Atlantic Sails Again

A replica of the famous three-masted schooner Atlantic was launched last month from the Van der Graaf boatyard in Holland. The first Atlantic was designed by William Gardner, a partner in the legendary design firm of Gardner & Cox, for Wilson Marshall, heir to a railroad fortune and a member of the New York Yacht Club.

The schooner was built at the Townsend & Downey yard in New York and launched in 1903. While she was always fast—she hit 20 knots during builder’s trials—Atlantic sailed into the history books two years later when Marshall hired legendary skipper Charlie Barr to make a run at the transatlantic record from New York. Barr and a professional crew of 39 drove her hard. They reached the finish line off the Lizard, on England’s south coast, in 12 days, 4 hours, and 1 minute. It was a record that would not be broken for 100 years.

Atlantic had many other lives after that record passage, including serving as a tender for J-Class boats in the 1930s and naval service during World War II. Eventually her time was up, and she was cut up and sent to the scrap heap in the early 1980s.

Ed Kastelein, the owner of this new Atlantic, has owned many classic boats over the years. In 2001 he built the 137-foot schooner Eleonora, a faithful replica of the Nat Herreshoff–designed schooner Westward, the boat commanded by Charlie Barr commanded after he left Atlantic.

Kastelein asked Doug Peterson to review Atlantic’s lines and flotation plans to make sure everything was done correctly. As a result, the new hull has the identical shape as its predecessor, measuring 185 feet on deck with a beam of 29 feet and a draft of 16 feet. Hull construction, however, was slightly modified to conform to modern practice; the hull plates are welded instead of riveted.

But many things are the same. The original design called for 96 steel frames on 22-inch centers, and the new Atlantic has exactly the same number. Of course, one or two things do stray a bit from the original. They include a powerful bow thruster, air conditioning in all interior spaces, and a modern winch package in bronze from Harken.

Because work on the interior has just started and the spars have yet to be built, Atlantic won’t be under sail any time soon. The three lower masts will be aluminum, while all the topmasts, booms, and gaffs will all be Sitka spruce.

But when she is finished, sometime next year, an 11-person crew will be on board to attend to the needs of up to 12 charter guests. And who knows—perhaps Kastelein will even take a shot at breaking Atlantic’s old transatlantic record. Anybody want to go on that ride?

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