PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL
SEVEN-MASTED SCHOONER DESTINED TO BECOME A TOW BARGE
LARGEST SAILING VESSEL EVER BUILT STYLED A MARINE CONVICT
FAMOUS CRAFT WAS BUILT LESS THAN A YEAR AGO
About a year ago at this time the nautical world was on the qui vive about the schooner Thos. W. Lawson, a seven-master, the largest sailing vessel afloat, and the revolution she was to bring to the coastwise trade along the Atlantic. Now she has been tried out and according to the latest advices is to be abandoned as a sailing vessel, and will have to submit to the ignominy of having her spars taken out and be converted to an ordinary tow barge, to be hauled around by a tug.
When this ship was launched there were rumors that her successor in the honor of being "the largest" would have nine masts, and though seamen facetiously suggested that "picket fence" would be an appropriate name to paint on her stern, none doubted for a moment the advisability of building such a craft. As the Lawson is expected to be turned into a coal barge the seven-master may be considered to be a failure, and the advent of the "picket fence" is indefinitely postponed.
Next July the largest sailing ship will celebrate the first anniversary of her birth, and as she is the first American schooner built of steel and handled almost altogether by steam, with telephones and electric sirens, all kinds of patent gear and even a piano, her launching was an event among
seafaring men, while John G. Crowley, Captain and managing owner, launched himself on the matrimonial sea at the moment of the ship's initial dip into the waters of Quincy bay.
Superstitious seamen claim that Mrs. Crowley did not appear suitable as a mascot, as ever since the ship has been in some sort of difficulty, with shallow channels, with hidden bars or with her crews.
The designer of the Lawson was B. B. Crowninshield, creator of the now-defunct Independence; and with her powerful machinery to aid the crew she was predicted to prove as handy as a yacht. Quoting a former member of one of her crews, "She was never loaded to her full capacity, which is about 10,000 tons. When shipping on her, seeing all the engines and fancy
gear about her, I expected to have a soft snap, but soon found that in a head wind she made two dips in the one hole, and as it takes occasionally an hour to put her about we lost too much of our watch below."
The cost of the Lawson was about $250,000. Only one short year ago she was the most talked-about schooner on the coast, while the presence of a piano in her spacious cabin was commented on in all the forecastles that carried almost half a dozen fewer masts.
And now to become a tow barge, numbered like a veritiable marine convict, and only spoken of in connection with her keeper - a tug!***