Book Review
Tall Ships Handbook
Tall Ships Handbook
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by: Felix Bustelo [ FBUSTELO ]


In my opinion, there are few things as beautiful as a tall ship on the sea, there is just something about the masts and sails that are timeless. There are many large sailing ships still sailing today as cadet training ships for various navies around the globe or private school ships. This soft cover book available from Casemate Publishing provides a ship spotters guide to these vessels.


This book consists of 175 pages which are illustrated with 240 small to medium sized color photographs to document these ships. The book begins with a brief introduction and a few short chapters that describe what a tall ship is, the festivals and races where you will usually see them and how to use the book as a reference. The meat of the book is the ship directory, which attempts to cover all Class A ships (square rigged ships measuring over 40 meters or about 131 feet in length) that sail internationally. This book does not cover museum ships. The directory groups the ships based on the number of masts (two-masted, three-masted and four or more masts) and within each grouping the vessels are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the ship. Each ship entry is comprised of two pages and has the flag of the country the ship is from, a generic silhouette of the type of ship it is, a formal description of that type (i.e. top-sail schooner, barque, full-rigged), the website for that ship if available, a brief history and two or three photos. Each ship has a data table listing the number of permanent/professional crew, the typical number of cadets/trainees, the port of registration, whether it is a new build, replica or restoration and the length overall in meters, which includes the bowsprit. One final chapter covers ships that were lost, like the replica of the Bounty during Hurricane Sandy in 2013, but it is more of a summary then an entry for each ship.


The book is a well-organized guide to the tall ships that participate in regattas, festivals and general port calls. In her introduction, Amanda Butcher admits that she has missed some and I can tell you that indeed she did. One glaring omission is the Royal Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano. She is mentioned as the sister-ship to the Chilean Esmeralda, which has her own entry, but ship as well-known as this deserves her own pages in this book. Also missing are the Japanese Kaiwo Maru and the replica ship HMS Rose. At the same time, the book lists some that I was not familiar with, such as the Dutch Tolkien and British Lord Nelson.


This publication is meant to be a field guide if you should attend one of the numerous tall-ship gatherings around the world. Its relative small format (235mm x 165mm or 9.25” x 6.5”) makes it somewhat portable. This is not an in-depth reference on tall-ships nor is it meant to be. While it did omit a few important ships, for the most part it accomplishes the author’s goal.
Highs: Well-organized and portable with good quality color photos.
Lows: Not an in-depth reference and some well-known tall ships are omitted.
Verdict: A good ship-spotting guide to the tall ships that are currently sailing the Seven Seas.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-4456-1889-0
  Suggested Retail: $28.50
  PUBLISHED: Sep 15, 2014

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About Felix Bustelo (fbustelo)

I am primarily a ship modeler but I am starting to expand my horizons, so to speak, by building some aircraft and armor models. Kitmaker sites have certainly helped me with this endeavor as well as my ship modeling. I started building models in 1971/72 when I was 6 or 7. I have fond memories o...

Copyright ©2021 text by Felix Bustelo [ FBUSTELO ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


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