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Last Days of Sail

The twentieth century, with its remarkable scientific progress, its desire for speed and its overpowering economic forces, is now seeing the inevitable disappearance of the large sailing vessel.


THE LAST BIG NORWEGIAN SAILING SHIP was the Pehr Ugland, a barque of 1,3’6 tons gross, built in 1891. She was 230 ft. 8 in. long, with a beam of 36 ft. 6 in. This photograph shows her at Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A., re-rigged after her masts had been carried away by a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1929 the Pehr Ugland was laid up, and later she was converted into a lighter.


ONE of the most striking, and to many people one of the saddest, features in the history of the sea since the war of 1914-18 has been the almost total disappearance of sail. In 1914 there were many who saw that its end was inevitable, for the cutting of the Panama Canal was bound to make an immense difference, just as the cutting of the Suez Canal had done in 1869. Nobody, however, foresaw the extraordinary rapidity of the disappearance of sail, accelerated as it was by the large number of sailing vessels sunk during the war and by the entirely changed shipping conditions that accompanied the slump which followed the biggest boom in history.

In 1914 the British Empire had 1,135 sailing vessels of more than 100 tons gross, the United States 1,386, France 523, Germany 269, Norway 516, Russia 512. Denmark 249 and Sweden 372. In addition almost every other maritime country in the world had its fair proportion.

Among the biggest sailing ship owners Bordes in France had forty-five big ships, Laeisz in Germany had fifteen. In Great Britain there were fourteen in George Milne’s Inver Line, ten under John Stewart’s flag, seven owned by Thomas Law and Son of Glasgow, six by James Hardie and Company, six by T. A. Shute, and smaller numbers by many other owners. Some of these vessels were of great historical interest. In addition, there were some sizeable sailing vessels on the coast.

The owners of sailing ship tonnage in the early days of the war, if they were lucky enough to be able to keep it out of the danger area, earned big freights; but the sailing ship was an easy victim for the German submarine and large numbers of them were sunk. On the other hand, many old-timers were resurrected after having been hulked for many years. When they had been refitted, at great cost, they fetched fantastic prices and still returned excellent dividends to their buyers.

So, in the tail end of the boom that immediately followed the Armistice, there was big money in sail and there was even talk of building new vessels. At that time the British flag was still worn by such well-known ships as the Archibald Russell, Killoran, Hougomont, Daylight, Drumelton, Elginshire, Falkirk, Kilmallie, Monkbarns and William Mitchell. Sir William Garthwaite had collected a fleet of six big vessels whose identity was only thinly disguised by their new names, Garthpool, Garthforce, Garthneill and the like. There were also many vessels of lesser importance whose existence would gladden the heart of the sailing ship lover of to-day. Under the American flag there were numerous well-known square-riggers but still more fore-and-aft schooners. They were of the older type built in the early days of the century or else units of the emergency war shipbuilding measures when rapidity of building and economy in men were the prime considerations. The Norwegian fleet was a big one, consisting largely of old British vessels which had been transferred to the Norwegian flag when surveys became due; but they had been worked hard to get all possible profit out of their neutral flag during the war, and by 1919 most of them were on their last legs. The last big Norwegian sailing ship at sea was the Pehr Ugland. She was laid up in 1929 and later converted into a lighter.

Sailing conditions in Sweden, Denmark and the other northern countries were similar. It was only under the Finnish flag, among the Aland Islands, that there were already signs of a complete reversal of what was happening in other countries. Captain Gustav Erikson had laid the foundation of his fleet of sailing ships which was to become the Mariehamn Grain Fleet.

Captain Erikson was born at Lemmland, a village near Mariehamn, in the Aland Islands, in 1872. He came from stock that had followed the sea for many generations. He himself started his sea career at the age of ten, and at nineteen years of age he was in command of the North Sea trader Adele. Most of his early days were spent in the North Sea timber trade, a hard life but one which produced first-class sailors. His ability soon brought him more important commands and he went deep sea, all the time in sail.

