Cover image for A shipyard in Maine : Percy & Small and the great schooners
A shipyard in Maine : Percy & Small and the great schooners
Snow, Ralph Linwood, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Gardiner, Me. : Tilbury House Publishers ; Bath, Me. : Maine Maritime Museum, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 391 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 29 cm
Corporate Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
VM301.P43 S66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a new firm was established in Bath, Maine, at a time when established yards in the City of Ships were turning to steel construction. Percy and Small would set unrivaled records for wooden shipbuilding and ship management, launching 22 giant five- and six-masted schooners (along with 16 four-masters) in two decades.

Not just builders, Percy and Small also demonstrated an unusual knack for making money as managing owners of a large fleet of schooners, and the stories of their ships are told in these pages in wonderful detail, from the wooing of potential shareholders and the elaborate launching festivities (with one schooner stuck on the ways) to deeply laden coal schooners struggling to stay off the lee shore, daring captains navigating treacherous shoals, and the perils of collisions, dismastings, fires, and enemy submarines.

At sea in a storm, a giant six-master heavy with coal needed great strength to survive. Percy and Small developed specialized shipbuilding techniques that pushed the wooden hull to its limits when the rest of the world had turned to steel construction. Doug Lee's meticulously researched construction drawings add immeasurably to the technical information presented in this book. Maritime enthusiasts and modelmakers will find a wealth of information here.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

As steel replaced wood, Percy and Small of Bath, Maine not only built 45 of the great four, five, and six-masted schooners that marked the end of the age of wooden shipping, but also profited as well by owning and operating them, primarily in the bituminous coal trade between Chesapeake Bay and Boston and Portland. Snow and Lee clearly and effectively present details of the design, building, management, operation, and financing of these vessels. All of these elements could not have been woven together more successfully than they have in this work, which is further enhanced by detailed fold-out hull plans and construction drawings, and an appendix that includes the careers of every schooner launched at Percy and Small. Although this book focuses on one yard, it brings to fruition the pioneering work of Captain W.J. Lewis Parker done more than 50 years ago, and it will remain the standard work on the construction of the great schooners, their role in the coal trade, their struggle against the elements, and their brief respite as commercial carriers because of the demands of WW I. A required addition to all maritime collections. All levels. M. J. Butler emeritus, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth