The History of Yachting/Chapter 8
YACHTING UNDER THE FOUR GEORGES
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.
IT is much to be regretted that Pepys and Evelyn left no successors in the art of recording every-day events of interest at the time of their occurrence, else we should know far more of yachting history in England during the eighteenth century than is now possible. In Charles II. we miss a kingly patron of yachting in Great Britain. And one does not appear again until more than a century has elapsed,—King William IV. At his own request, on July 4, 1833, he became the patron of "The Royal Yacht Squadron," and to it he gave its name. This name the renowned club still bears. However, despite the absence of royal favor, and though the records are scanty, there was, as we shall presently see, a good deal of yachting in Great Britain during the eighteenth century. For, once established, yachting is a sport so congenial to the English-speaking race, it is probable it will continue always. And while racing has become the prominent feature of yachting, to the true yachtsman it is but a part, and, perhaps not, the most important. Moreover, yachting is a sport by no means confined to one yacht gaining mastery over others in point of speed; but to that grander mastery upon the sea, over tides, head winds, fierce waves, and over oneself in calms and fogs. And though these triumphs may not be heralded by guns, steam whistles, and brass bands, or witnessed by throngs on board of excursion steamboats, they are still the essence of yachting, giving, as they do, keen enjoyment at the moment, and remembered in after years with pride and pleasure.In 1709 the royal yacht Bolton was built at Portsmouth: length, 53 feet 2 inches; breadth, 14 feet 6 inches; depth, 7 feet 6 inches; 42 tons; and in 1710 the royal yacht, Princess Augusta, was built at Deptford by J. Allen; length of gun deck, 73 feet 8 inches; keel, 57 feet 7 ½ inches; breadth, 22 feet 6 inches; depth, 9 feet 6 ½ inches; 155 tons, 8 guns; and she carried a crew of 40 men. This yacht was rebuilt in 1770 at Deptford and lengthened 7 feet. What her rig was up to that time is uncertain, but she appeared as a ship at that date. Her portrait is here given. King George III. attended the naval review at Spithead on board of her June 22, 1773; and on April 5, 1795, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, who had crossed from Cuxhaven to the Thames on board the frigate Jupiter, embarked on board the Princess Augusta at the Nore, and proceeded up the river to Greenwich. "Her Royal Highness, attended by Lord Malmesbury, Mrs. Harcourt, and Commodore Payne, went
The Princess Augusta. Built 1710. Rebuilt 1770.
The first open sailing match on the Thames, of which any record appears, was sailed during the summer of 1749, and was won by the Princess Augusta, a small yacht or pleasure boat owned by George Bellas, a Register in Doctors Commons. The course was from Greenwich to the Nore and return; the prize being a silver cup presented by the Prince of Wales, afterward King George III. It appears that this youthful patron of sport had already presented a cup which was rowed for from Whitehall to Putney, in celebration of his eleventh birthday, on June 4th, of the same year, when it was intimated that he might also present a prize to be sailed for by yachts or pleasure boats on the Thames. A short account of this sailing match was published at the time in the Gentleman's Magazine, which records that twelve vessels started though not mentioning their names, but relates that the Princess Augusta "in the going down to Woolwich was a mile before the rest, and at the Hope three miles, but in coming up by the shifting of the winds and the situation they were all in, two shot by her at Gravesend; notwithstanding which she came in first by ten minutes, which was the next day at forty minutes past two in the afternoon. The Prince of Wales with five or six attendants in his Chinese barge and the rowers in Chinese habits drove gently before for some time and a crowd of boats about him, the people frequently huzzaing, at which he pulled off his hat. It was almost a perfect calm and not the least damage happened, though the river seemed overspread with sailing yachts, galleys, and small boats"; also, that Mr. Bellas "on receiving the prize generously gave the value of it among the men that had worked the boat."Naturally, this race probably attracted unusual attention to yachting on the Thames, from the fact that the prize sailed for was given by Prince George, and it is pleasant to think of this lad of royal birth—too young himself to take part in rowing or sailing—yet finding pleasure in giving enjoyment to others. From the account of this race it would appear that there must have been a number of pleasure-boats or small yachts owned on the Thames at that period, and possibly other matches may
A Dutch Cutter and Schooner. 1750.
