The History of Yachting

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The History of Yachting, 1600–1815  (1904) 
by Arthur Hamilton Clark

A Ship Yacht of the Dutch East India Company.





Published under authority and by direction of
The New York Yacht Club

G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London


Copyright, 1904



The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Dedicated to





AT first sight it seems singular that no history of the origin and early development of yachts and yachting has ever been written. A little reflection, however, will convince one of the amount of labor necessarily involved in such an undertaking. And had I been able to foresee the difficulties before me, it is doubtful whether this task would have been begun. But once undertaken, it became most interesting; and as the libraries, museums, and old print-shops of Holland, Great Britain, and the United States, little by little, yielded their treasures, forming links here and there—with many fathoms of space between—it became a matter of unbounded pleasure to discover these old links—rusty though they were—and forge them into a chain as complete as historical chains usually are.

The researches, of which this book is a portion of the harvest, were begun many years ago, before any indication of the present popular interest in yachting had been felt. My labors, I may add, have been two-fold: first, to collect all data relating to the subject; also, so far as possible, the contemporary portraits of the yachts to which the data refer. Material has frequently been found in unexpected places; while, on the other hand. fields rich in promise, have often proved barren and unproductive.

It would require too large an amount of space even to mention the names of all the persons to whom I feel indebted during the long period that this work has been in progress. I can only say here that I am extremely grateful for their valuable assistance and kind encouragement.

This book is largely a narrative of facts, which, I venture to believe, are not generally known to yachtsmen. At all events, no author, so far as I am aware, has ever recorded them. It has been my desire, then, to state each fact in a clear and closely related manner, and, so far as practicable, to give the original authorities from which these facts are derived, without notes or appendix. This I conceive to be the most acceptable form in which to present the book.

Whatever merit the result of my labors may possess will probably be found in the desire of the reader to know something more of the origin and development of a noble sport, and not so much perhaps in what I have succeeded in doing, as in what I have tried to do.

A. H. C.

Cutter Yacht Minerva,
New York Harbor, July 12th, 1904.


introduction v
list of illustrations xi
mediæval pleasure-craft and early dutch yachts 1

Pleasure-craft of antiquity—Purple sails of royalty—Galley of Tyre—Cleopatra—Galley race described by Virgil—Yachting began with the rise of the Dutch Republic—Victories of Hein, Von Tromp, and Ruyter—Yachts belonging to the Burgomasters of Amsterdam, and Maurice of Nassau, younger son of William the Silent—Review of yachts in honor of Queen Mary of France—State yachts—Admiralty yachts—Dutch East India Company's yachts—Yacht parades—Mock battles—Peter the Great—Evolution of the sloop—The Peruvian balsa—First embodiment of the centre-board—Distant voyages and exploits of armed Dutch yachts.

holland and new netherland 32

Henry Hudson and the yacht Half Moon—Hudson arrives at Sandy Hook and explores the North River—Voyage of Captain Adriaen Block, 1613—He loses the Tiger and builds the yacht Onrust, at Manhattan—Explores the Sound and discovers Block Island—Yachts of the Dutch West India Company—Yachts built and repaired in New Netherland—Lines of the Sparrow Hawk, wrecked on Cape Cod about 1620 and exhumed in 1863.

king charles ii. returns to england 44

Prince Henry's pleasure ship Disdain, 1604—Shipbuilding, an "art or mystery"—Famous ships of this period—Origin of the frigate—Naval wars—Embarkation of Charles II., 1660, in a yacht owned by the Prince of Orange—Thirteen yachts in the cortège—The King re-embarks and lands in England—The Restoration.

early english yachts 56

Pepys's Diary and Naval History—Evelyn's Diary—The yacht Mary—First use of the yacht in word English literature—The King's yacht Catherine—Use of lead for ballast—Holland duck for sails—The Duke of York's yacht Anne—The Dutch yacht Bezan—Progress in ship building—Calculating a ship's displacement—The King's interest in maritime affairs—Yacht race between the King and the Duke of York—The Besano, Jamie, Charles, and Experiment—The Royal Society and Sir William Petty's inventions—Catamarans— The "versatile keel"—Propelling power in a ship, and copying machines—Petty's epitaph.

