Sailing History aboard The Privateer Lynx
Having spent the winter in Ft. Myers Beach, the privateer Lynx returned to St. Petersburg, Florida for a 2 week visit. The Lynx is an interpretation, not a replica, of an 1812 Baltimore Clipper Schooner. This schooner was used to help defend the United States by evading the British naval fleet who were blockading American ports. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, the American navy consisted of only 17 ships. As a result, owners of private sailing vessels were given special permission, called “letters of marque”, to attack British shipping merchants. These letters allowed citizens to capture British merchant ships, not warships, bring them to port, sell the cargo and ship, and keep the profits for themselves, thus the term “privateers”. As the number of these privateers increased, British merchant ships insisted on having naval escorts, thus transferring the British naval fleet away from fighting American warships. This “private navy” was responsible for the loss of 2500 English merchant sailing vessels, sinking 3 British warships, and ultimately contributing to America defending our new found independence to sail and trade freely with whom we please.
The modern Lynx was built in 2001 in Rockport, Maine. The Lynx is 78 feet in length, has a 23 foot beam, with a draft of 9 feet. She is fitted with period weapons and flies flags from the 1812 time period. To maintain historic integrity the 10 permanent crew wear uniforms and operate the ship using the maritime traditions of early 19th century. The Lynx is armed with 6 functioning cannons and 4 swivel guns. She is capable of flying 8 sails with a total sail area of 4600 square feet enabling her to live up to it’s feline characteristics of stealth and speed.