The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post & Tribune (Detroit, MI), Apr. 22, 1881

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Special Dispatch to the Post and Tribune

Toledo, O., April 21. - Fully 5,000 people witnessed the launching of the big schooner "David Dows" at Bailey's shipyard this afternoon, excursions coming in on several Michigan roads. The boat was handsomly decorated with colors. The flags represented a grand sight. At precisly 4:27 the word was given, the ropes were cut, and the boat slid, with a rush, to the water, struck with a curve, righted, and gayly rode the waves. An immense shout from the crowd, the whistling of tugs and the ringing of bells announced the event.



The David Dows is in all respects the largest boat ever launched at a lake port, or that ever sailed the waters of the great chain of lakes. She measures 278 feet in length, is 287 feet over all, 39 feet beam, and 20 foot hold. It is claimed that she not only will be the largest, but the strongest and most substantial craft on the lakes, and the many careful steps taken in her construction to secure strength would seem to indicate the latter point. Her floor timbers along the keel are 12x7 inches, tapering down to 4x6. Her planking is unusually heavy, ranging from 4 to 7 inches inside and out. Among other precautions for strength is an iron strap belt 8x1 inches around her on the outside of the timbers and inside and diagonal belts 4x 5/8 inches. She has two center boards, 27 and 25 feet long respectively, three keelsons 16, 14 and 12 feet, and shifting bulkheads. She has five spars, four of them full-rigged and the foremast square rigged. In her construction, nothing but the most perfect lumber has been used, all having been culled over carefully after reaching the yard. Most of the materials for the hull comes from this section of the state, a great deal of it taken from the woods east of Ironville, while part of it came from along the line of the Wabash road, a few miles southwest of the city. In general it can be truly said that every means that could have been thought of have been used to give strength, solidity and durability. The total cost of the woodwork is about $78,000. All of the work has been done by the Bailey Brothers, under the superintendency of Captain Skelton, who will command the vessel.

The Dows will carry between 5,000 and 6,000 yards of canvas, and from this alone an idea of her proportions can be gained. She is, as stated above, square rigged forward, has foresail, mainsail, mizzensail, jiggersail, and jigger mastsail, four gaff topsails, two top staysails, one square topsail, upper and lower topsails and a multitudinous number of sails, some of them being made and named especially for the Dows. There are 400 yards of hatch covers alone. The contract for rigging the vessel was let to Messrs. Wilcox Brothers, and the price paid will be about $16,000.

On deck she presents a sight as massive as it is grand. Her eight hatches are well protected, as one would suppose, and every pin, spike of rope has its own particular and peculiar place. The forecastle forward is a spacious compartment, well lighted and ventilated, and having eight bunks, all sizeable and serviceable. The ice and provision house is located amidships, is finished in the best possible manner and provided with arrangements for keeping rations in good, sound state. Her cabin appointments are the finest of any boat on the lakes. The large dining room, captain's room, pantry and other compartments are handsomely grained, and will be provided with all modern furniture necessary for use and comfort. The artist who did the decorative work has indeed made his masterpiece, and this may be said of the entire painting done on the boat. J. W. Potts was the contractor who performed this part of the work, and he has given great satisfaction in all respects.

The carving is another feature deserving of special mention. The figure head represents a dragon, massive in proportions, being 24 feet long from tip to tail, handsomely gilded and week put on. The stern also bears the work of the carver, the scroll work and name all being hewn out by hand. Mr. George Buck of Brooklyn, N. Y., performed the difficult task, doing his work in a neat and tasty manner. Mr. Buck carved the figure heads to the Erastus Corning and several of the largest steamers and sailers on the lakes.

The total carrying capacity of this nautical giant will be 140,000 bushels of grain, but she cannot carry over 90,000 out of Toledo harbor, at least until that future great time when we shall have a deepened and straightened channel of several feet more water than there is at present. She registers 1,418.63 tons. When loaded to 15 feet, as she will be when she carries 130,000 or 140,000 bushels, she can be handled much easier than many smaller craft. Her crew will consist of twelve men, with necessary cook and other cabin attendants.

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Apr. 22, 1881
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Dave Swayze
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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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Detroit Post & Tribune (Detroit, MI), Apr. 22, 1881