It is difficult to determine the exact date of the introduction of the cutter rig into England. And while various English writers have described it as the "national rig"—which was quite true in the nineteenth century—it did not originate in England. It was, indeed, a slow, gradual evolution of the Sloepe rig of Holland, by the addition of a gaff, boom, and topmast, but retaining the running bowsprit. When the bowsprit was fixed, or standing, the name "sloop" was still retained.
There is no evidence that the cutter rig was introduced into England prior to 1761. And it is clear that the royal yachts in England were not rigged as cutters at this period. Falconer's Marine Dictionary, published in 1771, defines a ketch as follows:
"A vessel equipped with two masts, viz., a mainmast and mizzenmast, and usually from 100 to 200 tons burden. Ketches are principally used as yachts, or as bomb-vessels, the former of which are employed to convey princes of the blood, ambassadors, or other great personages from one port to another and the latter are used to bombard citadels, or towns, or other fortresses." In 1745 the portrait of one of the royal yachts, painted by Monamy and engraved by Canot, was published by John Bowles, London. It is here reproduced, showing a ketch-rigged yacht of that period. Nowhere do we find royal yachts in England rigged as cutters during the eighteenth century, although the cutter rig was used on private yachts, smugglers, and in the Royal Navy.
There were also "customs" and "excise" cutters, known in the present century as revenue cutters, which, in the United States were all rigged as schooners until they became steamers. About the middle of the nineteenth century there was one celebrated revenue "cutter," rigged as a topsail schooner, called the Hamilton, commanded by Captain Josiah Sturgis, whose sister married Joshua Bates, of Baring Brothers, London. The cruising ground of the Hamilton was between Cape Ann and Cape Cod, and one of the pleasures of the few yachtsmen in Massachusetts Bay in those days (1845) was to be brought to by a gun from the Hamilton, and have Sturgis come alongside in his gig to examine their papers and sample the contents of their wine-lockers, for he was well-liked and welcome at all times.
The earliest portrait of a Dutch cutter—here reproduced—appears in an etching executed in 1750 by an unknown artist in Holland. A portrait of a Dutch schooner is also given in this picture, and is the earliest representation of a European schooner to be found. It will be noticed that she has pole masts and no spring stay, a practice that continued in England until the middle of the last century.The portrait of an English sloop, taken from an engraving published about the middle of the eighteenth century is here introduced. It shows the evolution of the rig from the early Dutch
An English Sloop. 1750.
Another portrait follows of an English packet-sloop, commanded by Captain Flynn, being brought to by the Dutch privateer brig, Good Expectation, October 28, 1783. At that period it appears that the rig of the British and American sloop was the same.
One of the earliest portraits of a British cutter is the Nimble, twelve guns, 168 tons, carrying a crew of sixty men. This vessel was purchased by the Government in 1781 and foundered during a heavy gale in the Kattegat, November 6, 1812.
The first cutter in the English Navy, as recorded by Charnock, was the Swift, captured from the French in 1761; length, gun-deck, 53 feet 10 inches; keel, 40 feet 4 ⅝ inches; breadth, 19 feet 7 ½ inches; depth, 8 feet 4 ½ inches; 83 tons; she mounted ten guns and carried a crew of thirty men. Apparently, at about this date, the cutter rig was first introduced into England, although it had been in existence for some time on the northern coast of the continent.
In 1781 a series of engravings was published by Kitchingman, which are here given. From them an idea may be formed of the model, construction, and rig of the English cutter of that period.
In 1806 the portraits of a sloop and cutter were drawn by Serres. Upon examining the reproduction herewith, one sees that the only difference in the rig is in the setting of the jib; the cutter's is set flying on a running bowsprit, and the sloop's on a stay with a standing bowsprit.
The first cutter owned in the British Navy, as has been mentioned, was the Swift, 1761; and, according to Charnock, the first schooner was the Chaleur, bought in 1764. The first lugger was the La Gloire, taken from the French in 1781.
LINES OF THE CUTTER "BUSY," 1788
Falconer (1771) gives this definition of a cutter:
"A small vessel commonly navigated in the channel of England; it is furnished with one mast, and rigged as a sloop, many of these vessels are used in illicit trade, and others are employed by the government to seize them; the latter are either under the direction of the Admiralty or Custom-house."
