The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), October 8, 1857, page 2

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Launch Of The "R. H. Rae"

On Monday last [October 5], Messrs. Donaldson & Andrews launched one of the most beautiful, and as nautical men assure us, most sea-worthy barques ever set afloat from the St. Catharines Ship-yard. As a piece of naval architecture she is pronounced second to none on the lakes, either for beauty, durability, or speed, and we have been informed she will pass A, No. 1, with a star, the last a distinction much coveted, but seldom realized. The R.H.Rae was built for Rae Bro's & Co., of Hamilton, in honor of one of the members of which firm she was christened. Her tonnage is 42,171 90-5ths; length of keel, 135 feet; breadth of beam, 26 feet; depth of hold, 11 1/2 feet. All the more recent and valuable improvements in ship-building have been adopted by Messrs. D. & A., and the R. H. Rae has received the benefit of their enterpize. She is the first Canadian vessel that has had Cunningham's Patent Self-Reefing Topsail applied, and considering the vast saving of life, money and time this will effect, we hope soon to see the example followed by other ship builders throughout the country. One of the top- sails of the Rae was, on Monday, reefed and unreefed in the short space of three minutes, without a single man going aloft, and herin consists its superiority over the old plan. Lives were frequently lost by the men being percipitated from the yards into the water by a lurch of the vessel and drowned, and it was sometimes found impossible, in very heavy and severe storms, to reef the top sails at all, thereby subjecting the vessel to all dangers incident to carrying too much sail above. Capt. Warner, of Boston, was the first to introduce this improvement into America, and as agent of the patentee was here on Monday last, and expressed himself highly pleased with the enterprize of Messrs. Donaldson & Andrews, and the workmanlike manner in which their vessels are turned out. There are other improvements upon the Rae, which Messrs. D. & A. claim as their own, and which they assert, with great reason, will add much to the strength of their vessels. Instead of, as formerly, finishing the "ceiling" at or below the arch, they continue it up to the deck, against the ribs, then the arch is put on, and over that the "clamp". Although this process consumes a few feet more of wood, it is contended that the additional strength and consequent security obtained, more than counterbalances the expenditure. Another improvement is placing two strong iron bars behind each mast, down through the keelson, instead of alongside the centre-board box, according to the usual plan. Around the centre-board is generally the strongest portion of a vessel, and if leaks do occur in the box, they are always caused by the action of the masts, but the principle adopted by the builders of the Rae will obviate all such inconveniences in future, and keep that part as water-tight as any other portion of the craft. The Rae has also a double "bulkhead", a precaution against accident that will easily be appreciated and comprehended by those not at all acquainted this seafaring life.

The launch itself was performed in magnificent style, Miss Andrews, eldest daughter of one of the firm, performing the agreeable task of giving the barque her name, the R.H.Rae sliding off the "weighs" into her destined element in a smooth and easy manner, and the wish was expressed by many present that the Great Eastern had met with like success, as she was to have been launched only a few hours previous to the noble barque. Afloat, the R.H.Rae is a "perfect picture", and we hope she may long navigate lakes, an honor to the enterprize of her builders and owners. Capt. Bowman, who is well known on these waters, will command her, and after making one trip to Chicago and back this fall, he will return to winter there, where the R.H.Rae will be loaded next spring with a cargo for the "old country", the parties therefore concerned in the Rae will deserve some of the credit due to the pioneers of the through trade, as she will be the fourth vessel that has attempted the same voyage within five years. This trade will yet engage hundreds of vessels, and must ultimately assume a magnitude which we of the present day cannot comprehend. After the launch had been satisfactory completed, a few friends retired into the office of Messrs. Donaldson & Andrews, where a number of appropriate and well deserved toasts were proposed and responded to. The employees also enjoyed themselves in fine style on the premises, the liberality of their employers having furnished them with the necessary articles to make themselves happy and jovial over so auspicious an event as the launching of the first vessel, an event that usually attracts more attention then the birth of a son and heir, and is of infinitely greater anxiety and concern to the interested individuals.

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October 8, 1857
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Peter Warwick
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), October 8, 1857, page 2