In 1913 he “swallowed the anchor” and set up as a shipowner, his first vessel being the composite barque Tjeremai, a vessel of 1,011 tons gross, built in 1883. Erikson had little money at his disposal but he possessed great ability, experience and pluck. He kept expenses down by personally buying her stores and fixing her freights, and he even cut the Tjeremai’s sails himself. His second ship came in 1914, the German iron four-masted barque Rene Rickmers of 2,066 tons. He sent her to sea as the Aland. She was wrecked in the same vear. She was insured in the Russian Government Bureau and Erikson never collected his insurance money, but his courage continued to be rewarded and as freights improved he put every penny he could obtain into sailing ships and gradually his fleet grew. As far as possible he kept his ships out of the danger zone and found big freights, but he lost two ships by submarine attack and got no insurance.

Farther south, the gigantic French fleet of sailing ships, extravagantly built and run under the forcing of the subsidy laws, was doomed by their repeal. As soon as freights began to drop the ships were laid up in their dozens, mostly in the Canal de la Martiniere, and sold off to the scrappers as opportunity offered. Captain Erikson shrewdly bought a good deal of their gear.

Two of the biggest German sailing-ship-owning firms at the outbreak of war were Laeisz’s “Flying P” Line, whose biggest ship was the Peking of 3,100 tons, and the Vinnen Company, whose crack vessel was the Potosi, of over 4,000 tons. Many of their vessels were in neutral ports when war broke out, and were interned. Some of them were wilfully damaged by their crews to prevent their falling into the hands of the Allies, but all of them suffered sadly through having been laid up for such a long period.


THE LAST BRITISH BARQUENTINE surviving in 1936 was the Waterwitch. Built in 1871 at Poole, Dorset, she has a gross tonnage of 207, a length of 112 feet and a beam of 25 ft. 9 in. She is used in the coasting trade, and many Trinity House pilots have qualified for their sail training in her.

When all German merchant ships of 1,600 tons gross and over, and half of those between 1,000 and 1,600 tons, had to be surrendered in reparation for the submarine campaign, the Allies were principally interested in the steamers which could carry their cargoes with the minimum of delay. It was some time before the sailing ships, fine vessels as most of them were, could be made ready to be handed over. By that time the slump had set in and few buyers could be found to run these ships.

Some of them went to the scrappers, some back to Germany, and Captain Erikson got some good bargains. When most buyers were frightened away by the thought that the Panama Canal had ruined the nitrate trade to the west coast of South America, he saw opportunities for sailing ships and he was more willing to work hard for small returns than most modern shipowners.

Sailing ships were ousted by the excessive production of steam and motor tonnage at the end of the war, much more than was needed for the ordinary volume of commerce without the post-war slump which reduced all cargo movements. This was an exact repetition of what had happened after the Crimean War of 1854-56. Before that struggle the steamer, although well established, was still something of a novelty, and by far the greater part of the commerce of the world was carried under sail. A shipping boom was caused just as it was in 1914-18, and a large number of steamers were built to satisfy it. In the inevitable post-war slump these steamers got the cream of the trade that was offered, and this was the first great blow that the sailing ship sustained.

In the 1920 slump the dice were still further loaded against the sailing ship by changed conditions. Cargo liners, running on regular berth at a high speed, were capturing the business of the tramp, and for a long time past the tramping trade had been the only hope of sail. Consignees would no longer submit to having their goods held up for long periods at sea. They wanted to get them and turn over their money as quickly as they could.

The nitrate trade from the west coast of South America before 1914 had been the main stand-by of the sailing ship, but was hard hit by the German invention of synthetic nitrates and was obviously undermined. The Germans interested in the trade built one or two sailing ships for it after the war to replace surrendered vessels, but it was a risky policy and ultimately the trade collapsed altogether, although an attempt was made to revive it in 1935.

