Among the coterie of Master Mariners known to
Bell was William Falconer, who is
recorded in 1838 as captain of the schooner Velox, carrying a cargo of sundries
from Ceylon via Mauritius to Table Bay,
the voyage taking from 5 July to 22 August.
|St George in the East, Stepney|
Part of William’s indenture would have been served at sea, gaining practical knowledge in ‘working’ a ship, from the basic skills of splicing and knotting to keeping a reckoning of a course, making observations and learning about winds and tides. After completing his apprenticeship William would enter a long and successful career, acquiring a Trinity House certificate of competency in 1848 and his Master Mariner’s ticket in 1851.
For two years and four months he was master of the Alexandrina, a 294 ton barque employed in the Foreign Trade and built by the firm of Alexander Duthie. The vessel was registered in
in 1849, when Falconer is recorded as both owner and master. Duthie’s yard
built several famous London
clipper barques, including the Ocean Queen, 349 tons, which Alexandrina
In the painting below Alexandrina shows quite a sharply raked ‘
bow’. She has three masts, square rigged on the fore and main masts, fore and
aft rigged on the mizzen. There is only one jib-sail set (she probably has three),
the fore mast has course, top-sail and topgallant-sail set but no royal,
likewise the main mast although the course is probably in the process of being
set. The mizzen mast only carries a spanker (a top-sail is not set) with the Red
Ensign (Red Duster) flying from the gaff. There are no stay-sails or gaff-sails
set fore and aft between pairs of masts. She isn't under a great press of
canvas, and she is apparently off the Aberdeen
|William Falconer's barque, Alexandrina|
To be continued ...