Pico Boating: 2 Rival Captains, 2 Small Boats

Back in 1880, ‘A Daring Voyage across the Atlantic’, written by William Albert Andrews was published in London by Griffith and Farran. It chronicled the remarkable voyage of the two Andrews brothers who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a 19’ lapstrake dory. With the purpose of outdoing Thomas Crapo, who did it in the ‘New Bedford’, they commissioned Higgins and Gifford of Gloucester to build them a dory shorter than Crapo’s. She was fully decked, apart from two cockpits which could be sealed with hatches – one for the helmsman near the stern, and another further forward for the other crewmember. Access to stores and the space where they slept was through the forward cockpit. She was much smaller than her overall length would suggest, because her bottom was only 15’ from stem to stern post. Imagine how restricted her crew must have been when sheltering under her deck during gales. Her total depth amidships was just 2’ 3”. Amazing! Her overall beam at the gunwales was 6’ 7”. Astonishingly, she was not fitted with buoyancy tanks. The brothers relied upon being able to pump or bail the water out. I suppose there was very little room for buoyancy in any form.

‘Nautilus’s’ mast was stepped well-forward, to carry an unusual club-footed lateen sail, which must have been a ‘pig’ to reef, but the brothers spoke highly of it, maintaining the triangular sail worked to perfection. The advantage of their lateen sail was that it could be reefed from the security of the cockpits and there was no need for her crew to go on deck. The sail would have had a least three sets of reefing points used in conjunction with the club-boom, capable of reducing the sail area by up to two-fifths. The flexibility of the lengthy yard would have absorbed sudden loading brought about by gusts. This club-footed lateen sail was very forgiving, because the leech was free to spill the wind – only being restrained by the sheet and the weight of the boom. In preference to the lateen sail, they set a square sail when running before the wind.

One of the secrets of their success was the use of a sea anchor secured to a three-hundred foot line. When it was deployed, they removed the rudder to prevent the boat from sailing at an angle to the wind, and to negate damage to the rudder and its fittings. They also deployed a temporary storm sail, presumably on a short removable mast near the stern of the vessel to feather the boat into the wind and seas. It was just as well they thoroughly prepared for gales, because they were subjected to fourteen of them!

It was 7th June, 1878 when William Albert Andrews and his brother Asa Walter Andrews set sail from Boston….

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A Second Article on this adventure.  Written by Kathy Warnes

Two  American mariners, separately challenged the Atlantic Ocean with their small boats and together, decided to make their
voyage from Boston to Lands End in England, a competitive race. They and their backers established a prize of $1,617 American dollars, a silver cup, and the fame and acclaim of being the first small boats to cross the Atlantic ocean.

 William Albert Andrews and Josiah Lawlor knew the Atlantic intimately enough to appreciate its dangers, but the adventure and challenge of sailing a small twelve foot boat across the Atlantic overcame their caution. The two captains and the two small boats left the Ocean Pier near Boston on June 17, 1891, just before dark. More than 28,000 people wished them bon voyage. Captain Andrews and Captain Lawlor set sail together, but they finally lost sight of each other and faced the vast Atlantic alone.

Captain Andrews Falls Short

People called William Albert Andrews captain, although he had never studied navigation  or passed master’s exams. He had learned sailing by hands on experience and he had tackled and tacked the stormy Atlantic several times before.  In 1888, Captain Andrews set off in the 12’9” Dark
, but he didn’t make it to England.

On July 24, 1891, Captain Thomas Morgan, master of the steamshipSobraon, which was on its course from Liverpool to Baltimore, spotted a small boat with its sails set.  Believing that the boat held shipwreck survivors, Captain Morgan bore down on the boat. He discovered to his
astonishment that the boat held just one man. The man explained that he was Captain William Albert Andrews  of the Mermaid and that he was racing a ship called the Sea Serpent from Boston to Land’s End, England. He said that he had been at sea thirty days.

Captain Morgan calculated the Sobraon’s position to be north latitude 42 degrees, 50 minutes West, longitude 50 degrees, 12 minutes ,which meant that the Mermaid was about 2,146 miles from Land’s End, England.

Captain Andrews asked Captain Morgan to forward his log book to theBoston Herald, which he did. Captain Morgan reported that Captain Andrews was in good health and good spirits, and had everything he needed.

Captain Andrews reported that a shark had been following the Mermaid for several days and that when she made fast to the Sobraon,
the two pilot fish escorting their respective sharks, swam under theMermaid until she again set sail when they resumed their leading positions.

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Originally posted 2013-05-28 20:55:52.

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