My keel attachment method in the interior of the boat.
My removable sailing keel. It is adjustable fore and aft; side to side, and in weight. Once finalised, it is coated with resin, and painted black.
A keel attachment block in the “Ann Louise”, seen from inside.
The keel attachment bolts in the “Judith Kate”.
The hulls of the “Judith Kate” and "Elizabeth Ann", with keel attached. The legs of the stand allow attachment of the keel at the side of the water.
The oversized rudder of the “Judith Kate” before painting.
Length is from bowsprit end to stern rail
Height is from keel to main truck
|Model Name||Source Plans||Scale||Length (mm)||Beam (mm)||Height (mm)||Std keel (g)||Light keel (g)|
|Ann Louise||Joseph Conrad||1/40||1140||190||740||4700||3900|
|Judith Kate||Herzogin Cecilie||1/87||1320||160||720||7000||4700|
|Lauren & Rachel||Potosi||1/116||1070||120||530||2000|
|Linda 2nd||Peter Rickmers||1/86||1390||160||720||6200|
|Poetic Licence||Carl Vinnen||1/68||1450||200||720||8200|
I made some trials earlier this year, using lighter keels, from my smaller square-riggers, on the larger ones. The objective was to see what they looked like, higher out of the water, and whether or not they were any "handier" on the water. The results were very encouraging, to the extent that I very rarely sail the "Judith Kate" or the "Catherine Louise" with their original, heavy keels.
In the case of the "Elizabeth Anne", she wasn't a cargo carrier, so I made her original waterline a little lower anyway, to make her higher out of the water, and more lively, and, with the "Anne B", she seems to need the heavy keel from the "Judith Kate" to perform to her best.
Before getting to the description of the sail controls, here are the ships in the water:
She sailed for Rickmers until 1911, when she was bought by the Laeisz, Flying P Line of Hamburg, and put into the nitrate trade with the west coast of South America. The outbreak of WW1 found her in Hamburg, where she remained until 1917, when Laeisz sold her to Nurminen of Helsinki, and she passed finally to Gustav Eriksson, of Mariehamn in the Aland Islands, in 1923. He had her in the Chilean nitrate trade until such charters were unobtainable for her, and then she moved into the grain fleet, bringing wheat from Australia in 1928. It speaks volumes for her strength and sea keeping qualities that she should have prospered in the trade to Chile from 1911 to 1928. She may not have been the fastest of sailing ships, but she surely was one of the strongest.
She sailed for Eriksson for the rest of her life, taking part in the annual “Grain Races” from Australia to Europe throughout the rest of the 1920s and 30s. In this trade the ships more often than not had to sail out to Australia in ballast, but “Penang” did manage the odd outward cargo. She suffered a partial dismasting in 1938, having to put in at Dunedin for a repair, which took two months, and embarked on a tragic last voyage from Port Victoria, in Spencer’s Gulf, in July 1940.
As she was approaching the end of the passage, she was torpedoed by U140, off the west coast of Ireland, in December 1940, with the loss of all hands. She was the last deep-water square-rigger to be lost to enemy action, and it is a pity that a sailing ship should have been sent into a war zone at such a time.
So, as you have seen, she was yet another “end of an era” ship, with a long and colourful history. Her rig was of ancient design, and very handy at sea, and both factors were influential in the decision to build a model, based on her. The “Anne B” is the result, and she has turned out to be an excellent sailer, with the ability to go about very easily in all wind strengths, which is vital for a good sailing model, and also the strength and keel weight to take very heavy conditions, which allows her use in the most exciting sailing conditions.
This is easy sailing, though still in a 25 mile per hour wind. She is scudding before it, with yards squared, sailing “downhill” across the pond. Soon she will run out of water, then she’ll have to turn into the wind, to beat back to where she came from.
Such vessels would have served ships from before the time of the opium trade to China, then the fast clippers which took up that notorious venture, and on into the last years of sail, when windjammers came to Calcutta for jute, to trade into the Twentieth Century with, among others, the city of Dundee. They were what was known as composite ships, with wooden planking on iron frames, and built so strongly that the last I have heard of “Fame” she was still doing duty as a lightship in 1949. Their rigging and sail plan hark back to times earlier even than 1895, with the very long jibboom, extending beyond the bowsprit, and single topgallant sails.
As pilot vessels they carried two ships’ boats, hanging outboard from davits at the quarters, which give them a very distinctive look, somewhat similar to a whaler. Altogether, they presented a pretty picture, and I felt that a model based on them would look good on the water, and would also sail, and handle, very well indeed. It was with that in mind that I set out to build the “Elizabeth Anne”, named after a niece of ours, based on Underhill drawings of “Fame”.