Other difficulties were concerned with manning and gear. It is surprisingly difficult to get a good sailing ship crew together nowadays, except for training purposes. On one of the last voyages of the Garthpool, the last big square-rigger sailing from the British Isles, a party of old sailing ship men tried to insist that they should not be sent aloft; they had been shipped to teach the youngsters. The average sailor knew and fully appreciated the greater comforts offered by a steamer’s forecastle, and would not sign on in a sailing ship if he could avoid it. On the other hand, the youngsters who shipped to get sail experience proved their worth on many occasions, notably when the Hougomont was dismasted. There was never any lack of young hands willing to work a passage or to sign on for one voyage.

As the number of sailing ships has decreased, so it is no longer worth the while of ship repairers to carry a heavy stock of spars, sails and all the other gear required for repairs. Thus when one of the survivors is in difficulties the cost of repairs is prohibitive, and it is generally necessary to bring the spares and gear from long distances.

Uncovered Risks

Underwriters are nervous of writing sailing ship risks with this heavy cost of particular average. So few of them have any experience of that side of the business that they are virtually bound to lose money. Most of the surviving sailing ships, therefore, ply uninsured, or at the most insured inside limited waters when the pilot is on board. When more than a certain amount of damage is sustained aloft it means that the ship is allowed to go altogether.

The owners of sailing tonnage, who were business men, have seldom had any alternative to laying up or scrapping their ships when freights were low or when there was heavy damage to be repaired. It was the same all over the world, and all countries were affected. In some there might be particular trades which justified the expenditure of a good deal of money on repairs, in others there were owners sufficiently enthusiastic to keep their ships at sea at a heavy loss. It was a gesture for which ship lovers are grateful, but it was not business.

A great effort was made to revive sail by means of auxiliaries (see the chapter “Auxiliary Sailing Vessels”). The scheme has cropped up periodically for three-quarters of a century, but seldom with success. Such magnificent shipowning firms as Gibbs Bright and Company and James Baines ruined themselves over auxiliaries in the middle of the nineteenth century. Enthusiasts who advocated their revival ignored this precedent, or maintained that it did not apply with the compact diesel engines of to-day, which occupy less space than the steam engines and boilers that served previously. During the war of 1914-18 the Italians passed a law compelling sailing ships to fit auxiliary engines, but that was as a precaution against enemy warships, and freights were so high that the economic factor was neglected.

The steel four-masted barque Elginshire

MANY FAMOUS SAILING SHIPS still flew the British flag after the war of 1914-18. Shown here is the steel four-masted barque Elginshire. A vessel of 2,229 tons gross, she was built at Dumbarton in 1889. She was 285 feet long and had a beam of 40 ft. 6 in.

In highly competitive trades the economic factor cannot be neglected, and the auxiliary is at a big disadvantage. The sailing ship’s great asset is her economy, for she gets free power from the wind; but every feature has to be as efficient as possible if she is to

compete with the steamer. Dragging the propeller through the water, even when every precaution is taken to reduce the resistance, spoils the ship’s sailing qualities.

If the auxiliary is given too much power it reduces her economy in first cost, overhead and running expenses. If she is given too little power, “just enough to kick her over a calm”, as is generally quoted, the chances are that sooner or later her people will ask too much of the engine and that it will break down, necessitating a big outlay for repairs. In any circumstances, if the motor is to be run satisfactorily, there must be an engine-room crew, whose wages are wasted when the ship is under sail.

Despite these disadvantages, the circumstances were so unusual after the war that a large number of auxiliary engines were fitted into existing sailing vessels and a certain number of new auxiliaries built. Where the ship had already lived most of her life, the fitting of auxiliaries was often justified, but technically there was milch more interest in the newly-designed ships.

