The Schooner Yankee Foundation

History

The schooner Yankee was born as Loodschooner 4 in Holland as a Dutch pilot schooner. These vessels were designed to go out in all weather, bringing ship pilots to Dutch ports. They needed to be robust and weatherly and certainly, the schooner Yankee was that. She was very heavily built with a sea kindly hull shape and high bulwarks all around. Her moderate gaff rig was easily handled and reefed and the Yankee no doubt weathered many North Sea storms before finding a new home in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Irving Johnson was a great seaman, who in his early days was lucky enough to have experienced some of the last great days of sail on big square riggers rounding Cape Horn. He later had this idea that people would pay to experience a more moderate version of this kind of adventure under sail. He was right. However, he needed a really tough seagoing vessel, small enough for his purposes and yet big enough to accommodate some paying amateur crew. When he bought the schooner Yankee in 1933, he knew he had found the right vessel.

Yankee in Camden, Maine

Yankee in Camden, Maine

Under his able command Captain Irving Johnson sailed the schooner Yankee around the world three times. His first voyage was recounted in the book “Westward Bound in the Schooner Yankee” in 1936.

They experienced real-life adventure as regular folk could only imagine. There were coral atolls and reefs, palmed-lined beaches, remote tribes in New Guinea and a thousand other extraordinary experiences. All this while sailing a fine schooner across the oceans of the world with the trade winds at her back.

After the Second World War, the Boudreau family bought and operated the Yankee with their two other schooners as the Windjamer Cruise company in the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, Canada. After the short summers, they would voyage south to cruise the winters in the warm waters of the Caribbean. Sadly, when the Yankee was left moored one winter, she sank under mysterious circumstances. The Boudreau family went on to pioneer the sailing business in the West Indies owning some 16 vessels over the years.

The schooner Yankee inspired hundreds, if not thousands, to emulate her high seas adventures. Tall ship training and adventure sailing has grown over the years and there are now many vessels in this trade. But, it all began with the schooner Yankee and now, she will sail again, a ghost from the past will spread her white wings to grace the oceans once more.

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