SAILING – Tall ships

After World War II, tall ships were a dying breed, having lost out to steam-powered ships several decades before. It was a retired solicitor from London, Bernard Morgan, who first dreamed up the idea of bringing young cadets and seamen under training together from around the world to participate in a friendly competition. The Portuguese Ambassador to the UK, Pedro Teotónio Pereira, was a big supporter of this original idea and believed that such a race would bring together the youth of the world’s seafaring peoples. These two figures started discussions in 1953 and three years later they saw their vision become a reality. The first Tall Ships’ race was held in 1956. It was a race of 20 of the world’s remaining large sailing ships. The race was from TorquayDevon to Lisbon, and was meant to be a last farewell to the era of the great sailing ships. Public interest was so intense, however, that race organizers founded the Sail Training International association to direct the planning of future events. Since then Tall Ships’ Races have occurred annually in various parts of the world, with millions of spectators. Today, the race attracts more than a hundred ships, among these some of the largest sailing ships in existence, like the Portuguese Sagres. The 50th Anniversary Tall Ships’ Races took place during July and August 2006 and was started by the patron, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who also started the first race in 1956.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The smaller boats begin the race first, but are quickly caught by the high fliers.

The Tall Ships races and regattas have become so popular that when the annual event is at a major port the committee is receiving over 100 applications to enter. Needless to say, I would not be able to post them all at the same time, so I propose to rotate these three photographs on a monthly basis.

The Amerigo Vespucci will remain as the lead photograph as this classic Italian Ship-of-the-line was a leader in re-establishing sail to the world. A ship of the line, by the way, is a warship designed and built for that one purpose.

It wouldn’t be polite to have any article on sailing without at least mentioning the J Class offshore racer. Whilst it is not a tall ship (not enough masts) it is certainly a classic and a boat I hold dear to my heart. It was really the precursor of the Americas Cup and design of preference until the committee decided to eliminate the sailing aspect in favour of speed. A sad, sad day.

Pure yacht racing, the helmsman needs to keep one eye on the flag!

J Class at ‘Hull speed’.
Fender bender. Been there, done that.

Prelude to a disaster.

“Avast ye Muppets, ye pulled the wrong rope again………….”

Oops, run out of water!
Ooops…too much water.

Conditions; Just right for a fine day’s sailing.

One of the biggest issues with tall ships is the instability caused by a high center of gravity, it is also one of my great interests to view the progress of naval architecture down the centuries of sailing development and boat design.

Clipper – steel hull, narrow beam and fast.

And, of course, the most famous of them all – Cutty Sark. Moored at Greenwich Wharfe for many years, then reconditioned in 1928 and put back into service as a sail training ship. She still holds the sailing record from China to London, pre-Suez.

Too much sail, not enough sailing and not easy with a broken back!

A bit of nostalgia from 1902

A 7-masted schooner built in the USA for the East Coast coal trade in 1902.

Fully laden and ready for the open sea.

Sevenmasted schooner ‘Thomas W. Lawson’.

This was the biggest “pure” sailing ship (i.e., without an auxiliary engine) ever built. She was lost on 1907-12-14 in British waters at Hellweather’s Reef, near the Isles of Scilly, killing sixteen of the eighteen persons on board (fifteen crew and the pilot) and causing the first known major oil spill.

This photograph was taken in 1906 or 1907. See en:Thomas W. Lawson (ship) and/or de:Thomas W. Lawson: The Lawson’s hull was painted in bright colours when launched, but later the hull was painted black. Her topmasts were taken off by 1903. She was not completely re-rigged before 1906.

As the Lawson did not leave America’s East coast before her last voyage, this photograph must have been made there (probably in Boston, North America). Furthermore, for her extraordinary draft when loaded, one might be able to further reduce the possibilities for the location of this scene.

At, another (and less cropped) print from the same negative is shown which has, according to the webpage, a hand-written note Thomas M. Lawson / Boston Harbor 1911 on its backside. As the city’s skyline is more distinct on that other print, it might be checked whether “Boston” is correct. The date 1911 and the name Thomas M. Lawson definitely are not.
Date between 1906 and 1907 – Courtesy of Wikipedia

When I was at Grammer school in the UK my thoughts on my future progression was to become a Naval Architect, ships and sailing being my main hobby. My aunt warned me that I would need to join the Navy and commit to a nine-year sentence. Consequently, my father had set me up to follow the family line (all expenses paid, plus a tidy sum for personal expenses). So, I went to Sandhurst Military Academy and became a Cadet Officer graduating as a junior cavalry officer. However, my love for sailing remained firmly entrenched in my mind. This will be the subject of a blog at a later date. The reason I raise this now is that my daughter-in-law sent me the photo you see above. My spidy senses made the hair on my neck bristle and I knew that the design was not only foolish but also totally impractical for the purpose. Designed to carry 11,000 tonnes of coal from Europe and drop off at East Coast ports in the USA just wouldn’t work for any more than the 3 major ports along that coastline. The manifest had to be dropped to 7,400 tonnes adding uneconomic to the list of flaws. The rig and sheer size of the boat would make it very difficult to handle in rolling, short seas and winds above 15 – 20 knots, which was proved when she grounded and sank off the Scilly Isles , even with a local Pilot aboard. With rescue attempts underway the loss of life was 15 souls and only two survivors. Cruel sea and/or inexperienced designers?

Pictures of more general sailing nature are available on luceo/facebook.

Beating on a good steady wind.

How we would prefer to see our lighthouses.

What we call ‘light airs’…….. and rough seas, thank God for our lighthouses.

“Oi, you’ve pinched my wind you great…, sloop.”

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