Books About Schooners
Our Private Collection
People often ask me about the history of Trinovante and if I based our schooner on a particular type of vessel. I could answer no, but then I could answer yes because every traditional sailing vessel is based on, or influenced by, a thousand ships that went before.
How do we know about these schooners of the past? In years gone by a line of practical development ran from generation to generation through the common experience of shipbuilders and seafarers. Now, much of our information and technical history about traditional sail comes from books.
I hope you enjoy the reading list. I would love to know of any great books about schooners not listed below. Please do drop me an email at SchoonerSail.
David R MacGregor
A highly informative work from one of the worlds leading authorities on merchant sail. Covering over 400 years (from 1600 to the present) of schooner development with many photographs and much technical information on schooners in North America and Europe.
Chapter Headings Include
Definitions, Two Masted Boats, Colonial America, Shallops and Chebacco Boats, Privateers and Baltimore Clippers, British Schooners Before 1840, Naval Schooners, Schooner Brigantines, Clipper Schooners, North American Schooners, Victorian Schooners, Yachts, Schooners in Europe, The Big Schooners, Schooners Around The World, Pilot Boats and Fishermen, School Ships, and Schooners Today.
This is an expanded and rewritten version of Schooners In Four Centuries – see below.
The American Fishing Schooners 1825 – 1935
This book chronicles the development of the classic American East Coast Grand Banks and inshore fishing schooners with lines drawings, sail plans and text.
More than half the book is devoted to details of rigging, deck gear, steering and windlasses etc.
I have spent many happy hours myself trawling through rigging details
A definitive book for the serious schooner nerd.
Blue Water Coaster
A first-hand account of life aboard one of the big coasting schooners of the Eastern seaboard of the United States. The 1930s and ’40s were the last days of these ships, and they were well past their sell-by date often requiring a lot of keeping afloat.
A good read.
Hard On The Wind
At the age of 15, the author signed up onboard a four-masted West Coast schooner for a cod fishing voyage to the Bering Sea. A well written account of a way of life nearing its end in 1937 and now a distant memory.
Published in 1983
The Quest Of The Schooner Argus
By Alan Villiers
In 1950 Alan Villiers renowned author of many books on sailing ships, sailed with the Portuguese fishing fleet to fish on the Grand Banks and Davis Straits. The fishermen left the Argus in open water in small dories to fish for cod with handheld longlines. It was a tough life in a cold place.
The appendix has some interesting economic details such as pay rates and a list of the fishermen’s allowances for each voyage such as 7lb of tobacco, cloth for making sails for the dories and 8 litres of oil for treating oilskins.
Skiffs And Schooners
By R D Culler
This is a really nice book by a master shipwright with many details of the nitty gritty of different wooden boatbuilding types.
Chapters Headings Include
Experience Starts When You Begin – Building the Spray – Wooden Boat Building – Materials – Tools – Flat bottoms – File Bottoms – Lapstrake – Carvel Planking – Engines, Oars and Sails, The Sprit Rig – Other Rigs Including The Ketch – The Schooner Rig – Water – Stoves – Anchors – Fuel – Centreboards And Cabins – Paints – Oils And Goo – Sailors Old And Young.
The Merchant Schooners By Basil Greenhill
By Basil Greenhill
The definitive work of the British Schooner, the construction, the trades, the crews, the finances and contemporary accounts of voyages drawings and photos. A readable book with lots of anecdotes, photos and some lines drawings
Chapters Headings Include
A Fragment Of Industrial History – The Rise And Fall Of The British Merchant Schooner – The Newfoundland Trade – The Shape Of The Schooners – The Building Of The Schooners, Life After Launching – Barmen And Bridgewater Men – Owners, Masters And Men – The Life on Deep Water – the Coal Trade – The Irish Sea – The Company Of Little Ships – The West Country Schooners – The Iron Topsail
By Basil Greenhill
My first schooner book ever, a wonderful collection of photos with commentary by the then director of the National Maritime Museum. Su’s favourite photo is of The Souvenir a little pole masted Tern Schooner (three master) 61ft long. One of Johns favourites is of the five-masted schooner Inca, deep laden, beating out of Puget Sound although he found it difficult to pick one photo from so many good photos.
By Nora Ayland (the captains daughter)
The memories of a man born into the life of a sailor in 1881. He was 50 years at sea, 42 as master, a life of extreme hardship and yet of immense satisfaction in his calling.
Published in 1972
By Captain Richard England
Against the will of his parents, Richard England signed on the schooner Via in 1925. During the war, he served in the royal marines and was seriously injured. After the war, he along with his wife and two daughters, bought the schooner Nellie Bywater and the story is both inspirational and tragic.
Atlantic Four Master – The Story Of The Schooner Herbert L Rawding
By Captain Francis E Bowker
The Herbert L Rawding was launched in 1919 and ended her days under sail at St Johns Newfoundland when engines were fitted. She sank a year later. Includes a lot of good photos including some of this schooner in rough weather. Bowker sailed on the Herbert L Rawding but not as captain. He includes lots of the daily detail of life on a large commercial schooner.
Published in 1986
Compiled By Edward W Smith (the photos were his fathers)
This is a little photographic treasure a close friend found in a charity shop. Split into two sections – Fishing Schooners and Cargo Schooners – the photos are excellent and unusual in that they were taken from a small boat and therefore quite close to the water.
In the back are chapters by Howard Chapell on the Gloucester fishing schooners, George Brown Goode detailing the mackerel fisheries, Charles Mogan on the New England Coasting Schooners and John T Rowland on the Big Coasting Schooners (these were the four, five and six masters)
Well worth having.
Published in 1975
Schooner Sunset – The Last British Sailing Coasters
By Douglas Bennet
Much technical detail on the rig and working gear of these mostly North West UK based vessels.
With unsentimental accounts of voyages and life onboard, some photos and many drawings showing how these schooners worked.
Sailing Coasters Of The North Atlantic
By Paul C Norris
The evolution of the three, four, five and six masted schooners with a chapter on the Thomas W Lawson the only seven-master. There are biographies of captains, builders and owners and the story of the decline of the schooner. Illustrated by some nice line drawings and some excellent photos
The Schooner Berth L Downs
A volume that documents this particular ship in great detail. It is stuffed with photos, constructional drawings, rigging details etc right down to the nuts and bolts. Very interesting for the serious nerd. If you want to build a wooden four masted schooner this book is a must.
Enough Reading About it? Why Not Sail On A Schooner
Voyages In Date Order