The Four-Masted Ship Transit

By Captain W.R. Chaplin, published August 1933


Captain Richard Hall Gower designed the Transit as a response to his concerns about the weight of contemporary masts and rigging. With the enthusiasm born of strong conviction, Captain Gower set out to build a vessel according to his design. He patented the design in expectation of the advantages of hull and rig modifications being adopted by others. Launched in 1800 and originally carrying five masts (later reduced to four), she proved weatherly and fast. She proved capable of sailing independently during the war years, escaping pursuers, until she was wrecked in 1810. Gower tried hard to sell his design by demonstrations and trials, but the Royal Navy, the East India Company and private merchants, were unmoved.  It is difficult to say, from the description of the patent, whether she would have even found much favour among the seamen of the later days of sail yet the Transit’s measure of success entitled her to more consideration than she appears to have received, and to a definite place in the history of sail.

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Navies | Shipbuilding & Design

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