On the Water

Ship Model, Fishing Schooner Dauntless

This model represents the fishing schooner Dauntless, built at Essex, Mass., about 1855. Its hull is of the “sharpshooter” type, meaning the bottom has a sharp V-shape, as distinct from the rounded hulls of most fishing craft built in New England. The model shows the typical deck arrangement for a schooner sailing to or from the offshore fishing grounds, with the dory boats nested together and lashed bottom-up on the deck. All of the sails are set, including the jib and flying jib on the vessel’s long bowsprit.

Fishing on the shallow banks stretching from Georges Bank east of Massachusetts to the Grand Bank off the coast of Newfoundland was a dangerous enterprise. Thousands of lives were lost in the race to catch more fish and deliver them to market before the competition. The demand for fast schooners led to designs that favored speed over safety. The Dauntless is an example of a mid-century schooner with a fast hull and a great deal of sail. The sailing rig would have required crewmen to venture out on the bowsprit to furl the jib, a dangerous proposition, especially in rough weather.

Details of what happened to the Dauntless and its crew in September 1870 are unknown. But the schooner was lost at sea with all hands aboard, while making a passage to the Bay of St. Lawrence from Gloucester. Those lost included Jas. G. Craig, master, John La Pierre, Martin Costello, John Todd Jr., George Todd, Daniel Herrick, Edward Smith, James Smith, James Welch, George Goodwin, and two others, whose names are unknown.

ID Number:
wood, fabric
47 x 75 x 12 in.; 119.38 x 190.5 x 30.48 cm
Transfer from U.S. Fish Commission

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