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The most famous Baltimore Clipper

The Schooner Vigilant was a Baltimore Clipper that served as a privateer as well as a US naval Schooner.

Baltimore clippers were first built as fast sailing vessels for trade around the coastlines of the United States and the Caribbean Islands.  Their hull-lines tended to be very sharp, with a "V"-shaped cross-section below the waterline and strongly raked stem.   The famous yacht America was conceptually conceived from the Baltimore clipper.  Many Baltimore clippers  went to Australia during the Australian gold rush.

In early 1825, as the much larger frigate was unable to pursue its adversary among the small islands, Vigilant was chartered to take advantage of her relative shallow draft and superior sailing speed. Lt. Carl Irminger was appointed commanding officer in charge of thirty sailors.

Vigilant's first feast was simply beautiful! It was the battle with the privateer Adolfo near Culebra Island in Puerto Rico.

Because the Adolfo was much larger and better armed, the Vigilant had to achieve the surprise factor. All soldiers were hidden out of sight to make the Adolfo believed Vigilant was an unarmed Danish merchantman and ordered it to come alongside.  Once alongside, Captain Irminger brazenly demanded Adolfo's surrender.  Having noticed the pirate was preparing to fire her large guns, Lt. Irminger commanded his men to fire, and thereby achieved complete surprise.  The first volley killed Adolfo's captain La Forcado and the mate; another mate was seriously wounded and later had to have a leg amputated.  Several crewmembers were wounded and the privateer soon surrendered.  Vigilant suffered only one casualty, and that was by drowning.

By the mid 1840's Vigilant was employed as the official packet between Christiansted which was her home port, and Charlotte Amalie.  She made the trip in as little as four and a half hours.  Vigilant continued in service during the first decade of the 20th century.  At one time, the Danish East Asiatic Company sent the motor schooner Viking out to replace Vigilant.  After only a few years of service the Viking was nearly wrecked in 1912 and had to be sent back to Denmark for extensive repairs.  Vigilant once again was back plying her old mail and passenger trade which she did with dignity until the islands were sold to the United States in 1917.

After 1917, no longer used in the passenger and mail trade after the United States purchased the former Danish islands, Vigilant was now employed as a local trading schooner and occasionally chartered out to adventurous tourists.

In the night of September 13, 1876, while lying at anchor at Christiansted, Vigilant sank during a severe hurricane.  A month later she was raised and underwent extensive repairs by Captain Pentheny.  Again in October, 1916, the schooner  went to the bottom during a hurricane.  Again she was raised and repaired.  On September 12, 1928, she again sank during a severe hurricane in Christiansted harbor.   This time she was beyond repair.

In total, Vigilant sailed for 138 years -- an outstanding achievement for a wooden ship which plied the waters from the North to the South, especially in the Caribbean where saltwater, heat, worms, etc. decimate any wooden vessel.  She outdated all other vessels by many decades despite enemy fire, treacherous coral reefs, and the yearly hurricane season.  There is little doubt that the Vigilant was the last Baltimore Clipper.  Her long pleasing lines and tall sharply raked masts were a welcome sight to everyone in the Danish West Indies for more than four generations. 


This Vigilant Baltimore clipper model features:

- Scratch-built

- Superior hollow hull contruction

- 95% wooden and metal

 32" long x 25" tall x 10" wide      $1,900     S & H is $150    SOLD OUT


For display case, please click here: Model Ship Display Case