Strange Love Craft: The Bermuda Sloop

by monkeyfist



BERMUDA RIG – Rainbow (William Starling Burgess, 1934 – photography: Morris Rosenfeld, 1937)

The Bermuda sloop is a sailboat inspired by its purpose and surroundings. The boat’s rigging, usually with sails ahead and behind of a single mast, was good at going upwind, which was useful since most of Bermuda’s trade with North America required such travel. The boat’s hulls were stiff, constructed from Bermuda cedar, making them light and strong and rot resistant. These attributes helped it succeed in fast open ocean running. Some would say the boats, developed in the early 17th century, are “the basis of nearly all modern sailing yachts.”


Bermuda sloop of the Royal Navy entering port in the West Indies – Painting by John Lynn, 1831

additional notes on painting page:

Beginning in the 1790s, the navy procured large numbers of these Bermudian vessels, some ordered directly from Bermudian builders, some bought up from commercial trade. The most noteworthy example was HMS Pickle, which brought home news of British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Bermudian ships, which might have from one to three masts, were employed at first to counter the menace of French privateers in western waters, and later became the standard advice vessels of the fleet – communications carriers, and fast transports of vital materials or persons.

They were also used for reconnaissance and chasing slave smugglers. The vessel shown may be the earliest recorded example of the modern, triangular Bermuda rig on a multiple-masted vessel, though the rig had been used in Bermuda for some time before that. (indigenous boatbuilding)

orig links on wiki:  Bermuda rig and also Bermuda sloop (excerpted below)

photo: replica of the top sail schooner HMS Pickle

HMS Pickle (1800) HMS Pickle was a topsail schooner of the Royal Navy


HMS Pickle – 3 photos on this page


H.M.S. Pickle by Geoff Hunt


H.M.S. Pickle off Port Royal, Jamaica (above) – Fort Charles and the Old Naval Hospital at Port Royal can clearly be seen in the background to the left. From an Oil Painting by William John Huggins, 1841


Rainbow in her first season (William Starling Burgess, 1934 – photography: Edwin Levick)


BERMUDA RIG – His Majesty’s Yacht Britannia (George Lennox Watson, 1893 – photography circa 1930s)

weird trivia: Britannia’s strong performance in the breeze stood out long into the 1920s. Her racing career lasted until she was scuttled as per King George V’s dying wishes, in 1936.

HMY Britannia (Royal Cutter Yacht) on wiki

“After the Prince of Wales’ nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II acquired the racing cutter Thistle in 1891, her Scottish designer George Lennox Watson received a commission from Prince Albert Edward for a sailing yacht in 1892. He designed His Royal Highness’ Yacht Britannia to the “Length And Sail Area Rule” as a First Class cutter”

poem published by John H. Hardie in 1671



image: Bermuda sloop being used as a privateer

wiki: Slavery and the Bermuda sloop

After 1684, Bermuda turned wholesale to a maritime economy, and slaves, Black, Amerindian, and Irish (the various minorities merged into a single demographic group, nominally Black), played an increasing role in this. Black Bermudians became highly skilled shipwrights, blacksmiths and joiners.

HMS Pickle (1800)   HMS Pickle was a topsail schooner of the Royal Navy.

“was built in Bermuda (where this type of vessel was known as a Bermuda sloop) in 1799.”

Bermuda rig – definition on the

“A fore-and-aft rig distinguished by a tall triangular mainsail and a sharply raked mast, widely used on cruising and racing vessels.  Also called Marconi rig…”

the term Marconi was a much later reference to the inventor Guglielmo Marconi, whose wireless radio masts the Bermuda rigs were said to resemble.[1]


A rig of mainsail or course that consists of a triangular sail set aft of the mast, with its head raised to the top of the mast, its luff running down the mast and normally attached to it for all its length, its tack attached at the base of the mast, its foot controlled by a boom, and its clew attached to the aft end of the boom, which is controlled by its sheet.

Originally developed for the bermuda sloop, the ‘bermuda sail is either set as a mainsail on the main mast, or as the course (the principal sail) on another mast. The Bermuda rigging has largely replaced the older gaff rigged fore-and-aft sails, except notably on schooners.

A bermuda rigged sloop with exactly one jib is known as a bermuda sloop, marconi sloop or marconi rig. Bermuda sloop can also refer to a more specific type of vessel.


Bermuda Sloop’s Today

Spirit of Bermuda gallery (in water) — Spirit’s Launch – August 2006, Rockport, Maine


the ship and its historical significance:

Spirit of Bermuda is a purpose-built sail training vessel based on civilian Bermudian-type schooners built in Bermuda by blacks and whites between 1810 and 1840. The original hull shape was adapted from the Bermuda-built Royal Navy “Shamrock” class: fast dispatch / patrol vessels that ran from the Royal Naval Dockyard northwest to Halifax and southwest to Jamaica to contain the rebel colonies. moremoremore


SPIRIT OF BERMUDA (about) on ROCKPORT MAINE MARINE web site extensive gallery of the build and launch


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