I just want to take a moment to boldly state that there is nothing more beautiful on the water than a schooner. I will brook no arguments. It is simply the truth. Fortune has smiled on me by allowing opportunities to take the helm of several worthy examples of the breed. It has always been a dream of mine to have a schooner of my own. These vessels are usually large and so out of reach of a family budget.
The practical range for this rig seems to start in the 40 foot range and increases rapidly. Several variations on the type such as the Tancook whaler and the pinky schooner originated as fishing vessels. These handsome double-enders are typically built to a smaller scale. perhaps because they weren’t meant to be bulk cargo carriers.
Many have argued that the type does not scale down well. The windage created by the extensive rigging on a schooner is said to be a negative factor compared to sloops, cutters and even other divided rigs. There are a lot of lines on a schooner and some would find that too complicated or labor intensive. Some of us just think of it as more fun than we probably deserve. Ketches are ubiquitous because of their supreme practicality. Yawls have their adherents and I will confess to having a special liking for L. Francis Herreshoff’s Rozinante. Still nothing is as downright seagoing, nautically noteworthy and all around salty as a gaff rigged schooner this side of a 44 gun frigate will all her stun’sls drawing.
Some designers have made the effort and produced seaworthy vessels of good reputation. Some notable examples are: Florence Oakland at 22′ 5″ by John Atkin, Little Maid of Kent 30′ by William and John Atkin, Susan by Murray Peterson at 28′ long on deck, and William Garden’s Toadstool at 29 feet. There are more and I hope to take a closer look at some of them in the future. Sometime in the next couple of days I will be posting a story about a very special schooner that has struck my fancy. She just happens to be for sale and worthy of consideration by anyone holding on to the dream with the means to make it come true. Return soon for the rest of the story.