Welcome to Sail Freighter Fridays! This article is part of a series linked to our new exhibit: "A New Age Of Sail: The History And Future Of Sail Freight In The Hudson Valley," and tells the stories of sailing cargo ships both modern and historical, on the Hudson River and around the world. Anyone interested in how to support Sail Freight should also check out the Conference in November, and the International Windship Association's Decade of Wind Propulsion.
In sticking with the major ships of the Great Grain Races while the Northeast Grain Race is going on, this week we're featuring the Passat, another of the Flying P-Liners of the Laeisz line from Hamburg, Germany. A Four-Masted, Steel-Hulled Barque, Passat was launched in 1911, and worked in the Nitrates trade like so many of the early 20th century windjammers, bringing Guano from Chile to Europe for making fertilizer and explosives.
Like many of the other P-Liners, she was interned in Chile through the First World War, and granted to France as War Reparations in 1920. She was re-purchased by the Laeisz Line in 1921, and returned to the nitrates trade. In 1932 she was sold to Gustaf Erikson of Finland, who put her on the Australian Grain Trade, and she racked up an impressive 4 victories in the Grain Races. Her fastest run was in 94 days, an average of nearly 160 nautical miles per day, or 6.65 knots.
Eventually, Passat and Pamir were the only two windjammers left on the Australia Run, and they raced each other for the last time in 1949, with Passat taking home the final victory of the Grain Races. After the 1949 race, regulatory changes made her operation economically impossible, when the 2-watch system was barred in favor of the 3-watch system used on motor vessels. The 3-watch system required more crew, which meant too much operating expense, and she was sold to be broken up in 1951.
Passat had an eventful and long career, rounding Cape Horn 39 times in her 38 years. When you account for the 6 years she sat in Chile during the First World War, and sitting out 6 years of the Second World War, she rounded the horn more than once per year! Luckily, she was purchased and saved for use as a sail training vessel in the 1950s, and now serves as a youth hostel and museum ship in Lubbock, Germany.
Steven Woods is the Solaris and Education coordinator at HRMM. He earned his Master's degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities at Prescott College, and wrote his thesis on the revival of Sail Freight for supplying the New York Metro Area's food needs. Steven has worked in Museums for over 20 years.
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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