Thursday, June 7, 2007
My grandfather's herring fishing boat probably looked like this when it was built. According to my island folk, the first schooner was built at Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1713 by Captain Andrew Robinson. When she was launched, a bystander is supposed to have cried out: "Oh how she scoons!" This Icelandic word identifies an object moving easily over water. Robinson agreed that she was indeed a"schooner" and the name stuck! In any event, a schooner is a fore and aft rigged vessel as opposed to one which is square rigged. Note that the earliest versions could not quite break from the square rigged tradition? A schooner is still usuallyu thought of as having two masts, but there have been exceptions! The mainmast was stepped near mid-ship. In other places, aside from America, square masts were carried on the main as well as the foremast. After 1840, schooners with more masts appeared on the scene and these were designated as three-masted; four-masted; five-masted and six-master schooners. The square rigging disappeared from these very large craft.