Brigantine Yankee

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Career (Germany)Flag of Germany.svg
Name:Emden
Builder:Nordseewerke, Emden, Germany
Renamed:Duhnen, 1919
Captured:May 1945, at Schleswig by Royal Air Force
Career (US)Flag of the United States.svg
Name:Yankee
Builder:Converted at Brixham yards
Fate:Aground on a reef in Avarua, Rarotonga, 23 July 1964
Status:Abandoned in place on reef
General characteristics
Class & type:Gaff rigged schooner (as built)
Tons burthen:c. 260 t
Length:96 ft (29.3 m) (overall)
81 ft (24.7 m) (waterline)
Beam:21.5 ft (6.6 m)
Draft:11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion:7,775 square feet of sail
Auxiliary Diesel
Sail plan:Brigantine
 
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Career (Germany)Flag of Germany.svg
Name:Emden
Builder:Nordseewerke, Emden, Germany
Renamed:Duhnen, 1919
Captured:May 1945, at Schleswig by Royal Air Force
Career (US)Flag of the United States.svg
Name:Yankee
Builder:Converted at Brixham yards
Fate:Aground on a reef in Avarua, Rarotonga, 23 July 1964
Status:Abandoned in place on reef
General characteristics
Class & type:Gaff rigged schooner (as built)
Tons burthen:c. 260 t
Length:96 ft (29.3 m) (overall)
81 ft (24.7 m) (waterline)
Beam:21.5 ft (6.6 m)
Draft:11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion:7,775 square feet of sail
Auxiliary Diesel
Sail plan:Brigantine

The brigantine Yankee was a steel hulled schooner, originally constructed by Nordseewerke, Emden, Germany as the Emden, renamed Duhnen, 1919. As Yankee, it became famous as the ship that was used by Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson to circumnavigate the globe four times in eleven years.[1]

Duhnen[edit]

The Duhnen, built in 1911, was the last schooner the Germans built before the construction of steam powered ships. It was used for recreation during World War II by the Luftwaffe, and was captured by the British and used as an RAF recreation ship. The Duhnen was refitted and renamed Yankee at the Brixham yards. The new Yankee was 96 feet (29.3 m) overall, with a waterline of 81 feet (24.7 m), a maximum draft of 11 feet (3.4 m). The rig was changed to that of a brigantine with 7,775 square feet (722.3 m2) of canvas.

Johnsons[edit]

The brigantine Yankee was the second Yankee purchased by Irving Johnson and his wife, Exy (Electa). They bought it in 1946 with the help of a friend, film star Sterling Hayden. With the Johnsons, Yankee sailed the Caribbean and made four global circumnavigations. The Johnsons' final voyage in the Yankee, made in 1958, was featured in the 1966 CBS/National Geographic television special, Voyage of the Brigantine Yankee. It was scored by Elmer Bernstein and narrated by Orson Welles.

The Johnsons sold the Yankee to Reed Whitney in 1958. He operated it during the summers of 1958 and 1959 in New England waters.

Sometime after that it was sold to Mike Burke of Miami Beach. Burke used the Yankee and the schooner Polynesia, on 10–14 day Windjammer Cruises in the Bahamas, hiring on amateur sailors.

The Last Voyage of the Brigantine Yankee[edit]

The Brigantine Yankee lifted anchor in Nassau with compliment of 26 passengers and crew on the evening of February 10, 1964 and set sail on what was to be a fourteen-month Windjammer Cruises, Inc., 'Around the World Cruise'. After stopping at San Salvador and Jamaica, and passing through the Panama Canal, the Yankee proceeded to the Galapagos Islands. On April 8th, during a stop at Floreana Island, one of the passengers (Sara "Saydee" Reiser) of the Yankee disappeared. Search parties combed the island for several days to no avail and the Ecuadorian navy was eventually called out to investigate. She was never found. The Brigantine Yankee was held at Isla Santa Maria and her crew escorted to Guayquil, Ecuador to be held until a formal inquest was completed. That same week, Time Magazine published an article about the Yankee and her troubles, including the loss of a passenger.[2] Captain Derek Lumbers and crew were eventually returned to the Yankee and they quickly set sail for French Polynesia on May 8th, after failing to pay a $400 levy placed on the ship by the local police. After sailing thirty-two days to the Marquesas and spending two days in port, the Yankee sailed another eight days to reach Papeete, Tahiti on June 19th. On July 8th, the Yankee set sail for Bora Bora before arriving at Rarotonga, Cook Islands in the early afternoon of July 16th. Sometime between the evening of July 23rd and the morning of the 24th, during very high winds and rough surf, one of the Yankee's anchor chains broke and the brigantine was washed aground in the bay at Avarua. The ship was ultimately abandoned on the reef.[3] A court of inquiry regarding the fate of the Yankee was held the following day, with acknowledgments by several passengers that the entire cruise had been under-funded and the ship poorly-maintained.[4] The hull of the wreck of the Yankee could easily be seen from shore for decades after the event, and the final rusted remains are only now being submerged by the sea.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Irving and Electa Johnson Collection (Coll240)". Irving Johnson. Mysticseaport.com. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  2. ^ "Recreation: Down To The Sea". Time Magazine. May 15, 1964. 
  3. ^ Brigantine Aground in So. Pacific (Associated Press) via Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California, Wednesday, July 29, 1964, Page 20.
  4. ^ Olin, Merton. "The Last Voyage of the Brigantine Yankee". 

External links[edit]