What is a Schooner?

What is a Schooner?

sailing tours

Characteristically, a schooner is a certain type of sailing vessel employing the use of  fore and aft sails on two or more masts, with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts. Other than this, there is no set number of masts for a schooner. Small schooners have about two or three, making them quite manageable, but they can have as many as six or seven, making them somewhat unmanageable. Built in 1902, at 395 feet in length, the Thomas W. Lawson is the only seven-masted (steel hulled) schooner. This vessel carried 25 sails. (Imagine all the rigging!) First used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century, the development of the schooner is tied in with that of the Bermuda sloop.

During the 18th century, schooners were further developed in North America and were used more widely in the United States than any other country. In trades, from the early sailing days to present, that require both speed and windward ability, the two-masted schooners are and were the most common type. (In the past they were used for slaving, blockade running, pirating, etc.)

In the 1850s, recognized worldwide as North America’s center for fishing schooner construction, Essex, Massachusetts produced more than 50 vessels a year. In Total Essex launched more than 4,000 schooners. During the 19th century Bath, Maine was another notable center, with more than a dozen yards working at one time and launching 1,352 schooners. Not only were they used for ocean voyages and coastal runs, but they were also used to carry cargo, back and forth, across the Great Lakes. Some schooners were also used in North American fishing, notably the Grand Banks. Rigged as schooners, America and Atlantic were two of the world’s most famous racing yachts.

Let the wind be your guide as you sit back and enjoy the splendor of Charleston harbor aboard the Schooner Pride and experience for yourself why it is one of the busiest and most beautiful ports in the nation! Aboard the Pride, you are sure to enjoy a unique sailing experience where you are always welcome to help the crew raise the sails, or just sit and relax. Although this is not a narrated tour, the crew would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the Charleston area, the harbor, landmarks, or its history.

The Schooner Pride is an 84’ tall ship, with three masts, that sails within Charleston Harbor. It was built to resemble an old coastal trading schooner and has all the charm and character of the great days of early sailing. It provides our guests with a vision of Charleston as a very prominent sailing harbor and port, as young America first started to develop. An historic landmark itself, this harbor would soon become a critical player in the early formation of a great and powerful nation. The Pride is Coast Guard certified for up to 49 passengers and operates from the Aquarium Wharf in downtown Charleston. Spotting wildlife is not guaranteed, but almost always seen. Frequently, dolphins swim alongside the Pride and are always fascinating to watch as they gracefully bob in and out of the water. You can almost always see a pelican diving for fish or just soaring above.

During your sail sip a glass of wine or enjoy a cool drink as we set sail from Aquarium Wharf towards the historic Battery, and past Forts Sumter and Johnston (historic landmarks of the Civil War). You will pass by the USS Yorktown, docked at Patriot’s Point, and on past Castle Pinckney, the old waterfront trading area where the city of Charleston first developed. See the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Jr. suspension bridge (from a water view perspective) as we sail on past Rainbow Row, and take in the awesome, panoramic views of the Charleston skyline, along with its stunning churches. The best in Charleston sailing, we are proud to be included in one of the “Top Five Things To Do In Charleston” list!

To learn more about The Schooner Pride, visit our website at: www.schoonerpride.com.  

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