Falconer gives no definition of a lugger, as the rig had not at that time been introduced into England.By the year 1800 the cutter rig had become
An English Packet Sloop and Dutch Privateer, Good
The lines are here given of one of these cutters,—the Busy, built at Folkstone in 1778; also the lines of a sloop published in the European Magazine, 1790.
The British cutters and sloops of this period accompanied the naval fleets and made distant voyages; and while there is no record that any of them circumnavigated the globe, there can be no doubt that many of them were quite able to do so.
In the year 1800 there were 40 schooners owned in the Royal Navy. It is a significant fact that none was built by the government: 24 were bought, 2 were built in New York, 2 in Newfoundland 11 captured from the French, and 1 taken from the Spanish. There Is thus no evidence that any of these schooners were built in Great Britain.
Falconer gives the definition of a schooner: "A small vessel with two masts, whose mainsail and foresail are suspended from gaffs reaching from the mast towards the stern, and stretched out below by booms, whose foremast ends are hooked to an iron, which clasps the mast so as to turn therein as upon an axis, when the after ends are swung from one side of the vessel to the other."This definition of a schooner cannot be accepted as complete; no bowsprit being mentioned. But it describes the rig of the yachts of Holland during the early part of the seventeenth century; also the Chebucco boats, which took their name from the town on the coast of Massachusetts,—known now as Essex,—where in Colonial times they were first built. This rig was, no doubt, imported from Holland. It seems probable, also—even at the date when Falconer's Dictionary was published—that little was known in England concerning the fore-and-aft schooner rig. Moreover, excepting for yachts, this has never been a favorite rig in Great Britain. These facts tend to confirm the claim
The Nimble. 1781.
From time to time a good deal of controversy has occurred among yachting experts concerning the origin of the schooner, sloop, and cutter rigs. Hence, this matter has been the subject of careful research with the present writer. In conclusion, therefore, we may say, that so far as existing records are obtainable, the schooner rig originated in America, the sloop rig in Holland. From these were evolved the French and British cutter and the American sloop rigs; while the ketch and lugger rigs originated in France.
In 1715 Thomas Dogget, the celebrated comedian, instituted the "coat and badge" as a prize to be rowed for on the first of August, annually, on the Thames by six young watermen that had not exceeded the time of their apprenticeship by twelve months.
This prize, which came to be known as "Dogget's coat and badge," was a red coat with a large silver badge on the arm, bearing the white horse of Hanover. It was first given to commemorate the anniversary of the accession of King George I. to the throne of England. And although the first race took place in the year 1715, as mentioned, the names of the winners of this famous trophy have been preserved only since 1791. Naturally the introduction of steamboats on the Thames caused the old race of watermen to become extinct; and, so, much of the interest and excitement of these sculling matches have passed away.
The Lord Mayor's procession by water to Westminster was made annually until 1856; in that year it was discontinued. The barge of the Lord Mayor was a superb galley, richly ornamented within and without, rowed by watermen, and accompanied by the barges owned by the various city companies and guilds. These processions were beautiful river-pageants; hence their discontinuance is much to be regretted.
An illustration is here given of the Lord Mayor's barge, accompanied by other barges, at Westminster, from a painting by David Roberts, R. A. It enables us to form some idea of the beauty of these old-time river craft.
In 1720 the royal yacht Catherine was built at Deptford: length on gun-deck, 79 feet; keel, 62 feet 3 inches; breadth, 22 feet 4 inches; depth, 11 feet 2 inches; 166 tons. This yacht is chiefly notable as being one of the first English royal yachts of which a portrait has been discovered,—to appear in due time, together with the ancient Fubbs,—as they were among the fleet of yachts that escorted Queen Charlotte from Cuxhaven to England, in the year 1761.It seems quite natural and appropriate that the jovial, sport-loving noblemen and gentlemen of Ireland should have been the first to organize yachting in the United Kingdom. It is therefore not surprising to find that in the year 1720 the Cork Harbor Water Club was firmly established and flourishing under the auspices of Lord Inchiquin, the Honorable James O'Bryen,
An English Revenue Cutter Chasing a Smuggler.