By far the most striking were the six auxiliaries built for the Vinnen Company under the German flag. The biggest was the Magdalene Vinnen, a four-masted barque of 3,476 tons with a powerful auxiliary diesel. She has an excellent reputation for good delivery and seldom fails to find a freight. The other five were peculiar vessels, five-masted schooners with square topsails on the fore and mizen only. Their auxiliary diesels were originally designed for German submarines. Of these five the Adolf Vinnen was wrecked on the Lizard (Cornwall) during her maiden voyage, and the Susanne Vinnen was sold to Italy and became the Italian training ship Patria.

Historic Last Voyage

The Christel Vinnen was converted into a full-powered cargo motor ship without sail, and the Carl Vinnen and Werner Vinnen were still busy in 1936, mainly on the South American trade.

The British owners found the idea of auxiliaries unattractive for sea-going ships, although it was largely adopted on the coast and in the fishing fleet. A few of the owners of the old school kept their ships going for some time largely from sentiment, but during the slump they lost money regularly year after year and it was obvious that this could not go on. Most of the well-known ships were broken up, some were lost and some transferred to Northern European flags where the running expenses were much lighter.

Of the famous fleet of John Stewart only the William Mitchell survived and she was a different ship from what she had been in her prime. There was no lack of apprentices, for, although sail training was no longer insisted upon by the Board of Trade, there were many youngsters who desired it. It was in finding forecastle hands and cargoes that she had the difficulty, and for some years she carried timber, wheat, guano or anything else that offered. On her last voyage she left Tocopilla, Chile, on August 30, 1927, and arrived at Ostend, Belgium, on November 25. She was then sold for breaking up and her owners were lucky to get as much as £2,100 for her. That was the last voyage ever made by a British full-rigged ship with a British crew.

The Fanny Crossfield is one of the last British sailing coastal craft

BUILT in 1880, the Fanny Crossfield is one of the last British sailing coastal craft. A wooden three-masted schooner of 119 tons gross, she has a length of 95 ft. 7 in., a beam of 22 ft. 1 in. and a depth of 9 ft. 9 in. She is registered at Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.

The Garthpool, a steel four-masted barque of 2,842 tons, built as the Juteopolis in 1891, was the last surviving British square-rigger on the home trade, although there were a few left in the more distant parts of the Empire. On October 23, 1929, she left Hull for Adelaide in ballast and became a total wreck on Boavista Island, off the west coast of Africa, although her crew was saved. Her loss meant that the type which had made Britain’s commercial position was represented by one or two obscure vessels of which the general public knew nothing. The last of these, the Diego, was wrecked in the Indian Ocean in 1935 and her passengers and crew nearly starved on a desert island.

All this time Gustav Erikson’s fleet was steadily growing. He was a thoroughly practical sailor with a good eye for a ship and a careful business man who could weigh up the chances of any vessel that took his fancy. He had also strength of will to check his natural enthusiasm for the tall ships that he loved so well. One by one, generally at a small price, he collected just the ships that he wanted and some famous names appeared in his fleet. It is typical of the man that when a ship which had borne a name with great credit had been renamed by subsequent owners she was always given back her original name at the first chance.

The sailing ships Lawhill, Herzogin Cecilie, Olivebank, Killoran and many other well-known ships came under his flag. In addition he acquired a big fleet of smaller vessels - schooners, barquentines, and the like - for the subsidiary trades of the Baltic countries, especially the small timber trade to England. His shrewdness in buying these ships aroused the admiration of other shipowners. He was still more shrewd, however, in acquiring the sails and other gear which cost so much nowadays and in having the necessary refits and maintenance work done under his expert eye in the little port of Mariehamn.

It is difficult to imagine any other man producing such remarkable results as Captain Erikson has done since 1918, but it has only been by unremitting hard work and constant personal attention to the tiniest detail. So few opportunities of sail training now exist that he has no difficulty in finding his crews of youngsters who are keen on taking their chance, and fine crews they are. The cost of insurance is prohibitive, and he has had to decide to take his chance of loss. Occasionally one of his big ships may come to grief, and the only thing to do is to write her off, and, if possible, salve her gear and adapt it for the other ships of the fleet.

