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Shipping Wonders of the World

Part 17



Part 17 of Shipping Wonders of the World was published on Tuesday 2nd June 1936.


This issue included a colour plate illustrating Taking in the Crossjack from the painting by Claude Muncaster. This accompanied the article on Sea Shanties. The coloured plate was attached to page 525 of this issue.



The Cover


The cover of the current issue shows the Finnish sailing vessel Varma (or Warma) being repainted in Regent’s Canal Dock, Stephney, London, after one of her voyages from the Baltic with a cargo of timber.

The Finnish vessel "Varma"


Contents of Part 17


The Ship That Broke Her Back

The Great Lakes

Sea Shanties

Taking In the Crossjack (colour plate)

Coastal Motor-Boats

The Australian Coastal Cargo Ship

The Voyages of Captain Cook

Novelties in Ship Design

The Chelyuskin Rescue





The Ship That Broke Her Back


The story of the Araby, concluded from part 16. You can read more about this salvage in chapter XIII of David Masters’ book The Wonders of Salvage.

(pages 517-518)

The Great Lakes


Six lakes in North America form the world’s greatest inland fresh water area. Colossal engineering feats involving a system of deep water canals have made an outlet to the sea for shipping. The Great lakes of North America are among the world’s busiest waterways. With an area of over 95,000 square miles of fresh water, they comprise a natural waterway surrounded by some of the richest industrial and agricultural areas of the North American continent. On these lakes are ship types equal in size to the largest ocean-going freighter, and big paddle ships or “side-wheelers” which would dwarf the excursion vessels of Europe. This chapter is by A C Hardy and is the fifth article in the series on World Waterways.

(pages 519-522)


A DEEP-WATER LOCK at Sault Ste. Marie on Lake Superior. The Sault Ste. Marie Canal connects Lake Superior with lakes Huron and Michigan, and passes through one of the world’s greatest locks, 900 feet in length, 60 feet wide and 21 feet deep. The Canadian Pacific lake steamer Keewatin is here seen passing through the lock.

A SALVAGE TRIUMPH. To raise the halves of the Araby from the bottom of the harbour channel, into which they had sunk, large pontoons were used. Two of these were lashed to the bow, pumps were set to work, and gradually the bow was raised. Tide by tide it was slowly moved until it no longer obstructed the harbour traffic, but was beached in the inner harbour. Similar means were used in raising and moving the stern, which is seen in the photograph above. The greater weight of the stern made it more difficult to salve than the bow.  

(page 517)

Taking in the Crossjack

TAKING IN THE CROSSJACK in a four-masted barque. The lowest square sail on each mast is normally called the course - for example, fore-course or main-course on the foremast and mainmast respectively - the main course being derived from the Old French world cors, a body. The course was the original square sail of primitive rig and was the body to which all the other sails were additions. The sail on which the men in the picture are working, however, - the lowest square sail on the mizenmast - is an exception, and is always called the crossjack (pronounced cro-jack). The plate is from the painting by Claude Muncaster, ARWS, ROI.

(attached to page 525)





Coastal Motor-Boats


Coastal motor-boats (or CMBs) are the small high-speed torpedo boats evolved in Great Britain by John I Thorneycroft and Company Ltd. The CMBs carry two torpedoes, and rely only on speed and helmsmanship to escape punishment. They are, in smooth water, the fastest naval craft, and in fair weather no other surface craft can catch them. During the war of 1914-18, coastal motor-boats played a part out of all proportion to their size. They attacked enemy submarines, destroyers, aeroplanes and patrol boats, laid mines and made smoke screens. On St George’s Day, 1918, they rendered conspicuous service during the historic raid on Zeebrugge. This chapter is by Sidney Howard.

(pages 529-534)

A slavage triumph - the "Araby"A deep-water lock at Sault Ste. Marie on Lake SuperiorHeaving the capstan round

Sea Shanties


The sea shanties which are so popular nowadays have altered in many ways since they originated in the early sailing ships to help the crews to work together. Every shanty had its own purpose, but modern machinery often obviates the necessity of singing shanties even in sailing ships. Shanties were rarely sung for amusement. They were working songs, designed to get the last ounce of strength from small crew. Shanties therefore had a time and rhythm of their own, designed to give the concerted pull on the rope at thee right moment. They were not ballads and cannot be made into ballads with any success. It is difficult to get the proper rhythm and time unless you have a rope to pull or a capstan bar to push. The back-breaking weight naturally kept the time slow. Only the shanties for the jib or staysail halyards or the capstan were sung at any noticeable speed. This chapter is by Frank Bowen.


(pages 523-528)

HEAVING THE CAPSTAN ROUND. The illustration shows the crew of the Penang raising the ship’s anchor by means of the capstan. Generally a fast shanty that helps the me to keep time and give a concerted pull is used, and Billy Boy was an old favourite for this reason. If the anchor was on a muddy bottom, however, a hard steady pull was necessary, and a shanty with a slower rhythm was used. Weighing the anchor at the start of a homeward voyage was an event which usually called for Shenandoah, Rolling Home or Good-bye, Fare Thee Well. The Penang (2,019 tons) was built in 1905 at Bremerhaven (Germany) and is 265 ft 8 in long, with a beam of 40 ft 3 in, and a depth of 24 ft 4 in.

Taking in the crossjack by Claude Muncaster55 foot coastal motor-boat

A  55 ft Coastal Motor-boat

A  55 ft coastal motor-boat, built by John I Thorneycroft & Co. Ltd, of the type which proved of great service during the war of 1914-18. Numbers of these boats, based at Dover, Portland and Portsmouth, were used for anti-submarine work. There was also an advance base at Dunkirk, on the French coast. The boats generally carried two officers, two mechanics and a wireless operator.

