Large Ships

Mr. Donald McKay's ship, the Great Republic, recently launched at Boston, although the largest sailing vessel now in existence, is not, as is generally supposed, of a magnitude superior to any craft that has heretofore been built. The Boston Journal says that the Baron Renfres [i.e. Baron of Renfrew], built on the banks of the St. Lawrence some eighteen or twenty years ago, was undoubtably a larger mass, but of unsymmetrical proportions - miserably fastened together - being in fact a huge mass of timber, taking somewhat the form of a ship, and constructed in such a way as to enable her to perform a single passage to England, when it was intended that she should be broken up. She measured upwards of five thousand tons. The Journal gives the following account of her fate:

"She sailed for London, and arrived safely in the Downs, but her draught of water was so great that the pilots were unwilling to take her into the river through the western channel, and in attempting to carry her round the Goodwin Sands, being unable to beat up against the strong north wind, she got ashore on the Flemish Banks, near Gravelines [sic], where she was soon broken up by a heavy sea. Nearly all her contents were saved. Rafts of great size were made of the lumber, and towed to France or up the river Thames. Some of these rafts contained from 15 to 20,000 cubic feet of lumber. On the top of one of them which was towed to London was the foremast of this mammoth ship. It was a single tree, ninety feet in length, and of surprising diameter. It was regarded with great admiration as a specimen of the white pine of North America."

The Detroit Daily Free Press, November 27, 1853.

Transcribed by Dave Swayze, Great Lakes Historian, Researcher and Author. Courtesy of Dave Swayze.

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Search.

Copyright © 1997 Dave Swayze.