The fact may properly be mentioned here that the model and lines of the
Grampus were placed on exhibition at the rooms of the American Fish
Bureau, at Gloucester, Massachusets, in the autumn of 1885. They
attracted much attention, so much indeed that they served as the basis
for designing many new fishing vessels. The Grampus is said to have
been the model for Rydyard Kipling's fishing schooner in Captains
The U. S. Fish commission schooner Grampus is a wooden, two-masted,
schooner rigged, keel vessel. In general she resembles the typical
fishing schooner of New England, from which sbe differs, however, in
the following particulars: -
There are other minor points of difference, and some special
arrangements, the latter having been adopted for the purpose of making
the vessel adapted to the work she had to do, and which it is not
necessary specify in speaking of the points of difference between her
and the fishing schooner. The most noticeable of these pecnliarities is
the well, which is of the type ordinarily termed " box-we11 "
First. She is about 2 feet deeper than the average schooner of
the same length as usually built.
Second. Instead of having a raking stem and a long projecting head
her stem is nearly straight and almost perpendicular above water and
below load-line curves-away at an easy slope to join the keel.
Third. The stern is not so wide, and has much more rake.
Fourth. Instead of the run being excessively hollowed out, leaving the
quarters and counters very flat, with abruptly curved horizontal lines,
the after section of the Grampus approximates more closely to a V-shape
in cross-section, and has much easier lines than the typical clipper
schooner previously in use.
Fifth. In baving wire standing rigging fore and aft.
Sixth. In having the mainmast considerably longer than the foremast.
Seventh. In having a fore staysail and small jib instead of a large jib
like that ordinarily carried by fishing vessels.
Eighth. Iu having the chain plates outside and let into the wales so
to be nearly flush with the plank.
PARTIES WH0 BUILT AND EQUIPPED THE VESSEL.
The hull (including the spars) was built at Noank, Connecticut, by
Robert Palmer & Sons; the sails, rigging, blocks, and ground tackle
were furnished by E. L. Rowe & Son, of Gloucester, Massachusetts; the
boats were built by Higgins & Gifford, of the same port; the steam
windlass was constructed by the American Ship Windlass Company, of
Providence, Rhode Island; the boiler was obtained from M. V. B.
Darling, of Providence, Rhode Island, and the remainder of the
equipment was purchased chieffy from Bliss Brothers and H. M.
Greenough, of Boston, Massachusetts.
DATE OF LAUNCHING, ETC.
She was launched on Tuesday March 23,1886, and went into commission on
Her general dimensions are as follows: length over all, 90 feet; leneth
on loaed water-line, 81 feet 6 inches; beam, extreme at deck, 22 feet 3
inches; beam at water-line, 22 feet 9 inches; depth from top of keel to
top of main-deck beam, 11 feet 1 inch; height of quarter deck, 9
inches; height of bullwarks, deck to top of rail, 26; inches; height of
cabin-house, 271/2~ inches; length of cabin house, 15 feet; width of
cabin house, forward end, 14 feet 7 inches; after end, 12 feet 6
inches; registered tonnage (net) 83.30 tons.
