Tall Ship Safety in Modern Times


I once knew several people that sailed on Pride and others that sailed on the new Pride.they were good sailors who pushed her hard covered a great many miles to far flung places.

Do I recall correctly that the new Pride had a dismasting off of Spain some years ago?

Wasn’t it Pride that had the running headstays that had to be tacked? I thought that rig was really nuts.


As i recall the bobstay parted causing the rest of the rig to go.

Do you mean running topmost back stays? I would rather have them than not.


It’s been many many years, but I definitely recall a sailing vessel with raked masts and running head stays. The only place I have ever seen them. I was thinking it might have been PRIDE. I could be wrong.


I think you’re right. Here’s a picture of what I think is the original Pride of Baltimore showing running headstays:

(Click for larger images)

and here’s a picture of Pride II which appears to be missing them:




On Monday, September 5, 2005, Pride of Baltimore II experienced a catastrophic rig failure, which also resulted in the collapse of both masts, while sailing in the Bay of Biscay, off the west coast of France.
Miraculously, no one was injured.
The incident occurred when the Ship was underway during a Squall. The Bowsprit broke About halfway along its length, in turn bringing the Rigging down. With no support system, the Foremast splintered and collapsed, hitting the Mainmast on the way down. The wire Rope stays that Secure the Foremast are also fixed to the Mainmast, so it too broke off under the strain of the sea swells About 25 feet above the Deck. The Mainmast then splintered and also came down. The Captain and crew responded quickly, and due to their excellent seamanship, were able to retrieve much of the materials. They were able to motor the vessel the 80 miles to Saint-Nazaire on the French coast of Biscay Bay where the vessel was taken under repair.


According to the designer’s sail plans, both Pride and Pride II have running forestays from the main mast. Agree that they are not visible in the second photo above (aren’t both photos of Pride II?), but they are visible in other photos of Pride II. In this picture, you can see the starboard running forestay not under load running from main mast to the base of the foremast.


This made me laugh. It certainly doesn’t describe the U.S. regulatory bodies.

I think you are giving way to much credit to the old designers of the 1700s and 1800s. The majority of boat builders in the US were not educated, But instead apprenticed. As the boats evolved, it was mostly trial and error. My gut feeling is that they were much more prone to taking risks and accepting failures.

It wasn’t a science back then as much as it was an art. I think the naval architecture now days has come a long way. Sailboat designers generally seem to know what they are doing, And whether it is a steel box ship or a wooden tall ship, the stability calc is the same.


That’s not how I understood that comment. There is a huge complex infrastructure behind our transportation system, imagine what it takes to build a freeway, or freeway interchange.

That’s not to characterize the clerks behind the counter at the DMV. In fact in an efficient system they should barely be able to do their jobs.


I was referring to the total sum of expertise from the legislators and enforcers through the accredited engineers who design, construct and survey vessels to meet specified safety criteria. While its easy to laugh at my statement in view of the efficacy of voluntary fire extinguisher inspections, Samuel Plimsoll’s legacy has come a long way towards protecting mariners from unsafe practices.

The mathematical tools for analyzing stability have been around since the middle of the 18th century. I won’t pretend to know how quickly they were put to universal use in naval architecture, but I would expect the process to be fairly rapid on certain fronts, if for no other reason than rationalization and performance maximization. Does anyone have a link to a relevant article?

True. To this day there are boats built to designs that have endured centuries only as poetry, whereas the cutting edge of sailboat design has reached absolute analytical mastery. Still, I maintain that there was generally a better working understanding of the operational limitations of these machines back then.


I hope to clear up a few things in the comments above, even though there are many lines of discussion here.

I sailed as Master on POBII for 9 years and the author of Tall Ship’s Down was also my mate back in the 1990s.
POBII and POB both have “Running Main Stays” that are “tacked” every time the vessel tacks from Port to Starb’d. The “Lazy” runner is pulled back to the Main Shrouds on the leeward side, and lashed in place with a gun tackle to those shrouds.

The line in the above picture that is described as the Main Runner is in actuality a Fore Gaff Preventer when the vessel is running off the wind. This Preventer is run forward and made off and settles the gaff down in a rolling sea while off the wind. The Preventer is in the “lazy” position in the picture.

Portofdc posted a description, actually part of a press release, of the POBII dismasting off the coast of Spain. The actual cause of the dismasting was ironwork that broke on a bobstay deadeye, leading to the chain of events. I received the second phone call from the Master after they got dockside in order to discuss a plan for restoration and mutual support after having sailed the vessel for some period in the same waters.

I trust this clears a few things up.