Avast and Ahoy, Matey! The book written by Theodore Parker Burbank, “Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in Maine” was an eye-opener. I can’t find the research to explain why it seems the propensity of schooners to sink is over-whelmingly more so than your average yawl, ketch or cutter, but reading his book would tend to scare me off even a multi-million dollar yacht. There were, no doubt, many more schooners plying the world’s oceans than barques or brigs.
Originally, schooners were gaff-rigged, and these were described often in my grandfather’s sailing adventures. Schooners would commonly have two masts, although there again, the schooners described by my grandfather usually noted three. Popular because of their windward ability and speed, they were used for everything from traditional fishing to slaving and privateering–(gulp!!)–also described more than once by the same Stanley McShane.
Of course, many were used to carry cargo, as varied as spices to lumber and were also comfortable on the high seas as well as coastal runs and large inland bodies of water.
Ted Burbank takes us back to the beginning, describing the ships of the “Golden Age of Piracy” and debunks some pirate myths. Interesting chapters on pirates, including the famous Captain Kidd, who it turns out never really was a pirate!
Burbank then takes us through the shipwrecks from the South Coast and Mid-Coast to Penobscot Bay (New Ireland).
While the focus of Burbank’s book is of pirates, I loved the chapters on treasure in and off shore of Maine and the many neat pictures. It’s obvious he spent a lot of time in research and pulled it all together in a fascinating study of pirates and their ships off the Maine coast. Enjoy watching those waves hit the beach? Love watching those ships? Can you smell that sea air? This book will benefit by the help of a good proofreader, but it’s a fun read and sure gives you the taste for lobster!