The purposes for which the Grampus was constructed are various, and
have an important bearing upon the work of the commission. For some
time previous to her construction it was felt that it was necessary to
have a suitable sailing vessel provided with a well in which marine
fishes could be kept alive and transported from the fishing grounds to
the hatching stations on the coast, where the eggs might be obtained
for the purpose of artificial propagation. It could also serve a
useful purpose by bringing in alive various marine species not,
perhaps, in a gravid condition, which can be put into large aquaria,
and thus afford to biologists the opportuity to study the habits of our
ocean fauna under conditions that can not possibly be otherwise
It is also believed that a welled vessel, which is seaworthy and
swift, will be able to visit European waters and bring therefrom
alive to the United States certain marine species which do not occur in
american waters, and which are held in high repute for food. The
introduction and propagation of such fish as the sole, turbot, plaice,
brill, etc. in our waters will doubtless be of great advantage to the
United States not only in giving to our people additional species of
delicate food-fishes but also in introducing for their capture the
method of fishing with a beam-trawl, which is not at present in vogue
here, and may, perhaps, profitably employ many vessels and men.With the
object of testing the practicability of using a beam-trawl in american
waters in a commercial way, the Grampus was provided with a trawl such
as is used in the fisheries of the north sea, and certain modifications
were made in her construction to fit her for operating it. While we
have not the species of flat fishes which constitute the principal
objects of the beam-trawl fishery in Europe, there are, nevertheless
several varieties in our waters that are nearly as good, and it is
probab]e that in many localities on the sandy and muddy bottoms
frequented by these off our coast the beam trawl may be very
One of the most important works contemplated by the commission is a
comprehensive study of the movements of migratory fishes in the spring
and autumn when they are approaching and leaving the feeding grounds
frequented by them in snmmer. Hitherto less has been done in that
special line of research than is desirable, owing chiefly to the fact
that the commission has not had at its disposal the requisite means for
conducting so comlplete an investigation as seems to be necessary. In
order to continuously follow the movements of the migratory species it
is necessary to have a sailing vessel which is able to keep the sea in
all weathers. Besides, having sails alone as a motive power, it is not
dependent upon a supply of coal, and may, if necessary, remain at sea
for weeks or months in succession.
An additional requisite for this work is to have a vessel which is
adapted to and fit for carrying on fishing operations, and upon which
various appliances and methods for the capture of fish can be used, in
order that the presence of fish in any locality may be determined
even. when they do not come to the surface.
The Grampus is also fitted with appliances with which the various forms
of minute life that constitute the food of most species of the
migratory fishes can be obtained.
She is specially adapted to making researches at sea for the discovery
and practical investigation of fishing grounds, as well as for
collecting the fauna of the localities visited, and thus determining
the value certain regions for commercial fishing.
Perhaps the most important thing, however, in connection with the
building of the Grampus was the opportnnity afforded to attempt
introduction of new ideas in the construction of fishing vessels, both
relates to form and rig.
For many years previous to 1885 the tendency had been to build vessels
employed in the ocean fisheries from New England wide, shallow and
sharp, the object being to obtain speed and also considerable sail
carrying power, since it was believed the latter was necessary to
produce a swift sailing schooner. This form not only failed to produce
the best results in the matter of speed, but it was highly dangerous
when exposed to a gale a vessel constructed on such principles is
liable to be capsized by heavy seas, and since her center of gravity is
not sufflciently low to enable her to right again, the consequence has
been that in such cases schooners have generally flled and sank with
all on board.
On many occasions the loss of life and property from this cause been
enormous, and the average for a period of years has been great. In the
ten years from 1874 to 1883, inclusive, Gloucester alone had eighty-two
schooners that foundered at sea, of which seven were abandoned in a
sinking condition. But on those never heard from eight hundred and
nniety-five men were lost.
While an increase in the depth of these vessels was the most important
object to be attained, there were, nevertheless, many other objectionable
features besides shallowness in the typical clipper fishing
schooner. Almost without exception, a vessel of that type was built
very wide aft, with a heavy, clumsy stern and fat counters, the run
being hollowed out excessively so as to produce in the after section a
series of very abrupt horizontal curves, which are anything but desirable
when speed is an object. It was also a universal custom to make
the masts of a length that would insure their heads being nearly of the
same height above the water-line, and to carry a large jib extending from
the bowsprit end to the foremast. It is evident that both of these features
When the masts are nearly of an equal length - it follows, as a matter
of course, that it is impracticable to give as much peak to the
foresail as is desirable, providing the sail has all the hoist that tbe
mast will permit. Thus, one of two things is the result; either the
sails are unsymmetrical, from being too square on the head, or else the
foremast is several feet longer than is actually necessary, and that
mnch additional weight of spar is superiluous; besides increasing the
cost it adds materially to the weight aloft and is a serious handicap
upon the speed and stability of a vessel in strong winds and rough
seas. A still greater objection can be urged against the practice of
carrying a large jib. In the first place, when it becomes necessary to
shorten sail, and the mainsail has to be reefed, it is almost
invariably the case that the bonnet is taken out of the jib. In that
event the center of effort of both the mainsail and jib is carried
forward several feet, perhaps an average of seven to ten feet. The
center of effort of the sail being carried so much in front of the
normal position, the effect on the vessel is to prevent her from
holding well to the wind, when sailing close-hauled, and to make it
difflcult for her to come in stays when under reefed sails.
