Derived from a series of articles by Frank C. Bowen, originally published in the Gravesend Reporter, the book is enhanced by superb pen and ink drawings by Pelham Jones. In the introductory section, earlier vessels are dealt with including Roman and Viking ships, a twelfth century crusaders vessel, a Hanseatic Cog, of about 1480, Drake’s Golden Hind and a merchant ship of the Stuart period.
The main content of the book consists of “biographies” of vessels dating from the Alfred, of 1845 to the Archibald Russell of 1905, with a glance back to the True Briton, East Indiaman, of 1790.
Still thankfully with us, despite many vicissitudes, is the “Cutty Sark” of 1879.
Bowen suggests that he has selected ships “which are still within the memory of the older generation or about whom stories still circulate where sailormen gather to yarn.” The ship biographies are concerned with the “personality” of the ships as their men knew them. The matters of accommodation and comfort, which made all the difference to the sailor and the peculiarities of the men who took them to sea.
The publishers “blurb” states This book will be greatly valued a few years hence when there shall be no more sail, and many things of these ships are in danger, of being totally lost and forgotten.