The headquarters of the club was the Castle, on the picturesque Island of Hawlbowline, in the beautiful harbor of Cork. From this stronghold these ancient yachtsmen used to embark on board their yachts and sail "a few leagues out to sea," led and commanded by their Admiral, who was assisted by a Vice-Admiral. The following were the " Sailing Orders for the Water Club Fleet, A. D., 1720: The fleet to rendezvous at Spithead on club-days, by the first quarter ebb; any boat not being in sight by the time the Admiral is abreast of the castle in Spike Island to forfeit a British half-crown for gunpowder for the fleet.
"When the Admiral hoists his fore-sail half up, it is for the fleet to heave apeak upon their anchor, and when the fore-sail is hoisted up and a gun fired, the whole fleet is to weigh.
"To observe no one offer to go ahead, or to windward of the Admiral, without being ordered. The Vice-Admiral to bring up the rear, and to wear the broad pendant at his masthead; the captains to follow the Admiral, and to take place according to their seniority, viz., the eldest captain present to keep on the starboard quarter of the Admiral, the second to the larboard quarter, and so on quite through the fleet; if any stranger or strangers join company, it is expected he or they shall receive orders from the Admiral.
"Observe, that if the Admiral wants to speak with any of the fleet he will make the following signals: If with the Vice-Admiral he will hoist a white flag at the end of the gaff or derrick, and fire two guns; if with any private captain, he will hoist a pendant at his derrick and fire as many guns as the captain is distanced from him, and from the same side. When he will have all the fleet to make sail, he will strike his ensign, and hoist a red flag on the ensign staff and fire a gun from each quarter. When the red flag is struck and a gun fired then every captain is to come into his proper station.
"He will strike his ensign and fire a gun, when he goes about, and for wearing two guns.
"When he will have the fleet to come to anchor, he will show double Dutch colors at the end of his gaff, and fire a gun.
"When any of the fleet happens to be in distress, the captain of the boat is to hoist his ensign with a cross downwards, and fire a gun if he can.
"If a captain upon an extraordinary occasion, should want to go out of the line and away, he is to show his ensign in his shrouds, and fire a gun; the Admiral, if he gives him leave, will show a white flag in his shrouds, and fire a gun; if not a red flag.
"If a captain has anybody very sick on board him, and wants to go to the island, he is to make a weft in his ensign to lower his pendant half down, and fire a gun; if he gets the Admiral's leave, he will be shown a white flag in the shrouds; if not, a red one and a gun fired."When the Admiral will have the whole of the fleet to chase, he will hoist Dutch colors under his
An English Cutter. 1785.
The Building of the Cutter. 1785.
flag, and fire a gun from each quarter; if a single boat he will hoist a pendant, and fire as many guns from the side as a boat is distanced from him. When he would have the chase given over, he will hawl in his flag and fire a gun.
"Every boat is to carry the same sail as the Admiral, if she can, and may carry more, so as to enable her to keep company, but by no means to go ahead.
"The Admiral will, when he comes to an anchor, be the outermost, and the Vice-Admiral in the centre of the fleet.
"Every officer to obey such further order as the Admiral for the day, from time to time, shall give him."
It will be observed that these sailing orders are very similar to those issued at Amsterdam in the year 1697, when Peter the Great visited Holland. They may therefore possibly have been taken from them; also, that they contain no suggestion of racing.
The following are the " Rules and Orders for the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork, A. D., 1765:"
"1. Ordered, That the Water Club be held once every Spring-tide, from the first Spring-tide in April, to the last in September, inclusive.
"2. That no Admiral do bring more than two dishes of meat for the entertainment of the Club.
"3. Resolved, That no Admiral presume to bring more than two dozen of wine to his treat; for it has always been deemed a breach of the ancient rules and constitutions of the Club, except when my lords the judges are invited.
"4. No captain to bring any stranger to the Club, unless they should lie at the captain's house the night before; this order not to extend to the Admiral, who has a right to invite whom he pleases.
"5. Ordered, That the Secretary do prepare an Union Flag, with the Royal Irish Harp and Crown on a green field in the centre.
"6. Ordered, That the Water Club flag be hoisted on Club-days early in the morning on the Castle of Hawlboline.