charles the second 91

The Henrietta—Lead sheathing—Stowage of ballast—The Charlotte—Ruyter's victory at Chatham — The Fanfan—Panther—Folly—Monmouth—Merlin—The London docks—Plague and fire—Rebuilding of London—The yacht Lenox—The Solalis—The Kitchin and other royal yachts—Striking topsails to the colors—The yacht Industry's voyage to Maryland, the first English yacht to cross the Atlantic—The King's last yachting cruise—His dying words.

william and mary 116

Landing of King William at Torbay—The yacht Princess Mary Her remarkable longevity—The William and Mary—The Medina—Jacobite plots and yachts—Peter the Great, in Holland and England—The Little Grandsire—Generous action of Louis XIV.

great britain and the united states 131

New York in 1679—The earliest American schooner—American origin of the term—The first American lighthouse—New York in 1717—The yacht Fancy—New York in 1746—The American lumber trade restricted to sloops—Influence of this rule upon ship building—Captain Schank's sliding keel—American independence—First appearance of the American flag in the Orient—Stephen Girard—The Enterprise—American sloop—Voyage to China and back—Captain Shackford crosses the Atlantic alone—First American vessel to circumnavigate the globe—Discovery of the Columbia River—Voyage of the sloop Union round the world—North River sloops—The leeboard—First American yacht, the Jefferson—Evolution of the centre-board—Centre-board patent of 1811—Baltimore clippers—Privateers—Frigates—The Constitution—Exploits of the American Navy—Life on the ocean.

yachting under the four georges 161

The Bolton—Princess Augusta—First Sailing Match on the Thames—The cutter rig—The Swift and Nimble—The ketch and lugger rigs of France—Purchase of American schooners for the British Navy—The Chebucco boats—Thames rowing races—The Lord Mayor's aquatic procession to Westminster—The yacht Catherine—Cork Harbor Water Club—Its complete sailing orders.

the cumberland yacht fleet 189

Tilt Boats—The yachts Royal Charlotte, Dorset, and Plymouth—The Mandarin house boat—Lord Ferrer's yacht—First regatta (so-called) in England—The father of yacht racing, the Duke of Cumberland, 1775—First racing cup won by the Aurora—Foundation of the "Cumberland Fleet," 1775—Review of this fleet in 1778—The King's Fisher, Hawke, Cumberland, Caroline, and Eagle—Recovery of the Cumberland cup from a San Francisco pawnbroker's shop—The yacht Lively visits America and her owner entertains George Washington—Schank's sliding keels adopted by the British Admiralty.

the english east india company and british navy 206

The English East India Company—Its ships and discipline—Profits—Writer-ships—Tyepans—Exploits of the Indiamen—Capture of the Dutch Oriental fleet, 1795—St. Helena—Table Bay—Leisurely voyages, good fare, and pleasant episodes—Size and equipment of the East India ships—Development of the Royal Navy—British frigates—Guns and carronades—Nelson's flagship—Exploits of the British Navy.

earliest yacht club of great britain 219

The Vauxhall annual cup races—The Prince of Wales, Nancy, Cumberland, Mermaid, Vixen, and other winning yachts—Bristol Sailing Society cup race of 1796; won by the Antelope—State Lottery cup, 1807; won by the Mercury—The Bellissima—The last Vauxhall cup, 1810—Cumberland Subscription cups, 1812—The Mercury champion of the Thames—Cruising in the Lower Thames—The yacht Royal Sovereign—Effort to revive the Water Club of Cork—William Fife, Clyde yacht builder—The yacht Leopard built by Lynn Ratsey, of Cowes—Thomas White, of Cowes—Earl Warwick, king of Wight—First meeting of the Yacht Club, 1815—Cowes Castle—Its priceless archives—Conclusion.

Index 245

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.