Spirit of Bermuda

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The Bermuda Sloop the Spirit of Bermuda in Hamilton Harbour.jpeg
The modern Spirit of Bermuda in Hamilton Harbour
Bermuda (UK) Bermuda
Name: Spirit of Bermuda
Owner: Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF)
Port of registry: Bermuda Hamilton
Builder: Rockport Marine, in Rockport Maine
Launched: August 2006
General characteristics
Class and type: Sail training vessel
Tonnage: 88 GRT
  • 112 ft 0 in (34.1 m) oa
  • 86 ft 0 in (26.2 m) waterline
Beam: 23 ft 0 in (7.0 m)
Draught: 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m)
Installed power: Diesel engine
Propulsion: 385 hp (287 kW)
Sail plan: Bermuda-rigged Bermuda sloop/Ballyhoo schooner

The Spirit of Bermuda is a modern-built Bermuda sloop. She is a replica of a Royal Navy sloop-of-war, depicted in a well-known 1831 painting.

History of the Bermuda sloop[edit]

The Bermuda sloop was a type of small sailing ship built in Bermuda between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Fitted with a gaff rig, a combination of gaff and square rig, or Bermuda rig, they were used by Bermudian merchants, privateers and other seafarers. Their versatility, and their maneouvrability and speed, especially upwind, meant they were also jealously sought after by non-Bermudian operators for both merchant and naval roles. Bermudians built large numbers of them for their own merchant fleet and for export before being obliged to turn to other trades in the nineteenth century. At the end of the twentieth century, no Bermuda sloop remained anywhere in the world, and most Bermudians had no practical or romantic connection to the island's long history as a maritime economy. These were among the facts that prompted the construction of a new Bermuda sloop, the Spirit of Bermuda, and the creation of a sail training organisation, the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, to utilise her in instilling an awareness of the sea and of Bermuda's maritime heritage in her youth.

Design and construction of the Spirit of Bermuda[edit]

Unlike the original vessel, which would have been built almost entirely from Bermuda cedar, utilizing the plank-on-frame method of construction, the Spirit of Bermuda is constructed with more readily-available woods such as Douglas fir and teak, utilizing the modern 'cold-molded' method of wooden boat fabrication. She was built in the US for the charitable Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF) to serve as a sail training ship for Bermuda's youths.

Bermuda sloops were built with up to three masts. While the term 'sloop' nowadays refers to vessels having only a single mast, the term was used differently in the past. In the Royal Navy, the term referred more to the small size of the vessel and to the rank of her commanding officer; a sloop-of-war was an unrated vessel and did not warrant a post captain in command. The single masted ships, with their huge sails, and the tremendous wind energy they harnessed, were demanding to sail, and required large, experienced crews. The Royal Navy favoured multi-masted versions as it was perennially short of sailors, at the end of the eighteenth century, and such crew members as it had, particularly in the Western Atlantic (given the continuing wars with France for control of Europe), received insufficient training. The longer decks of the multi-masted vessels also had the advantage of allowing more guns to be carried.

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation chose a three-masted design for one of the reasons the navy had: it was easier to handle and less dangerous for the inexperienced youths who would crew her. A design with Bermuda rig was also favoured, although the majority of Bermuda sloops historically built probably were fitted with a gaff rig.

The final design, naval architecture and engineering of the vessel was accomplished in Newport, Rhode Island by Langan Design Associates, headed at the time by company founder Bill Langan.

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation[edit]

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation was founded in 1996 by Malcolm Kirkland, Alan Burland and Jay Kempe. During the next eight years, the foundation grew as donations were sought, and the design decided upon. Bermudian singer-songwriter Heather Nova recorded the single Together As One to raise funds for the project. Rockport Marine, in Rockport, Maine, was contracted to build the ship in 2004. The Spirit of Bermuda was completed in August, 2006, and sailed to Bermuda that October. Since then she has operated locally and internationally on sail training cruises. [1]



  1. ^ The Bermuda Sloop Foundation website