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Old Sailing Ships

Old sailing ships often convey a sense of nostalgia and romanticism to the modern day. They remind us of a magical time when exploration was conducted by charismatic sailing vessels and courageous god-fearing men who searched heroically for distant new worlds, evading superstitious monsters of the sea and bravely believing that the earth was flat. These old ships sailed the seven seas and were the only means to travel between the known world and the mysterious oceanic abyss of the undiscovered. Today they are especially cherished because they have a graceful character and a stylish, legendary beauty that remains timeless. Modern ships simply cannot emulate the visceral historic authenticity that the older sailing ships possess.

Famous Old Sailing Ships Still Sailing

HMS Victory in port

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is one of the most historic sailing ships still afloat. This ship is a true beauty in every sense. One of the last clippers built in Dumbarton England in 1869 for the China tea trade. Although Cutty Sark never arrived back in England quicker than her sister ship and chief rival, Thermopylae, did, she was a very impressive ship which still sits proudly in a dock in London. Teak planking on sturdy iron frames has made the construction of this ship a lasting success. Cutty Sark sailed for the China sea trade up until 1873, after which the ship sailed upon about twenty voyages between Australia and her native England. Cutty Sark is reminiscent of the romantic days of merchant shipping.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory is the oldest surviving warship in the world still in use today. This fantastic ship was built for the British Royal Navy between 1759 and 1765. She is best known for her integral role in the Battle of Trafalgar, but now serves as a living museum to the Georgian Navy and as the flagship for the Commander-in-chief Naval Home Command. This historic ship has seen many battles and currently sits in Portsmouth, England. HMS Victory is certainly something very special. The ship is a living representation of history. It epitomizes the English spirit, fighting and uniting against foreign invasions, including one of the greatest adversaries in history, Napoleon.

Barkentine Gazela

Barkentine Gazela is the oldest and largest wooden square-rigger still sailing in the world today. Built in 1883 in Portugal, she was built to sail fishermen to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. She left Lisbon every spring full of anglers, her cargo consumed with salt. The purpose of the salt was to preserve the codfish for the long trip home. Barkentine Gazela was transferred to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild in 1985, where this not-for-profit corporation maintains and operates the historic vessel with the generous assistance of donors and volunteers. The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild regularly sends her to serve as Philadelphia's Tall Ship to numerous festivals and celebrations along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

History and Legacy of Old Ships

Old sailing ships provide a glimpse into the past. Many of the greatest old ships have long since been buried beneath the ocean, but many still exist and can be appreciated for the beauty they still possess. Many old ships helped transport people to the new world, fight wars, or were essential means to transport goods between nations. These tall ship sailing adventures shaped the world to be as we know it today.


Old ships provide a bridge connecting the past with the present and serve as a symbol of reflection for the glamorous age of tall sailing vessels. These sailing ships from centuries past depended on strong sailing skills of brave men and a perfectly constructed ship. This was an age without the benefit of a waterproof marine GPS system or the convenience of modern brass marine navigation lights. This was a time of great courage when these magnificent vessels were essential to the survival of nations, and these special sailing ships represented the greatest in pride and patriotism.