She was a very tall little ship, setting royals on both masts. As soon as there is much more wind than a good breeze, the royals would come in, both on the real ship, and on the model. The pilot boat hung over the starboard quarter gives the vessel a very distinctive look.
The helmsman at the stern, with the pilot boats hung outboard on their falls. On the real ship there would have been no raised platform for the wheel, but there is one on the model because it is the hatch that covers the rudderpost. She is beating on the starboard tack, and the spanker sheet can be seen astern of the handrails.
She became, arguably, the most successful Cape Horner ever built, making 28 pre WW1 voyages to the West Coast of South America, in the nitrate trade. She carried general cargo from Hamburg to the ports of Chile and Peru, and brought back nitrates to Europe. She averaged just over 67 days for the outward passage, and just over 75 for the return, deep loaded both ways, 10,000Ts of ship, and cargo, driven by the wind alone. (Note that these times are from an offing in the English Channel, a tug usually taking Laeisz ships from Hamburg to the Channel, when outward bound).
WW1 caught her in Valparaiso, where she remained until 1923. She had been awarded to France as war reparations, but France had no use for her, so she was sold to Chilean owners, who sailed her to Hamburg as the “Flora”, with guano, in 1925, in 110 days, not up to the standards of her old owners. The Chileans offered her for sale back to Laeisz, who were not interested, and she sailed from Wales for S. America later in 1925, with coal and patent fuel aboard. On the voyage home she was sighted, on fire, off the Argentine coast. She was beached in an attempt to save her, but her masts went by the board, and she drifted out to sea again, becoming a hazard to shipping. Eventually an Argentine cruiser sank her with gunfire.
Not long after this time, sailing ships began to be built with very square, unlovely hulls, into which as much cargo as possible was to be crammed, in order to eke out their last hurrah, right up to WW2. When "Peter Rickmers" was built, that day had yet to dawn, and on this ship, both owner and builder continued a long tradition of creating ships to sail, as well as to transport goods.
She was 389ft long, was able to carry 4500Ts of cargo, and was built as a four masted "full rigged ship", that is she set square sails on all four masts. Not only that, she was given that final accolade for a windjammer, a lofty rig. She was the only four masted full rigger ever to set skysails over double topgallants on all four masts; put more plainly, she had seven square sails per mast, not the much more usual six or less. As a result, she was as tall a sailing ship as was ever built. Rickmers painted their ships a pale green (and still do) at a time when most sailers were black, white or grey, or had painted ports, and they also gave her white masts and spars, instead of the usual yellow "mast colour" so she must have looked a picture.
She was put into the trade with the Far East, and, over the next nineteen years sailed successfully and quickly, visiting places as diverse as Sumatra, Rangoon, Singapore, Hiogo and Hong Kong in the East, and New York, Portland and Astoria in North America, as well as regular return visits to European ports. She carried cargoes as varied as rice, coal and case oil, (kerosene in two-foot square metal cans). Her final passage was to be from New Jersey to Rangoon, carrying case oil, but she went aground on Long Island, in 1909, was stranded, and then caught fire, becoming a total loss. The only pictures of this ship of which I'm aware are of her stranded, also an indistinct one of her in dock. If you look at the one of her on the beach at Long Island, you'll see the extreme height of her masts, and it has always led me to imagine how she looked under way; perhaps that's what made me start thinking of model building ...
Going about, from the starboard, to the port tack. The sails on the main, mizzen and jigger are drawing on the new tack, while those on the foremast are pushing the bows round, finishing the manoeuvre.
Almost to a man, every sailing ship seaman who has mentioned these vessels in print has thought them ugly, and I have to agree. Harold Underhill, famous for his plans and drawings of sailing ships, is the only one I’ve read who thought otherwise. He describes them thus, hulls “shapely, for the time in which they were built,” but even he added the comment, “yards on the middle (mast) undoubtedly completely spoiled the look of the ships aloft”. Nevertheless, they attracted some attention at the time of their building, and throughout their careers, and so too have they caught mine now.
The five ships were called Carl, Adolph, Werner, Christel and Susanne Vinnen. They were built between 1921 and 22, and were each 262 feet long, with a beam of 44 feet. They were each fitted with an MAN diesel engine, of 350 bhp, and had wireless, and echo sounding equipment, both revolutionary for their day. They were built primarily for the trade between Germany, and the ports of the River Plate, though both “Werner Vinnen” and “Carl Vinnen” made a passage each, carrying grain from Australia to Europe, in their time. “Adolph Vinnen” was lost, wrecked near the Lizard, in 1923, on her maiden voyage, and the rest traded between the wars. I have no information on the fates of the other ships, except “Carl Vinnen”, which spent WW2 in Gibraltar, where her MAN diesel was much admired, a peculiar distinction for a sailing ship!