(page 529)





The Australian Coastal Cargo Ship


The construction of vessels used for coastal services differs radically according to local requirements. The coasters working on the Australian coast, where a great deal of freight is picked up from lighters in open roadsteads and in rivers, are designed to carry the biggest load in the smallest space. The composite drawing below is intended to illustrate the smaller types of ships running on the Australian seaboards and rivers. Such a vessel is known technically as a raised quarter-decker. She has a small forecastle and a long well deck, with a hatch nearly 50 feet long and 14 feet wide.


Abaft this ii the superstructure proper, at the forward end of which is a large insulated space for the carriage of butter and dairy products. These must naturally be kept fresh by refrigeration. Abaft the insulated space is the engine casing for the main diesel engine - all such ships are now motor ships - with accommodation alongside.


The raised quarter deck is then clear to the after end of the ship, with the exception of another large hatch. There is a small steering gear house aft, on which a dinghy is housed in davits.


Accommodation for captain and officers is at the forward end. Winches are arranged on the boat deck so as to be clear of the hatches during loading. The winches are electrically operated and capable of handling loads up to five tons. Note the length of the derricks on the foremast and mainmast.


The navigating bridge is a wide open structure with a glazed forefront. A ship of this kind has a deadweight tonnage of about 950 and a gross tonnage of 1,080. She has an overall length of 215 feet, a beam of 36 ft 6 in, and a depth of 8 ft 1 in. A heavy oil engine, with six cylinders 19.7 in. diameter and 35.43 in. stroke, gives her a speed of about 12 knots when loaded down to 12 ft 8½ in draught. Her horse-power is 1,100, at a propeller speed of 155 revolutions to the minute. A total electric load of about 132 kW is required for operating all the auxiliary machinery.


This is the twelfth article in the series on Merchant Ship Types.

(page 535)


The Voyages of Captain Cook


This great navigator’s fame rests on his achievements in exploring and charting lands already found rather than on the discovery of new countries. The accuracy and speed with which he carried out his work won for him immediate and world-wide recognition. Captain Cook was the supreme navigator-explorer. His greatest achievement was the correct plotting on the map of many lands in the Southern Hemisphere. He charted New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. He sailed far south to the Antarctic, and in three voyages filled in the blanks the the early explorers had left on the map. Moreover, Cook was the first man to conquer scurvy, the disease that had been the bane of all ocean voyagers up to his time. His strict attention to detail was extraordinary, and his vision never failed however great the pressure of immediate circumstances may have been. His rectitude and courage inspired the men who sailed with him, and they gave him affection as well as obedience. This chapter is by Sidney Howard and is the second article in the series Supreme Feats of Navigation.

(pages 536-541)

The "Resolution" which Captain Cook commanded on his last two voyages


The Resolution


The Resolution was the three-masted ship of 462 tons which Captain Cook commanded on his last two voyages. In 1772, accompanied by the Adventure (336 tons), Cook sailed the resolution to the Antarctic, reaching lat. 71° 10’ South. In 1776 the Resolution sailed again and Cook attempted to find a passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic north of the American continent.


(page 539)


Novelties in Ship Design


Inventors with revolutionary ideas in naval architecture were responsible, particularly in the nineteenth century, for the construction of many strange and remarkable types of ships, but the ambitions of the designers were seldom realized. All through the history of shipping there has been a succession of freak designs in naval architecture. They represent attempts to produce a revolutionary ship that will overcome all the difficulties of the shipping industry and put its inventor in the way of a huge fortune. When the object is to eliminate certain excessive costs or the handicaps to trade, the inventor is often successful enough until the circumstances change. When, however, the inventor has attempted to evolve a hull form that will cope more successfully with the resistance of the water or with the effect of waves, he has never been entirely successful, because it is only the slow and studied development of existing features that proves of any avail. The article is by Frank Bowen.

(pages 542-547)

The "Thomas W Lawson", the only seven-masted schooner in the world


The Thomas W. Lawson


THE ONLY SEVEN-MASTED SCHOONER IN THE WORLD was built in 1902 by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, at Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. Named the Thomas W. Lawson, she was a vessel of 5,218 tons. Her overall length was 375 ft 7 in, her beam 50 feet and her depth 22 ft 11 in. She was owned by the Coastwise Transportation Company of America, and was registered at Boston. She proved extremely awkward to handle. Her short and disappointing life cam to an end in 1907, when she was wrecked.


(page 542)

The "Vice-Admiral popoff", a circular ship


The Vice-Admiral Popoff

A CIRCULAR SHIP. The Vice-Admiral Popoff was named after her designer, who was a Vice-Admiral in the Russian Navy. The vessel was launched in 1875. She was propelled by six screws driven by her six compound steam engines, which gave a total indicated horse-power of 2,400. The six screws caused her to spin round in the water, and the maximum speed attained was only seven knots. The Vice-Admiral Popoff, 3,590 tons, was 120 feet in diameter, with a depth of 13 ft 6 in. She was armed with two 40-pounder guns.

(page 546)





The Chelyuskin Rescue


For the first time in history wireless and aviation wee responsible for the rescue of an Arctic expedition when in 1934 Russian aeroplanes saved the lives of more than a hundred men, women and children stranded on the Polar ice pack, after the sinking of the ill-fated Chelyuskin. This article is by E E Mills-Joyce and is concluded in part 18.  

(page 548)

Australian coastal cargo ship