelaide should be saved. She is a fantastic example of what's called a composite clipper vessel. In terms of the UK's maritime heritage she is in the top ten of surviving ships. Some would say she's much better than the Cutty Sark which has had millions lavished on her and has managed to survive that terrible fire in Greenwich.
So why not give the same love and care to the Adelaide, asks Peter Maddison. He is the leading light in a campaign group called SCARF that estimates it will cost £ ½ million to get the ship down to Sunderland and which is hoping to raise £2m in all.
One North East's slogan Passionate People, Passionate Places comes to mind as Peter seems to epitomise that in spades, but do the people of Sunderland share his vision?
Down the coast the HMS Trincomalee now graces the skyline of Hartlepool. Millions of pounds of public money went into the restoration of what is now a popular visitor attraction, but getting there was a costly and long drawn out affair.
The question is whether a similar act in civic pride in Sunderland is worth paying for. Peter says yes, but insists it's about more than that. He claims preservation work on the ship will help retain and develop shipbuilding and engineering skills and it would become a centrepiece of a revitalised riverfront.
I went to see the Adelaide as she lay folorn on a private bit of land at Irvine in Scotland. To my untrained eye she looked a bit of a wreck, but all that is superficial. Her hull and structure is pretty much intact and with some work it's claimed she could be taken to whoever wants to offer her a safe haven.
But that's the problem. The ship's possible destruction has been on the cards for years but nothing has been resolved and now a decision to cut her up is possibly only weeks away.
The Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine originally saved her only for the ship to become a millstone round the neck which threatens to bankrupt them. The reasons are complicated but are detailed on the museum's website.
One philanthropic businessman stumped up hundreds of thousands of pounds to stop her deterioration a few years back but pulled out of taking her on when the full cost of moving and restoring her was revealed.
No-one is now planning to return the ship to her full glory. The best outcome is that she is moved to somewhere she can stay long term and is preserved rather than restored. Peter Maddison is hopeful Sunderland will be her new home, but he's up against a strong claim on her by Australia.
Whereas the Cutty Sark was designed* to ship tea around the globe, the City of Adelaide's cargo was people. She took passengers to South Australia to start a new life. Around a quarter of a million Australians can trace their ancestry via this ship and that's why the ozzies have mounted their own campaign.
Recently there was even been a proposal to use her hull as a roof for a retail development - a much grander scale version of the Holy Island technique of re-using old coble hulls as sheds.
At least both Adelaide and Sunderland want to retain her as a ship and both would rather the other bid wins if it is the only way of stopping her from being scrapped.
The Cutty Sark may have a lesson to teach those who now hold the Adelaide's fate in their hands. One has to hope that having seen a Scottish built tall ship that caught fire in England being supported with millions of pounds of heritage funding, those North of the border will look just as kindly on an English ship now languishing in their waters and in need of financial help.
* I originally wrote the Cutty Sark shipped tea around the globe - as DaveC rightly pointed out in his comment, that was what she was built for, but in fact a major development in shipping technology and trade routes meant she turned to other cargo such as wool from Australia. You can find out more on the National Historic Ships website.
I am happy to put that detail right.