All the time he and the other surviving sailing ship owners have to tackle the difficulty of finding business. The South Australian grain trade is the mainstay of the big sailing ship to-day, and there some of the sail training ships find their necessary cargo. The various small ports on the South Australian coast have the crops of a considerable area to export, but the quantities are not large and the ports are so awkward that they do not offer any inducement to the big steamers and motor ships to visit them, even where it is possible. So every year nearly all the remaining big sailing ships are chartered to lift this cargo.

In 1921 there were thirty-six ships in the Australian grain trade, including six under the British flag. This was the biggest post-war fleet in this trade, and can never be equalled again; seventeen or eighteen ships must now be the maximum. This number includes the Swedish training ships Abraham Rydberg and C. B. Pedersen, which, although taking part in the annual voyages, give first consideration to their cadets’ needs and are therefore unduly handicapped as far as speed is concerned. Of the seventeen ships which comprised the grain fleet in 1936 fourteen flew Erikson’s flag.

Even Erikson cannot be seeing much profit after his expenses are paid. The outward ballast passage has to be paid for, and it is generally reckoned unofficially that it costs a pound a ton without any allowance for depreciation.

Out and Home in Ballast

The rates in this business vary considerably; sometimes they are over thirty shillings, but more often between that figure and a pound. Sometimes they are less, and in 1930 the Penang, rather than accept thirteen shillings a ton, the best that was offered, came home in ballast as she had gone out, her year’s work being purely for the benefit of the hands that she was training. How long this business will last in the present trend of trade cannot be foretold, but nobody is ever likely to build another big sailing ship. The last days of sail, therefore, appear to be numbered by the lives of the present fleet.

The quebracho or logwood business was another trade which employed a number of sailing ships for many years, dating back to the middle of the sixteenth century at least. In 1918 Dufour Brothers, of Genoa, began to run a fine sailing ship fleet, one of the last left under the Italian flag, on this trade. After they had given up, the three Danish barques Germaine, Claudia and Suzanne, remaining under the Danish flag according to the will of their owner, carried large quantities of logwood to France. Until she was broken up in 1935 the Italian barque Letizia, their last sea-going square-rigger, was also employed on this trade. Nowadays it has ceased entirely as far as sailing ships are concerned except for an occasional cargo in the Vinnen auxiliaries and the training ship Patria.

The Baltic timber trade formerly employed a large number of square-riggers, but this has almost disappeared, especially since the Russians built a big fleet of modern motor-ships for the transport of their own produce. For the carriage of short lengths of timber, popularly called the firewood trade, a certain number of sailing vessels still contrive to find a living at cut rates of freight.

The steel four-masted barque Hougomont

UNDER FULL SAIL. The steel four-masted barque Hougomont was built at Greenock in 1897. She had a gross tonnage of 2,428, a length of 292 ft. 5 in. and a beam of 43 ft. 3 in. She was dismasted in a storm off the south-west coast of Australia and. although she reached her destination under a jury-rig, she was abandoned as a constructive total loss.

The majority run to the River Thames, where they are always known as the “onkers”. This name has puzzled students for many years, although it was apparently founded on nothing more than the windmill pumps that these ships used to carry. Their monotonous sound, “onk-ur-r-r — onk-ur-r-r” could be heard for miles on the river. Some old sailing vessels are to be seen on this service, their last step before they go to the scrappers. It also employs several post-war schooners and auxiliaries whose appearance cannot compare with that of the old-timers.

The various trades that formerly existed for the American sailing ships — up and down the coast, from the eastern seaboard to the Atlantic Islands and from the western seaboard to Hawaii — have also disappeared rapidly, although they employed a large number of vessels, mostly the multi-masted schooners, until recently. Another American fleet which has been replaced by steam is that of the Alaska Packers Company, which bought thirty-two square-rigged ships between its formation in 1893 and 1922.

