The figurehead of a sailing ship is the emblematic figure of the ship: it is it which conveys the image of the sailing ship, and beyond that, the image of its country of origin. The majority of the sailing ships of the world have their figurehead, more or less allegorical and often characteristic of the country of origin of the ship. The three-masted ship ‘Sagres II’, is the sailing ship emblematic of the Portuguese fleet. The very art-déco figurehead of the ‘Sagres II’ represents Prince Henry (‘Henry the Navigator), an enthusiastic patron of navigational research and exploration during the 15th century, when Portugal ruled the seas.Read More
Götheborg is a sailing replica of an 18th-century Swedish East Indiaman. It is the world’s largest operational wooden sailing vessel. The original sank off Gothenburg, Sweden, on 12 September 1745 while approaching its home harbour after returning from her third voyage to China. All sailors survived, but the ship was lost. Construction of the replica started in 1995. The Swedish Ship Götheborg has been built according to traditional methods and with the same raw materials that were used in the 18th century. The vessel has a length of 58 m and a width of 11 m.The lion figurehead stands at 15 feet tall and started out as 3 tons of timber. The two decked galleried stern is decorated in the French Baroque style as befitted a Swedish Ship of the Period. I have visited this beautiful vessel in 2012 in Den Helder and during Sail Den Helder 2013.
The Amerigo Vespucci is a full rigged three masted steel hull based in Livorno, Italy. The tall ship is owned by the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) and used as a training ship. The regular crew is about 286 sailors, and is augmented by 120 trainees from the Italian Naval Academy in summer. The vessel is 82,4 m long, with an overall length of 101 m, including the bowsprit and a maximum width of 15.5 m. The ship is named after Amerigo Vespucci (1454 – 1512) a famous Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer. The figurehead of the ship represents Amerigo Vespucci and it is realized in golden bronze. The carvins, that are situated on bow, and the arabesque, what you see on poop, are in wood and they are covered of gold leaf.
In my post New Sail Training Vessel for Royal Navy of Oman I have told you about the the building of a new clipper for the Royal Oman Navy. The new clipper was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, based in Amsterdam. Damen Shipyard, the same shipping company as the Clipper ‘Stad Amsterdam’ and the ‘Cisne Branco’ is building the clipper. Because there are many similarities between the ships captain Richard Slootweg of the clipper ‘Stad Ámsterdam’ has the honor to learn thirty-four men from the Navy of Oman how to sail on a clipper. In June I was two times on board the former ‘Shabab Oman’ during anchorage on the Marsdiep and during berthing in Den Helder. I was impressed by the warm welcome of the captain and the friendly crew. I wish the crew a lot of succes. See for more information about the training the Clipper ‘Stad Amsterdam’.
The ‘Etoile du Roy’ former ‘The Grand Turk’ is a three-masted frigate. She has a length of 46 m and a width of 10 m. The ‘Etoile du Roy’, meaning the ‘King’s Star’, is a pirate ship and is used as a charter ship for events. The figurehead is a one eyed pirate wench. The pictorial representation of the ship was a means of identification in the days when many sailors could not read. Female figureheads were popular, usually baring one or both breasts. This represented the superstitions of the seamen. Women on board ship were thought to be unlucky, but a naked woman was supposed to be able to calm a storm at sea.Read More