Friday, June 8, 2007

The Wheelhouse

The other dangerous feature of the schooner was the open helm at the stern of the ship. My grandfather Chester L. Guptill has related an incident where wave action forced his entire crew to tie themselves to the main mast where they remained awash and adrift for five days. The Grace Darling was an early convert to the wheel or pilot house. This superstructure obviously limits visibility but increases the comfort of the helmsmen at the expense of beauty. The first wheelhouses were not universally admired and the veteran skipper, Captain J.A. Ingersoll, thought that the one on the Grace Darling would soon be swept overboard. This did not prove the case, but some other vessels did lose the wheelhouse to waves.

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