"7. Resolved, That six members make a full Club, and that all transactions and matters whatsoever as are agreed unto by such a number, or more, shall be binding to the members of the said Club.
"8. Ordered, That the Secretary have the rules of this club affixed to some proper place in the Club room at Hawlboline Island.
"9. Ordered, That no long tail wigs, large sleeves, or ruffles be worn by any member of the Club.
"10. Ordered, That no boat presume to sail ahead of the Admiral, or depart the fleet without his orders, but may carry what sail he pleases to keep company."11. Ordered, That when any of the fleet join the Admiral, if they have not guns to salute, they are to give three cheers, which are to be returned by the Admiral, and one cheer to be returned by the captain so saluting.
An English Cutter. 1806.
An English Sloop. 1806.
"12. Resolved, That the Admiral of the day, to be better distinguished, do wear at his mast-head a proper small flag.
"13. Resolved, That twenty-five be the whole number of the members that this Club may consist of.
"14. Resolved, That such members of the Club, or others, as shall talk of sailing after dinner be fined a bumper.
"15. Resolved, That the members of this Club do entertain in course of seniority (if in the Kingdom) or appoint another member to take his turn, upon proper notice given him by the Secretary, upon pain of expulsion. (See Rule 27).
"16. Resolved, That all business of the Club be done before dinner, except appointing the time of the next meeting, or presenting, mulcting, and levying fines.
"17. Resolved, That every member to be admitted into the Club shall pay (pro rata) as much as has been paid by any member, towards building and upholding the Club-room, and for any other necessaries.
"18. Resolved, That the captains of this Club, who have boats, and shall not attend properly for the future, by sending their boats (unless they can show very good cause), shall for every such offence, forfeit one English crown towards buying gun-powder for the use of the fleet, which the Secretary is hereby ordered to levy, and lay out for the said use.
"19. Resolved, That the knight of the island be accountable for all goods and materials belonging to the Club-room.
"20. Ordered, That the knight of the island for the time being, do suffer no person or persons whatsoever to go into the Club-room, unless brought by a member, or by an order of five members at least, under their hands, on pain of being cashiered.
"21. Ordered, That the Admiral singly, or any three captains whom he shall appoint, do decide all controversies or disputes that may arise at the Club; and any captain that shall refuse to abide by such decision, is to be expelled.
"N.B.—This order to extend to the chaplain, or any other inferior officer.
"22. Ordered, That the fleet meet at Spithead, between the hours of nine and eleven in the morning, but the Admiral may appoint any hour, not later than eleven, as also the place of rendezvous upon extraordinary occasions.
"23. Ordered, That the Secretary write notice to the captains not present at the last Club, but in the Kingdom, of the next meeting, either by post or messenger; the captain sent unto is to pay.
"24. Resolved, For the future, that no person whatsoever be admitted or elected a member, but by ballot.
"25. Resolved, That no person be suffered to land on the island on any Club-day, unless by leave from the Admiral."26. (April 21, 1737). Ordered, That for the
Barge of the Lord Mayor and Guilds of London.
"27. Resolved, That each member (unless out of the Kingdom) entertains in his turn, or substitutes a member in his room, otherwise the Secretary is to provide a dinner, the cost of which is to be paid by the member whose turn it shall be to attend, on pain of expulsion."
In the year 1738 the famous marine artist Monamy painted two pictures, one representing "Two Gentlemen's Boats, Members of the Water Club of Cork, 1738," the other "The Fleet Manœuvering Under Orders of the Admiral." These paintings were presented to the Club by the Marquis of Thormond, and are still in existence. They are owned by the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Queenstown.