These ships included some well-known vessels that were nearly all renamed with the prefix Star. They were based in San Francisco Bay, and every season they would go up into Alaskan waters for the salmon fishery, taking with them large numbers of workers who caught and packed the fish. The last of the fleet was disposed of at the end of 1934. One became the training ship Abraham Rydberg, a few went to trade under other flags, and some became floating cabarets, museums or film settings. Some were converted into barges to tow up and down the coast, a fate that has befallen many well-known American ships, but the majority went to the scrappers in due course.

The New England States still contribute a number of schooners, nowadays mostly with auxiliary engines, to the Grand Banks fisheries and those nearer inshore. These schooners for some years past have been built on yacht lines and are engaged on the fisheries only. On the other side of the border similar vessels not only fish but many of them also carry their catch of cod, salted down, to the Catholic countries of Southern Europe. They return with cargoes of salt for the next year’s catch.

Grand Banks Fishery

Such cargoes are hard on tiny vessels — many of them under 100 tons — battling their way against the “Brave West Winds”. Every year, unfortunately, sees the number of this gallant fleet reduced by foundering.

The Grand Banks fishery is of great antiquity, dating back to the early sixteenth century. It attracts sailing vessels not only from the United States and British North America, but also from France and Portugal. In 1914 there were no fewer than 317 sailing vessels in the French Grand Banks and Newfoundland fleet. In 1930 the number was sixty-three, and in 1936 under thirty. There seems to be a hope that, with auxiliary engines, the French may revive the type, despite the fact that they have done an immense amount of work in recent years with the biggest steam and motor trawlers in the world.

The fleet still leaves the Breton ports every spring with its old-time blessing ceremony, and nowadays it mostly consists of schooners and barquentines of between 200 and 400 tons gross. The new auxiliary barquentines, Commandant Louis Richard and Lieutenant Rene Guidon, however, are considerably bigger. The greater part of the French catch is sent back across the Atlantic by steamer, but in the old days Danish schooners, hailing mainly from the port of Marstall, did a big business in that carrying trade.

There is considerable international competition in the Grand Banks fleets and, at intervals since 1922, the International Schooner Race between American and British North American schooners has attracted great attention. One of the champion schooners in this race, the Nova Scotian Bluenose, crossed the Atlantic for King George’s Silver Jubilee Review in 1935 and was greatly admired.

The Potosi was a five-masted barque of 4,026 tons gross

FATED TO BECOME A TOTAL LOSS, the Potosi was a five-masted barque of 4,026 tons gross. She was built at Geestemunde, Germany, in 1895. Her length was 366 ft. 4 in. and her beam 49 ft. 8 in. She was sold to Chilean owners and renamed Flora. Loaded with a cargo of coal she caught fire near Cape Horn and was destroyed as a danger to navigation in 1925.

Allied to the Grand Bankers, the sailing vessels of the Greenland fishery are also rapidly disappearing. Before 1914 there were numbers of them, mostly ketches and schooners of modest tonnage, going out to the fishing grounds every year. The modern trawler, with her economical engines and big radius of action, has ruined their business and only a few of them remain. Those that do, however, are fine little vessels with a particularly high standard of seamanship.

The local trades in various parts of the Indian Ocean still support a number of sailing vessels. Some of these are of local type, but one or two barques have survived until recently. The last under the British flag was the iron barque Diego, a 400-tons vessel built in 1868. She traded for several years between Diego Garcia, an island in the Chagos Archipelago of the Indian Ocean, and Mauritius, with intermediate calls. She was wrecked in the Chagos Archipelago in the summer of 1935.

