Today, the English sailing schooner is almost as dead as the dodo, and it is rather a doleful tale I have to tell in these pages, the story of the last days of sail in British waters. Twenty-five years ago or even less, our shores and our ports were literally alive with little sailing vessels engaged in our busy coasting trade, lovely sweet-lined topsail schooners, smart brigantines and slately barquentines; but old Father Time has dealt very hardly with them. What is the position to-day? Of all the great fleet that graced the British coasts in 1920, only two purely sailing vessels remain afloat in this year of grace 1947. These are the little topsail schooner Katie of Pad-slow and the Irish three-masted topsail schooner Brook-lands of Cork. All the others have fallen by the way with the relentless passing of the years, or else they have been converted to cut down auxiliary motor vessels, usually operating as motor ships rather than sailing vessels, and so the days of sail in the English coasting trade are rapidly passing. No longer will one see a bunch of little schooners riding to their anchors in Falmouth Roads, and no longer will one see a fleet of wind-bound sailers sheltering off Holyhead. Yet these gallant little schooners of the West Country are not forgotten, and it is with the object of keeping their memory ever-green that this book is written. May it bring pleasure and interest to every one of its readers; if so, my work is well rewarded.
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