The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Tables of the Schooner Challenge
The Monthly Nautical Magazine and Quarterly Review (New York, NY), May 1855, pp. 106-11

Full Text


In giving the mould-loft tables of this vessel, it may not be

improper to make a few remarks, even though the writer and

the builder should be found in the same individual. We are not

of those who hold, that silence is always to be observed when

testimony shall be required upon the various subjects of our

personal experience, of sufficient interest to deserve a. place on

the page of journalism. We have reason to know, that the

vessel above named, although a schooner of 110 tons, engaged

in the internal coasting trade of the Lakes, has excited no small

degree of interest, wherever known ; and it may gratify not a

few to be placed in possession of her secrets. In giving these

to the public, we do no more than we wish to have done by

every other builder in America, who is willing to give and receive the facts of experience, in the line of his vocation, not

less of right than privilege. This magazine was established for

the advantage of all ; and in our new capacity of journalists,

we shall be quite as well pleased to set forth the results of our

correspondents' genius in ship-building as to model and build

vessels in the exercise of our own.

The schooner Challenge was built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin,

and launched in April, 1852. Her owners, Piatt & Brother,

enterprising merchants of that place, confided the entire design,

model, and construction, to the writer, with the intuitive assurance, that in all these respects a competent builder can derive

no assistance from those who can make no pretensions to a

practical knowledge of Marine Architecture. And although

the model which was adopted was entirely different from that

of the vessels of those inland waters, and in this respect, therefore, to be regarded as nothing better than an experiment, yet

such was the intelligence of her owners, this vessel was permitted to go from the hand of her builder free from deformities of

alterations, and we might say, consequently, fairly on a footing

to test her merits. It is too often the case, that experiments in

models, as in many other things, are saddled with the follies of avarice, fear, or prejudice, and thus encumbered with insuperable burthens, till quite broken down under the ignoble load.

This was not the case in the present instance ; and the writer [p. 107]

cherishes with grateful recollection the remembrance of the


The peculiarities of the Challenge arose from the study of

a "Treatise on Marine and Naval Architecture," by John W.

Griffiths, of New-York, published during the year 1850. The

principles laid down in this admirable work the writer endeavored to embody in her model, in combination with such views of

adaptation to the trade designed for, as seemed to be approved by

his own judgment. We think it proper to state these facts, because the influence of an author's writings, although capable of

being legibly traced in all subsequent monuments of mechanical art, is seldom acknowledged by architects as it ought to be.

And it is no less true, that the production of every successful

model makes a mark upon ship-building, which endures long

after the fragments of the lucky vessel have been scattered upon

the strand or sea. Until the appearance of Mr. Griffith's

work, the writer, like many other builders in the United States,

drew upon the so-called researches of theorists in Europe for

the science of his profession.

The Challenge, we are quite sure, was the first vessel on the

Lakes which was avowedly modelled upon the new American

principle. She was designed for a vessel of light draught, a

good carrier, and a fleet, windwardly sailer, and for these qualities she is generally acknowledged to have no superior, of her

size, on the Lakes, where there are vessels that will lose nothing

by comparison with those in any part of the world, for any

quality whatever.

The following are her dimensions : —

Length on load line, 80 feet.

Moulded breadth 21.10 inches.

Breadth extreme, 22.4 "

Depth of Hold, 6.5 "

Displacement, 5800 cubic feet

Custom-House Tonnage, 110 tons.

Cargo, from 65,000 to 70,000 superficial feet of pine lumber.

Deep load draught of water, 5 feet 8 inches.

Performance. — When lumber loaded, and in smooth water,

all sail set, by the wind, and lying between four and five points,

she runs nine miles an hour. In a gale of wind, in ballast trim,

she has run a distance of 25 miles at the rate of 15 miles an hour.

[p. 109] The keel is moulded 7 inches ; the floors being boxed in one

inch, and the plank being two inches thick, leaves four inches

outstanding keel. Sternpost, at the keel, is sided 8 inches ; at

the 5th water line, 13 1/2 inches; stern is sided 8 inches at the

keel, and tapered 15 inches at the gunwale; the fore edge is

bearded to 3 1/2 inches, with the lines of the bow. The frame is

of white oak flitch-timber, four inches thick, (part of it a little

thicker) ; at dead-flat it is moulded 8 inches at the keel, 4 1/2 inches

at the gunwale, and 4 inches at the rail, diminishing between

those points with a straight taper line.