Until the war of 1914-18 there were numerous sailing coasters in British waters (see the chapter “Romantic Sailing Coasters”). The brig had disappeared, but brigantines, barquentines and schooners still contrived to pick up a good living despite the improved economy of the steamer. From Portmadoc, North Wales, a number of small schooners still sailed regularly, not only round the coast but also on surprisingly long voyages. The German submarine campaign finished the majority of these vessels and those that remained found it difficult to make a living against the efficient modern motor coaster, especially as many of them had deep draught and were therefore debarred from a number of the smaller harbours that had been neglected during the war and never restored to their proper depth.

Among those still to be seen are the Brooklands, of 1859; the Emily Warbrick, of 1872; the Jane Banks, of 1878, the Irish Minstrel, of 1879; the Fanny Crossfield, and others. Perhaps the best known of all is the Waterwitch, the last surviving British barquentine. She satisfies the requirements of Trinity House for square-rig training, and is therefore officered principally by embryo pilots. She was built in 1871 and has a gross tonnage of 207. Many of the other survivors have been fitted with auxiliary engines.

Revival of Sail Training

All these surviving sailing vessels, large and small, are carefully studied by a considerable band of enthusiasts and a number of people desire to travel in them as passengers. In Erikson’s fleet there are several ships with excellent passenger accommodation, especially those which were originally built as training ships rather than for trading. They generally have a few passengers at a daily rate, as it is regarded as impossible to quote a fare for the voyage because of the uncertainty of its duration.

Since the British ocean-going sailing ship fleet has disappeared there have been many attempts to revive sail training, either voluntarily or compulsorily, but up to now the economic difficulties have always proved too great. Technical opinion, too, is not by any means unanimous as to the advantage under modern conditions. Some of the most enthusiastic advocates of sail training are the officers who have themselves served in steam only, whereas the sail-trained men include many who fail to see any advantage in sail training. Other countries, however, do not take the same view, and in Germany, for instance, sail experience is still necessary.

Apart from purely naval sail training ships, the Abraham Rydberg and C. B. Pedersen train future Swedish officers. The Sorlandet, a full-rigged ship of 577 tons, the 253-tons barque Tordenskjold and the 1,700-tons barque Statsraad Lehmkuhl, due in 1936 for replacement, fly the Norwegian flag.

The Danes have the magnificent auxiliary Danmark built in 1932 for the Government after the Kobenhavn, which was run by private enterprise, had disappeared at sea with all hands. They also have the Georg Stage, another auxiliary. Poland has the Dar Pomorza, and Finland the Suomen Joumen, which offer training for the Navy as well as for the Merchant Service. Russia still owns the steel four-masted barque, Tovarisch, although she has not been to sea for some time.

Of the German sail-training ships the only one making long overseas voyages is the Schulschiff Deutschland. The Belgians have the auxiliary barquentine Mercator, built in 1932. The Italians have the Patria. The Japanese have four magnificent auxiliary four-masted barques of between 2,250 and 2,500 tons, the Taisei Maru, Shinloku Maru, Nippon Maru and Kaiwo Maru. Further details will be found in the chapter “Training in Sail To-day”.

There are still a few old sailing vessels laid up in various odd corners of the world, but most of them have been idle for a long time with their gear rapidly deteriorating. It is not likely that they will ever be recommissioned to stave off the inevitable day when the beautiful sailing ship, for trading purposes, is a thing of the past and only a memory to those who suffered many hardships and discomforts but loved her just the same.


THE ALASKAN PACKERS FLEET in 1922 consisted of twenty-two sailing vessels and six steamships. The fleet was based in San Francisco Bay, and every season was engaged in the salmon fisheries in Alaskan waters. Many famous square-riggers were in the fleet. The oldest were the Star of India, 1,318 tons gross, formerly the Euterpe, and the Star of Peru, formerly the Himalaya, 1,027 tons gross, built in 1863.

Click here to see the photogravure supplement to this article.

You can read more on “Auxiliary Sailing Vessels”, “Romantic Sailing Coasters” and

“Training in Sail To-day” on this website.