“Carl Vinnen” was almost saved by Heinz Schliewen, after WW2, when he tried to convert her into a sail training ship, along with “Passat” and “Pamir”, but his bankruptcy ended the enterprise, and she was broken up. They were a blind alley, but you have to admire the effort, and commitment involved in their conception, and operation. Together, they were one of a kind!
By 1902, the British, in the full bloom of their industrial might, had all but abandoned the commercial sailing ship, in favour of powered vessels. Thus, it was left to the French and the Germans to bring the operation of wind ships to it’s mainstream peak. Prominent among the owners of such ships was the Ferdinand Laeisz line, of Hamburg, operators of the “Flying P” line of windjammers.
Their ships, often bought second hand from British owners who no longer wanted them, had increased in size, to culminate, in 1895, in the magnificent, German built, “Potosi”, a five masted barque, capable of carrying 6000Ts of cargo. As with all the ships of this line, she was built to carry general cargo from Germany to the west coast of South America, and to return from there with nitrates for use as fertiliser and, later, for the manufacture of explosives. The line had built up an excellent organisation for the quick turn round of their vessels, both in Hamburg, and in the ports of the west coast, and “Potosi” in particular made the round voyage between Europe and Chile, via Cape Horn, deep loaded both ways, with almost metronomic regularity.
Such “mainstream” sailing ship operation was still a matter of pride in Germany, to the extent that, when the company decided to go one better, and build an even bigger sailing ship, even the Kaiser is said to have taken an interest, both in the building of the new ship, and in it’s operation. So it was that in 1902 the new ship was launched. She was named “Preussen”, and was the only five masted full-rigged ship (square-rigged on all five masts) ever built.
Why she was built as a full rigger has occupied the minds of all who are interested in the last sailing ships. Having the aftermost mast square-rigged, as opposed to setting the fore and aft sails of a barque, brings with it a lot of extra complication, in that it makes handling the ship more difficult, and requires the aftermost mast to be stayed much more strongly. Nevertheless, build her as a full rigger they did, and she was immediately the most distinctive sailing ship at sea.
She was 408 feet long, and could carry 8000Ts of cargo, with a main mast that was 200 feet from keel to truck. She was a magnificent sailer, making thirteen round trips to the west coast, and one round the world voyage, in 1908/09, from Europe to New York/Yokohama/Chile, and back to Germany. Her carrying capacity proved to be too great for the economics of Laeisz’ loading operations, both in Hamburg, and in South America, so she seldom sailed fully laden and was, at times, a very difficult proposition when being handled in narrow waters, but, for all that, her passages were excellent, bettered only by “Potosi”, an altogether more tractable ship.
“Preussen” met her fate in 1910, when she was cut down by the English cross-channel ferry “Brighton”. Her bowsprit was damaged, causing part of her foremast to come down. In this state, she became unmanageable, and went ashore under the white cliffs of Dover, where she broke her back, and became a total loss. Her bones were still visible there into the 1970s, a testament to the strength of her construction. She remains a legend in the history of the commercial sailing ship.
It was thrilling to watch the mountains of water chase the ship, just falling short of pooping her, then suddenly dividing, and rushing alongside, gaining in height and bulk until momentum was exhausted. As the sea ran past her, down would go her stern into an abyss from which one thought she would never emerge. Up to the heavens raked her jib boom, and her fore-foot and keel showed clear, almost aft to the foremast. If ever any ship topped sixteen knots, the beautiful ‘Queen Margaret’ was doing it then. Despite the shriek of the gale, we could hear the thrash of her as she swept past”.
Thus the “Beautiful Queen Margaret”, as she was known at the time, seen from the deck of the four masted barque “Springburn”, which was near Cape Horn, outward bound from Europe to the west coast of South America, in the southern summer of 1897. “Queen Margaret” was homeward bound, making good use of the westerly winds, to romp around the Horn, on her way home, while “Springburn” was struggling along, beating into the gale. A memorable meeting!
“Queen Margaret” was launched in 1893, at Greenock, by McMillans, for owners, John Black and Co., of Glasgow. She was 275ft long, with a gross tonnage of 2144. Her cargo capacity was of the order of 3400T, and she was one of the last large square-riggers still built with an eye to sailing capability, as well as to cargo capacity.