A more serious matter, however, is the fact that when the jib with the
bonnet out cau be no longer carried, and it is necessary to furl it,
the sail can be handled only by men going on the bowsprit, and if the
vessel is by the wind this duty must be performed at a great risk.
Instances have not been uncommon when men were washed from the
bowsprits of fishing schooners and drowned. It is, therefore, evideut
that both for safety of life and to improve the woringk qualities of a
schooner, it is better to have a "double-head rig," since, having a
fore staysail getting on a stay that comes to the knight heads or near
it, the jib can be furled on the approach of rough weather, and there
is no necessity for men to go upon the bowsprit in a gale, while it is
thus possible to keep the center of effort of the sails in its proper
As early as the spring of 1882, the writer urged the desirability of
improving both the model and rig of our fishing vessels, in a series of
letters that were published in the Gloucester, Massachusetts,
newspapers. These communications attracted considerable notice, and
received the squpport of a number of intelligeut meu who were or had
ben interested in the. matter of building or running fishing vessels.
Among these was James Davis, esq., judge of the police court at
Glouscester, and formerly a builder of fishing vessels at that port.
However, although a slight change was made in some vessels to the
extent of building them a few inches deeper, no decided innovation was
made in the construction of fishing schooners until 1884. During the
summer of that year, Mr. D. J. Lawler, at the suggestion of the writer,
built the schooner Roulette, which was nearly 2 feet deeper than the
ordinary fishing vessels of her length. Sbe proved to be remarkably
swift, as well as sea-worthy, though she still had the objectionable
features of a heavy stern and rather flat counters.
In the spring of 1885, after my retnrn from the cruise to the Gulf of
Mexico in the steamer Albatross, Professor Baird
instructed me to prepare the plans and specifications for a sailing
schooner for tbe U. S. Fish commission for which congress had made an
appropriation of $14,000.
It had previously been determined tbat a schooner-rigged sailing vessel
of about 80 tons net register would be best adapted to the requirements
of the commission.
The whole matter of designing her in all the details of model, rig,
interior arrangement, and equipment, with the exception of the steam
machinery and iron water-tanks, was placed in my hands.
The matter of determining what form of steam apparatus would be best
adapted to the work of the new schooner was referred to lieut Commander
Z. L. Tanner, U. S. Navy, commanding the steamer Albatross. He decided
that a steam windlass, with engines of 35 horse-power, would be the
most suitable. Passed Assistant Engineer I. S. K. Beeves, U. S. Navy,
consulting engineer of the Commission, had charge of obtaining and
putting on board the steam boiler, steam pump, iron water-tanks, and
snch piping as was necessary for the operation of the steam apparatus,
and to connect the water tanks.
Owing to the fact that I had to make a trip on tho Albatross during the
summer of 1885, and also that other important work demanded my
attention, the preparation of the plans and specifications for the
Grampus was considerably delayed, and they were not finished until fall.
Acknowledgments are due to Mr. D. J. Lawler, of Chelsea, Massachusetts,
for mechanical assistance he rendered in the preparation of the model
and plans, and for the specially creditable manner in which he "laid
down" the vessel and prepared her molds.
The steam windlass, engines, and boiler were found on trial to be
entirely too heavy and disproportionate to the size of the vessel, and
consequently they had to be removed. A wooden windlass was substituted;
this relieved the schooner of a very considerable accumliation of
weight forward and made her easier in a sea-way.
Images of Grampus from www.photolib.noaa.gov