From the golden age of sail to the 21st century
Tall Ships were the only form of global transport during the Golden Age of Sail in the mid-19th century. They were the equivalent of today’s container ships, passenger cruise ships, and warships. They harnessed the wind to carry large cargoes over vast oceans for international trade but were also naval warships to protect the interests of their sovereign states.
The Royal Albatross is no longer equipped for trade or warfare, but is still sailed traditionally by manually pulling on nearly 200 ropes to hoist and lower her 22 sails. Her 650m2 of the sail is made from Dacron canvass of which the 4 on the foremast are square sails. These 4 sails are the ship’s main horsepower and are what classifies The Royal Albatross as a Barquentine Tall Ship. The techniques used to sail the ship are the same today as they were over 200 years ago with the crew having to climb into the rig to prepare the sails and using the ropes from the deck to sail her.
The Royal Albatross’ sails and rigging are new, designed by master rigger Jim Barry, the man behind the Tall Ships featured in the “Master and Commander” and “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
The ship’s wooden interior, including all the unique woodcarvings, were hand-carved by the ship’s crew, originally employed as craftsmen to rebuild the ship and later trained as sailors. Adding to her unique character, the wood selected for the interior is a local Malaysian hardwood called Kempas believed to be over 100 years old.
Most of the ship’s equipment is new and state of the art including its fire fighting, safety, satellite communications, lighting, AV and navigational systems. Unlike our ancestors, however, all the crew wear high-tech climbing harnesses, enabling them to work aloft up to 28m above the deck, while officers wear head-sets for communication during sailing.