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24.000 x 18.000 inches
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Schooner Stephen Taber
Painting - Watercolor
Schooner STEPHEN TABER
Watercolor By James R. Williamson
The Stephen Taber was christened and slipped into the waters of Hempstead Harbor in October 1871. She is the oldest ship documented in continuous service in the American merchant marine. A local reporter of the day noted, “the schooner Stephan Taber was launched from the yard of Mr. Bedel, Glenwood, on Thurs. of last week. She is a well built, natty schooner-she bears a good name and no doubt will prove a profitable investment for all concerned.” She has certainly done all that, maintaining her full-sail status in the process, and is still in profitable service. Names after a member of one of Long Island’s famous Taber family, she has her home port in Camden, Maine, and is regularly advertised with a number of other so-called “windjammers” in the travel section of the New York Times. Each Monday from June to September she sails on week-long cruises out of Camden with a crew of six and up to 23 passengers. When he rebuilt her in 1981, her owner, Captain Kenneth (“O.K.”) Barnes, and his wife Ellen anticipated at least another century of service for the sturdy wooden-hulled vessel. The schooner’s dimensions: length, 68 feet; beam, 22 feet; tonnage 47, gross.
S c h o o n e r
The basic two-masted schooner rig may be described as a purely fore and aft rig having a single headsail, gaff foresail (usually with a boom), and a gaff and boom mainsail wide in the foot and generally taller than the foresail. Other sails may be set: a jib or jibs; jib topsail; gaff topsails; a topmast staysail; and square fore topsails; without altering the type name of schooner. More masts may be added, three being common in Europe and between four and five in America, where six or seven masters were also built. Schooners were built for cargo carrying, fishing, pilot services, as minor warships, privateersmen, for surveying, smuggling and slave carrying.
The commonly quoted reference to the origin of the schooner is that it was devised at Glouster, Massachusetts, about 1713 by Andrew Robinson in a vessel at whose launch a spectator cried ‘Oh, how she schoons’ and of course Captain Robinson instantly replied ‘A schooner let her be!’ There is no word ‘schoon’ in English and as the account was written on oral evidence in 1790 it seems quite improbable. It may be true, but extremely doubtful, that Robinson built the first schooner-rigged craft in North America but she was certainly antedated by vast numbers of English and Dutch craft which were not then named schooners but had previously developed the rig, which was probably taken to America by colonists from those countries.
May 21st, 2012
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