Fairport at the Falklands

In August 2000, Nick Dean (ndean@WISCASSET.NET) asked the MARHST-L readership:

According to (British) CDR H. Spencer-Cooper, about the time when the British and German naval forces had begun to engage, "at this juncture a full-rigged sailing ship appeared on the port hand of our battle cruisers; she was painted white, and her sails were shining as if bleached in the bright sunlight... So close was she that the Admiral was forced to alter his courese to pass a couple of miles clear of her, so that the enemy's shell ricochetting should not hit her."

Any thoughts on what square-rigger witnessed the Battle of the Falklands?

Peter Beeston (ionia@HALENET.COM.AU) replied:

This was the Norwegian Fairport, full-rigged and bald-headed, homeward bound from Chile. She crossed ahead of the British BCs whilst they were engaging the German Armoured Cruisers and, during the ensuing night, she passed close to the Light Cruiser Glasgow.

The Fairport was lost at St. Helena by fire in the 1920s.

Paul "Stormy Weather" (stormy@STORMY.CA) added:

"Bald-headed" (in this context) refers to one of the last arrangements used as a labour saving device on square riggers. It had a short topgallant mast, and only set double topgallants with no royal above - and was sometimes referred to as the "stump-topgallant" rig (Masefield inter alia).

Of course schoonermen use the term to refer to schooners without topmasts, and I would hazard a guess that this pre-dates the full-rigged use of the terminology (but would be happy to stand corrected). Smyth (1867) does not mention it - so it is probably relatively recent.

Last Updated: 16 October, 2000.

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