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    Re: From the Scillies to lunars and cooks
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2007 Oct 3, 16:33 +0100

    I hadn't heard Frank's interesting tale before, about the astronomer von
    Zach and the negro cook.
    
    Into that tale he wove some stuff about the "Thomas W Lawson", the immense
    American 7-mast schooner, which he says was "converted into a bulk crude oil
    carrier- an early oil tanker". I wonder about that, because in those days
    oil cargoes usually went as case oil. According to Kemp's "Oxford companion
    to ships and the sea", the bulk oil tanker, as such, wasn't developed until
    the next decade. Previously, Lawson had been used as a barge, under tow
    without rigging, rather ignominiously, carrying oil from Texas to
    Philadelphia. According to David MacGregor's "The Schooner", her cargo was
    case oil on her last voyage under sail, across the Atlantic, a hundred years
    ago.
    
    Indeed, when she (if one can call Thomas W Lawson a "she") was wrecked on
    the Scillies, MacGregor says that she had anchored in the open sea to ride
    out a gale, but her anchor chains parted and she was driven ashore, with
    only two survivors. I wonder what brought that about. There would be no
    reason to call at the Scillies, and no safe anchorage there for a merchant
    vessel: perhaps a weather shift had turned what had been shelter into a lee
    shore. Normally, mariners would do their damnedest to keep well clear of the
    Scillies, especially in a gale, rather than seek shelter there. Did a
    navigational error put here there?
    
    Paradoxically, it was the growth of steam shipping that provided the
    motivation for building those immense East-coast schooners. There were two
    likely cargoes, lumber and coal. The coal was carried by sailing vessels to
    the refuelling stops on the main ocean steamship routes, places such as
    Gibraltar, Aden, Falkland. It was a profitable trade, and the Lawson could
    carry 9200 tons of the stuff, with a crew of only 16, helped by a donkey
    engine for handling the sails.
    
    With seven masts, and seven enormous booms and gaff sails, I bet a gybe was
    fun.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable at george---.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    
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