The frames are canted around the bow-spaced 7 inches apart

on the deadwood, and 16 inches at the gunwale, being made in

one stick of flitch-timber, sided 5 inches. Every alternate frame

has a stanchion, sided 5 inches, forming the extremity of the

frame. The round of deck is 7 inches at mid-length. The

centre board is 20 feet long, and the box is 21 1/2 feet long. Both

the board and the box, or the trunk, are made of 4 inch white

oak plank. The board drops through the middle of the keel.

The mainmast stands close up to the aft end of the centre box,

and the forward end is kneed to the keelson with a 7 inch knee.

The keelson is sided 12 inches at the ends of the centre box, and

8 inches at the extremities, and is moulded 12 inches, being

scored two inches over the throats of the frames, and fastened

through every frame with 7/8 inch bolts, riveted below the

keel. There are four strakes of wales, three inches thick,

5 1/8 inches wide at midships, and tapered to 3 7/8 inches at wood-


The bottom plank are two inches thick, white oak, square-

fastened with 5 inch spikes, and the wales are squared off below

to form a flush side. There is one strake of clamps, 12 inches

wide, 3 inches thick, square-fastened with 7 and 8 inch spikes ;

one thick bilge strake, 5 inches thick, 10 inches wide, and 30

feet long, boxed 1 1/2 inches over the frames. The ceiling is two

inches thick. The beams (there are no carlings) are placed

from 2 feet 9 inches to 3 feet 3 inches apart, as required, and

are sided 7 inches, moulded 6 1/2 inches at centre, and 5 inches at

the ends -- all white oak. They are single kneed. The deck

plank is 2 1/2 inches thick, of white pine, kiln-dried. The strakes [p. 110]

are 5 3/4 inches wide at midships, tapering to the extremities, in

proportion to the taper of the breadth of the vessel. The plank

sheer, which is worked down upon the beams, there being no

water-way, is 14 inches wide and 3 inches thick, of white oak,

also tapering with the vessel. The rail is 8 1/4 inches wide and 3

inches thick. The rudder stock is 9 1/2 inches diameter. The

windlass body is 6 feet long and 16 inches diameter, worked by

patent gear; windlass ends are 22 inches long, and 13 inches

diameter. The bow is finished without a cutwater.

The dead-flat frame is located three feet abaft the mid-length

of load line, and the bow is, consequently, the longest and

sharpest end, with hollow water lines, and very easy section

lines. The lifting power of the bow is large.

Spars and Sails. — The foremast is located 18 1/2 feet abaft of

margin, on load line, or fourth water line, raking 7/8 inch to the

foot ; the mainmast is placed 7 inches abaft frame No. 7, on load

line, rake 7/8 inch to the foot. Centre of effort of sail, is immediately over frame B, or the centre of length of load line, and

30 feet 5 inches above the latter. It is also 19 inches forward

of the centre of buoyancy or centre of gravity of displacement,

and about 2 feet forward of the centre of lateral resistance,

unless the centre-board is well down, in which case it is less.

The area of four lower sails, viz. : mainsail, foresail, jib, and flying-jib, is equal to 4,303 square feet of canvas. She carries in

addition a main-gaff topsail, and main-topmast staysail ; but has

no fore-topmast. Hoist of foresail, 47 feet ; of mainsail, 46 feet.

Main-boom, 44 feet; fore-boom, 33 feet; gaffs, 29 feet each;

bowsprit, 16 feet to the stay, outboard diameter 17 inches, at cap

11 inches; jibboom, 35 feet out from knightheads, diameter 9

inches, of white ash. Mainmast, from load-line to trestle-trees,

60 feet 9 inches ; mast-head, 10 feet 3 inches ; diameter at partners, 18 1/2 inches; topmast, 42 feet long; foremast, from load-line to trestle-trees, 62 feet long ; mast-head, 8 feet ; diameter

at partners, 18 inches.

Draught of water when launched, the hull being finished and

having no spars, but with the rigging, blocks, &c., on board, was

2 feet 4 1/2 inches above base line, or 2 feet 8 1/2 inches including

keel, and trimmed on an "even keel." When rigged and ready [p. 111]

for cargo, she drew 2 feet 8 inches forward, and 2 feet 6 inches

aft, above base line, (of model), or 6 inches more with the keel

included. Her trim is upon "even keel," or an inch or more by

the stern when loaded.

Her total cost, when ready for sea, amounted to $4,450.

Two years running repaid her first cost, with interest, when she

was sold for $5,000.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
May 1855
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 44.0906427983976 Longitude: -87.6503248256631
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Tables of the Schooner Challenge