| by Joseph Ditler - Coronado,
California - USA
The Fleet for the 21st Century
By Photographer Thad Koza
What is a tallship anyway? Is it one
word or two? Can it be a replica? Does it have a set
number of sails? And where the heck did that term
come from anyway?
The term "tallship" has filled
us with visions of topsails, squaresails, and every
possible configuration of rig and hull. The phrase
itself is more often than not attributed to John Masefield's
poem, Sea-Fever: "I must go down to the seas
again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask
is a tall ship and a star to steer her by."
But was he the first? William Shakespeare
wrote in the Merchant of Venice: "The Goodwins
I think they call the place-a very dangerous flat,
and fatal, where the carcasses of many a tall ship
lie buried ...."
The term took a turn for the worse in
the 1980s when PR folk in nearly every port began
to use "tallship" to describe any sailing
vessel coming to town that weekend. The American Sail
Training Association brought some clarity to the issue
when they devised three classes from A-to-C to describe
the majestic vessels - Class A being the largest.
Whatever the definition, there is no
denying the beauty and grandeur of a great sailing
ship heaving over the horizon, with clouds of canvas
spread on yards high. And even the smaller Class C
ships are capable of evoking great passion in just
about any person, of any age, in any port.
Thad Koza's new book, "Tall
Ships: The Fleet for the 21st Century," captures
a wide representation of these glorious vessels in
living color, under full sail, no matter what their
size, shape, age, or number of sails. And it's a grand
The fourth edition of his prized coffee
table treatise features many new additions to his
earlier books, and contains more than 200 vessels
in the three categories of "tallship." His
vessels include the Coast Guard bark Eagle on one
end of the scale, and the little brigantine Black
Pearl on the other. There are brigs, barques, and
schooners, as well as ketches, cutters, and trawlers.
It's been five years since Koza's last
edition of "Tall Ships." Since then there
has been a revival, or renaissance of these lovely
sailing ships that so elegantly conjures up stories
of Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and Patrick
During those five years much has happened
to the fleet. The popularity of traditional sailing
ships has grown but the difficulties of maintaining
these proud vessels too has evolved. Some have fallen
prey to weather, economic downturns, the ravages of
time, and a lack of maintenance.
Hollywood's forays into nautical themes
have benefited some. The movies Master
of the Caribbean
(with its two colorful sequels) have employed several
vessels in their productions and thus brought monetary
stability to the upkeep and maintenance of these fortunate
vessels, not to mention popularity.
Some have found homes in museums, others
have teamed together to present traveling educational
shows with hands-on learning at sea and along coastal
waters. And most all the tallships now carry cannons
as their audiences demand the sound of roaring guns
and the smell of black powder.
Several ships changed owners and ports
in the endless pursuit of financial survival. Others
just sit at the dock, slowly yielding to a lack of
money and endless battles with the sea of a different
kind. Wind-waterline erosion and a heap of neglect
will spell the downfall of any vessel, particularly
one made of wood.
This book is an excellent addition to
any library and contains a thorough bibliography,
index, and glossary. It also includes an exciting
introduction as well as a list of the great maritime
museums worldwide. But most importantly, it should
be noted this book captures the visuals of the tallship
fleet at this very moment in time; visuals that, as
we now know, can change dramatically in the course
of just a few years.
Author and Photographer Thad Koza writes
about marine subjects from his home in Newport, Rhode
Island. He supplements his tallship research with
first-hand photography and sailing excursions on ships
around the world.
For more information on "Tall Ships"
or call (800) 338-2508.
-- Reviewed by Joe Ditler
Ships, Fourth Edition, by Thad Koza
231 pages, full color
Price: $24.95 (US) soft cover; $39.95 (US) hard cover
(Available in UK and Europe by credit card or US bank-drawn