Basil Smith: Early Fitted Dinghy
Artist: Basil Smith
Back in the days when pirates roamed the seas, the Caribbean was the scene of much treachery and foul play. Islanders learned quickly that, in traveling by sea, speed was of the essence. And so began a new era of lightweight vessels that sailed swiftly like the wind, skimming over the waters evading marauding buccaneers and quickly reaching the safety of their planned destinations. People on the island of Bermuda discovered that a particular species of red cedar made excellent wood for these ships. By 1700, they had become the major shipbuilders in the British West Indies. As times and needs changes, the large "Bermuda Sloops" were replaced by smaller sloops and schooners. Towering rigs of three-masted schooners could be seen dotting the island horizon as officers of the British garrison amused themselves with spirited races along the coast. At about the same time, a new type of boat was developed. A small vessel named Alarm challenged and beat a tweinty-five-foot sloop, working three miles to the windward in thrity-six minutes. She was a thirteen-foot dinghy. Wholly built of cedar, her undersides were copperpainted, and her keel -- originally of wood -- developed into a veritable fin made of iron plate. Four men made up her racing crew and the "Old Bermuda Course" -- six miles to windward and a three mile run -- became the favorite route. Dinghy racing in specially fitted boats soon spread to all parts of the islands and became a widely popular competitive sport.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® Trains & Boats & Planes & More Collection Description Card for the Early Fitted Dinghy.
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