An interesting account of the Water Club of Cork was published in Bell's Life in London, January 30, 1853, which reads as follows:"The first authentic document we have in proof of the great antiquity of this club is now before us, in the shape of a copy of a small work published in the year 1765, and bearing the title of the 'Rules and Orders of the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork,' the original of which is in the possession of the club, and is, we are informed, the only copy of its date extant. This little volume consists of two parts, namely, 'General Orders' and 'Sailing Orders,' of the former of which there are twenty-seven numerically arranged. From the quaint phraseology and peculiarity of precedents, as well as from distinct allusion, it is quite evident that the Water Club existed prior to the year 1720, and it may be presumed that this work, published in 1765, was merely a reprint of older rules, revised and added to, as we find the last two rules, viz., Nos. 26 and 27, bearing the date April 21, 1737. It appears that the Island of Hawlboline, romantically situated in the beautiful harbour of Cork, was, in the year 1720, the exclusive property of the Water Club, and that the castle situated thereon was their club-house, whereupon the club flag was hoisted early in the morning of each club day, which club flag was 'a union flag (union jack), with the royal Irish harp and crown, on a green field in the centre, which flag was granted by the Lords of the Admiralty to William, Earl of Inchiquin:' The exact date of the grant is not known, but it is assumed to have been between the years 1720 and 1730; in a picture belonging to the club, bearing date 1738, it is depicted as above described. The meetings of the club were held 'once every springtide, from the first spring-tide in April to the last spring-tide in September, and the number of members who constituted the club were limited to twenty-five. Why the number was thus limited does not appear; but it may be inferred that its earliest progenitors were so aristocratic and exclusive in their notions, as thus to narrow the possibility of an objectionable personage being introduced amongst them, as a further proof of which we find that 'no
The Fleet of the Water Club of Cork. 1738.
"'I shall now acquaint your lordship with a ceremony they have at Cork. It is somewhat like that of the Doge of Venice's wedding at sea. A set of worthy gentlemen, who have formed themselves into a body, which they call the "Water Club," proceed a few leagues out to sea, once a year, in a number of little vessels which, for painting and gilding, exceed the King's yachts at Greenwich and Deptford. Their Admiral, who is elected annually, and hoists his flag on board his little vessel, leads the van, and receives the honour of the flag. The rest of the fleet fall in their proper stations, and keep their line in the same manner as the King's ships. This fleet is attended by a prodigious number of boats which, with their colours flying, drums beating, and trumpets sounding, forms one of the most agreeable and splendid sights your lordship can conceive.'
"There is an evident inaccuracy in a portion of the above statement, as the Water Club rules state (No. 1) that their meetings take place once every spring-tide, instead of once a year as the English tourists appear to have believed.
"The sailing orders for the Water Club fleet are equally interesting: they are twenty in number, and contain many curious regulations. Signal by gun-fire appears to have been the favorite method of numerical communications; for instance, if the Admiral wished to speak with any private captain, he would hoist a pendant at his derrick (gaff), and fire as many guns as the captain was distanced from him, and from the same side. Again, 'When the Admiral will have the whole fleet to chase, he will hoist Dutch colours under his flag, and fire a gun from each quarter; if a single boat, he will hoist a pendant, and fire as many guns from the side as a boat is distanced from him.' From this it may be inferred that much gunpowder was used upon the sailing days; and we find two rules, the infringement of which was punishable by fines, which fines were appropriated for the purchase of gunpowder for the fleet. No. 18 resolves, 'That the captains of this club, who have boats, and shall not attend properly for the future, by sending their boats (unless they can show very good cause), shall for every such offence, forfeit one English crown towards buying gunpowder for the use of the fleet, which the secretary is hereby ordered to levy, and lay out for the said use.' And in No. 1 of the Sailing Orders we have, 'The fleet shall rendezvous at Spithead on clubdays, by the first quarter ebb; and a boat not being in sight by the time the Admiral is abreast of the castle in Spike Island, to forfeit a British halfcrown for gunpowder for the fleet.' Verily we think these two rules might, with a less warlike appropriation of the fines, be applied to advantage to many of our modern clubs. We fear much that the admirals would be heavy sufferers in more instances than one. The sailing orders contain very many more stringent and admirable regulations under which, together with the general rules, the Water Club of Cork Harbor, and its gallant little fleet, appears to have flourished and progressed amazingly up to the year 1765; but from this year, we are at fault, for the transactions of the club' do not appear to have been at all recorded, or, if they were, the records have disappeared; at all events it is quite conclusive that the club had so far declined, or, in fact, ceased to exist for the time."
So the old Water Club of Cork, as we have known it, passed out of existence; the castle, fleet, admirals, captains, knight of the island, flags, guns, trumpets, and drums suddenly vanished and left no record of their ending; yet the spirit of these ancient yachtsmen survived in their descendants who have made the waters of Queenstown famous throughout the yachting world.