The Maiden Voyage, by Johnnie Cowan
“The City of Georgetown [a four masted bulk cargo schooner launched in 1902] was built in Bath, Maine, by the Rogers Shipyard,” Cowan says, “and it was the hundredth vessel that they built. It was the last wooden schooner that they built, and they wanted it to be very special, which it was.”
The schooner’s gross tonnage was 599 tons, she was 168.7 feet long and had a 12.6-foot draft. Fifty people owned it, including nine men and women from Georgetown. The Atlantic Coast Lumber Company leased City of Georgetown to haul lumber from Georgetown to northeastern ports, and Capt. A. J. Slocum commanded her until she sank off the Delaware coast in 1913 after a collision with an ocean liner.
While researching her subject Cowan was surprised to learn that large schooners had crews of only seven or eight men, and that ships going out of service due to wrecks were the norm rather than the exception for cargo schooners.
Cowan’s painting, titled “The Maiden Voyage,” captures the ship’s fleet flair as it heads to Georgetown through the bay with its sails unfurled and taut, each mast topped with jaunty pennants. The ship is rendered to scale, with one inch equaling 10 feet. It’s a breathtaking depiction of Winyah Bay and one of the last wooden vessels created to sail on it.