In her twenty year career, she sailed all over the world, carrying case oil (kerosene in large cans), jute, saltpetre, grain and coal, all typical sailing ship cargoes of the period. She visited ports on both coasts of the Americas, North and South, China, Japan, India, Australia, Europe and the UK. On January 17th, 1913, she left Sydney, on what was to be her final passage. She arrived off the Lizard at daybreak on May 5th, and received her orders by signal from the shore (no radio aboard sailing ships then). These were the owners’ instructions as to port of discharge, and were only finalised as the ship approached an “orders” destination. She was ordered to discharge at Limerick and, as there was a head wind blowing for that direction, the captain sent a telegram, asking if he might engage a tug. He took the ship in, closer to the land, in order to read the expected reply signals, and she struck a submerged rock, about a quarter of a mile from the lighthouse. The weather was clear and fine, and the impact not severe, but it did prove fatal to the ship, although there was no loss of life. By May 8th all the masts had gone, and the ship was breaking up, a very sad end to a fine barque.
They were built of iron, by Barclay Curle & Co., in Glasgow, were 290ft long (stern rail to the top of the bow), and were among the last big sailing ships to be built with an eye to speed, as well as carrying capacity. To that end, they had good lines, rather than the “built by the mile, and cut off by the yard” style of many of the last, big windjammers. As befits the intention that they should be fast, they were given a large sail plan, including a skysail on the main mast (seven sails on this mast, as opposed to the more usual six). Their masts were made of steel tube, as were all the yards except the top four on each mast (five on the main), which were made of wood. They were owned throughout their lives by the firm of Donaldson Rose & Co., most unusually for the time, when lots of British sail tonnage was “sold foreign”. Eventually, in their turn, they had to yield the wool trade to steamers, and had to revert to the trades left to tramping sailing ships. Their fates were typical of such vessels, “Cromdale” ran aground in fog, at Bass Point, near the Lizard, in 1913, and broke up, but “Mount Stewart” continued in service until 1924, when the economics of a full rigger of her size made it impossible for her to turn a profit. She was broken up that year at Nantes.
Drawing of the servo and brace arrangemment
Schematic of servo and yard movement
The interior of the “Catherine Louise”. On the left is the sail arm servo, used to control the sheets of the fore and aft sails on the main and mizzen masts, and on the right is the same type of servo, this time with a centrally pivoted servo arm, which is used to control the yards on the foremast. The braces, which control the yards, are attached to the ships’ sides by the side of the main mast in the centre of the picture. They are then led forward, to the ends of the servo arms, and then aft, to lead up through the deck, next to the main mast, en route to their yards.
This is the interior of the “Ann Louise”, a full rigged ship, with square sails on all her three masts. The servo on the left controls the yards of the main and mizzen masts, and braces can be seen leading both forward and astern, to the main and mizzen masts respectively. The servo on the right controls the yards on the foremast, and braces can be seen leading astern from it to the main mast.
These servos are those for the fore and main yards of the brig “Elizabeth Anne”, that on the left for the foremast, and on the right for the main. As you see, the main mast braces run astern to their yards, as in a real brig.
Four of the five yards for the “Catherine Louise”, with their bent wire pivots glued in.
The tube, into which is fitted the pivot, on the fore side of its mast. The tube is clamped to it’s mast, using the brass strip illustrated.
The assembled yard pivot, in situ on it’s mast. This arrangement allows the yard to be positioned ahead of the mast, vital if the yard is to swing to within 30deg. of the centreline of the hull.
This is an easily removable sail, suitable for “shortening sail” quickly for windy days. There are hooks sewn into the bottom corners of the sail, which engage in “goalposts” on the yard below. Simply unhook them, and lift out the yard from it’s pivot. See a “goalpost” in silhouette, on top of the yard.
As the yards are braced, a single "sheet", connected clew to clew, simply moves with the sail, holding it against the wind, when from astern.
This is a port side view of the “Judith Kate”, showing the endless sheet running aft from the mainsail, through two ring screws in the deck in front of the mizzen mast. The purpose of the sheet is to hold back the sail, into the wind, no matter the angle to which the yards are braced.
The courses, the lowest square sails, are fitted with stiff wire, sewn into their sides and bottoms, to allow the sails to be set without yards beneath them, and to allow them to use the wind from ahead, without wrapping themselves around the mast.
See PDF of article published in Marine Modelling International in June 2012 (by kind permission).
See YouTube VIDEO