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This book is subtitled ‘The last British sailing coasters’. I would recommend it to anyone interested in these vessels. Almost anything of interest is accompanied by detailed drawings, done by the author.


There are 15 chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. Shoes and ships and sealing wax
  3. Alert
  4. Brooklands
  5. Hulls and builders
  6. Anchors
  7. Deck fittings
  8. Variations in rig
  9. Masts, spars and standing rigging
  10. Sails and running rigging
  11. Engines
  12. Food
  13. Schooner models
  14. The vessels
  15. Conclusion

The first 2 chapters provide a brief introduction, briefly describing the ships and the sort of trade they were involved in at the end of the age of sail.


The next 2 chapters cover the times the author spent crewing 2 of these vessels. Interesting reading about life on these small craft, but more importantly for the model maker interesting details like what sails were set to leave and enter port. There is interesting detail like this throughout the book.


Chapters 5 – 10 are then filled with just about every detail of these vessels the model maker could wish for. All supported by numerous drawings. For instance the chapter on deck fittings covers: the galley, companions, sidelights, dolly winches, water tanks, skylights steering gear, wheel houses, cargo gaff, pumps, boat, motor winch and hatches. With drawings of every detail and variations. I could write a lot more, but to put it simply these chapters contain all the details required to make a model at any normal scale. Possibly more details may be required for a model at 1/24 scale (hull 4 feet long) or larger. To emphasise it, I repeat there are drawings that accompany everything.


Chapter 11 deals with the internal combustion engine. It does not deal with just the mechanics of an engine, but its effect on the trade supported by these vessels in terms of stockpiling and uncertain delivery dates and the way this affected the crew (more accurately the reduction in crew that this allowed). This brought about the end of the age of steam as well as being the final nail in the coffin for the pure sailing ship. It also details the effects an auxiliary engine had on the vessels themselves. To quote, ‘Topsail yards were sent down, flying jibs dispensed with, bowsprits cut short and topmasts, when not removed altogether cut down to short stumps…’. All things to bear in mind if making a model of a ship fitted with an auxiliary engine and much more.


Chapter 12 deals with the diet on these vessels. Probably not that important to the model maker, but interesting.


Chapter 13 is to me one of the most interesting in the book. It deals with how to take the lines of a vessel from a photograph. Obviously some photographs will be better than others. Ones taken when the vessel was light and the more photographs available the better. There is some deductive thinking involved which is all explained.


Chapter 14 proceeds to list over 300 vessels that are potential subjects for models. Most of which just contain the minimum of details, however some contain pages of information. There are lines, deck and sail plans for 28 of these. They are reproduced at small scale, not sure how well they could be scaled up on a photocopier, but if they turned out fuzzy it should be possible to trace over the lines.


Finally the conclusion gives some of the authors’ thoughts about where sailing ships will go from here. Time will tell.


Altogether a very enjoyable read and well worth the small effort of obtaining a copy. Having got the book I think I would have liked to have paid more for a better copy, not that there is anything wrong with the copy I obtained, no torn pages just a few rounded corners; it still contains its library card.


After reading this I feel I am well on the way to becoming an expert on schooners, though in reality I know that is not the case, just the effect of reading the book. I am sure a very reasonable model could be made from just the information contained within. The only problem being fitting it into the list. Would recommend to anyone interested in this type of small vessel.







Current Builds

Scottish Maid, V108 Torpedo boat


Future Builds

Snake (Caldercraft)


Previous builds

HMS Shark (Sergal), Sirene (Coral), Armed Pinnace (Panart), Etoile Schooner (Billings)

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