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A Shipyard in Maine

Percy & Small and the Great Schooners

A Shipyard in Maine

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  • Shipyard in Maine, A 1

A Shipyard in Maine

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new firm was established in Bath, Maine, at a time when established yards in the City of Ships were turning to steel construction. Percy & Small would set unrivaled records for wooden shipbuilding and ship management, launching 22 giant five- and six-masted schooners (along with 16 four-masters) in two decades. Not just builders, Percy & Small also demonstrated an unusual knack for making money as managing owners of a large fleet of schooners, and the stories of their ships are told in these pages in wonderful detail. Doug Lee’s meticulously researched construction drawings add immeasurably to the technical information presented in this book. Maritime enthusiasts and modelmakers will find a wealth of information here.

ISBN: 978-0-88448-273-4 Categories: , , ,
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In A SHIPYARD IN MAINE, by Ralph Snow, toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new firm was established in Bath, Maine, at a time when established yards in the City of Ships were turning to steel construction. Percy & Small would set unrivaled records for wooden shipbuilding and ship management, launching 22 giant five- and six-masted schooners (along with 16 four-masters) in two decades. Not just builders, Percy & Small also demonstrated an unusual knack for making money as managing owners of a large fleet of schooners, and the stories of their ships are told in these pages in wonderful detail, from the wooing of potential shareholders and the elaborate launching festivities (with one schooner stuck on the ways) to deeply laden coal schooners struggling to stay off the lee shore, daring captains navigating treacherous shoals, and the perils of collisions, dismastings, fires, and enemy submarines. At sea in a storm, a giant six-master heavy with coal needed great strength to survive. Percy & Small developed specialized shipbuilding techniques that pushed the wooden hull to its limits when the rest of the world had turned to steel construction. Doug Lee’s meticulously researched construction drawings add immeasurably to the technical information presented in this book. Maritime enthusiasts and modelmakers will find a wealth of information here.

Reviews:

“…an extensive and detailed history…[Snow and Lee] recount the outstanding history of the Bath shipyard which built some of the largest wooden sailing vessels the world has ever seen. Through Snow’s lively text and Lee’s exquisite construction drawings, readers will come to know wooden shipbuilding at its zenith in the city of ships, Bath, Maine.” -The Maine Journal of Antiques and Collectibles

“…the lore of wooden shipbuilding treasured up in A Shipyard in Maine.” -Yankee Magazine

“Outstanding Academic Titles, 1999” -Choice

“Remarkable…This book is a massive and truly brilliant work of regional merchant shipping history. It is extraordinarily well researched, very well illustrated with relevant photographs, which are always with the appropriate text, and with excellent structural drawings. It is massively referenced and documented, and, at the same time, it succeeds in being highly readable a model for academic writing.” -Basil Greenhill, Maritime Life and Traditions

“Sam Percy and Frank Small were two Maine men whose combined skill and spunk made their mark on Maine maritime history….In just two decades, as a 500-year era of wooden boat building was drawing to a close, their small yard launched over three-dozen magnificent four-, five-, and, incredibly, six-masted
schooners. Over 200 black-and-white photographs and a half-dozen color plates, complemented by co-researcher Capt. Douglas K. Lee’s meticulously detailed construction drawings, illustrate the remarkable engineering, aesthetic grace and seaworthiness of these vessels…. The book chronicles how Percy and Small ran their shipyard with ingenuity, strategy and determination long before the days of modern technology and its applications with regard to boat building or to business management and marketing, for that matter. What could be simply a comprehensive technical and historical reference, is also a highly entertaining read.” -Sunday Kennebec Journal

“The history of Percy & Small is a fascinating one…. If there is any detail missing in the research conducted by the authors of A Shipyard in Maine, it is hard to imagine what it is. The photographs and paintings are all superbly well reproduced…. I knew, loved, taught, and sailed in big schooners. I’ve written articles, spoken at symposiums, and published three books about my experiences in these vessels. If this review encourages you to beg, borrow, or buy a copy of A Shipyard in Maine, you can be certain that it is recommended by one who trod the decks, worked in the rigging, and taught over
5,000 young  people what sailing a schooner is like.” -Captain Francis “Biff” Bowker, WoodenBoat

“[Snow and Lee] researched and wrote, with painstaking detail, about the place where a 500-year chapter in maritime history came to a close…. Back in the 1970’s, they interviewed elderly shipbuilders, learning trade secrets that would have otherwise died with their tradesmen. They searched through old Percy & Small artifacts bound for the dump, they touched up antique photographs of sailing ships and men laboring in the yard and leafed through ancient copies of The Bath Times, looking for notices of ship launchings…..The images of old ships are displayed throughout the handsome hardcover book, containing the authors’ favorite photographs from a collection of 600, as well as color plates of old paintings and centerfolds of intricate ship  diagrams, many of which can be found on the walls of the museum…. The live interviews added a human element to the book, breathing life into the black-and-white photographs of stoic-looking shipwrights.” -Aaron Smith, Maine in Print

“…a hefty, handsome book, easily the best study of maritime history in Maine to come our way in a long time. This book is a history of Percy & Small, and it is as monumental as the output of its subject. A reference book and historical narrative combined, it’s a close look at a subject that doesn’t bore the reader to tears with denseness and trivialities.” -Peter H. Spectre, Maine Boats & Harbors

“…gets the highest marks for exhaustive research, readability, and beautiful presentation. The illustrations alone would be worth the cover price…this is a book for the ages. The authors were relentless in tracking down documents, news accounts, photographs and even individuals who recalled launchings or relatives involved in the firm. Snow and Lee provide what is perhaps the most complete coverage of the business history of a turn-of-the-century shipyard…. they provide remarkably detailed studies of the personalities involved against the backdrop of the changing American economy…. a definitive history… memorable photographs… well-written…this is a book for the ages. Never before has our understanding of Maine vessels in this period been examined so thoroughly or enthusiastically.”        -William David Barry, Maine Sunday Telegram

About the Author:

Ralph L. Snow, former director of Maine Maritime museum and the Maritime Museum Association of San Diego, is the author of the critically acclaimed Bath Iron Works: The First Hundred Years and coauthor (with Kenneth R. Martin) of Maine Odyssey: Good Times and Hard Times in Bath, 19361986 and The Pattens of Bath: A Seagoing Dynasty.

Additional Information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 8.5 x 11.00 x 2.794 in
Author

Ralph Linwood Snow, Capt. Douglas K. Lee

Format

Paperback

ISBN

978-0-88448-273-4

Pages

434

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