The Glenlee was built in 1896 at the Bay Yard, Port Glasgow by Anderson Rodger, a shipbuilder and leading member of the community of Port Glasgow and Greenock. Rodger & Company Built more than 120 ships between 1891 and 1912.
Glenlee under British ownership from 1896 – 1919, made 14 voyages including four circumnavigations of the globe and 15 passages round Cape Horn.
Glenlee Voyage No1
Master Charles Morrison.
Cargoes: General; wheat or lumber.
Liverpool — Astoria — Portland (Oregon) — Astoria — Gravesend.
21/01/1897 — 21/02/1898.
Departure Arrival Duration of Passage.
Liverpool 21/01/1897 Astoria 28/06/1897 159 days
Astoria 28/06/1897 Portland 28/06/1897 1 day
Portland 23/09/1897 Astoria 23/09/1897 1day
Astoria 26/09/1897 Gravesend 21/02/1898 148 days
Glenlee’s maiden voyage had lasted 309 days.
The crew for the duration of the passage, split into two watches, Port and Starboard working 4 hours on duty and 4 hours off. He worked this way every day while at sea giving him a working week of eighty four hours a week. This could be more if stormy conditions were encountered as all crew members would be required to work the pumps, man the wheel or go aloft into the rigging.
Some men were exempt from these duties. These were the “Idlers” each of whom had special duties to perform aboard ship and received more money than the rest of the crew. They worked a twelve hour day (6am to 6pm) with time off for breakfast and lunch. These included the ships carpenter and Sail-Maker.
The apprentices received no wage at all. Instead there families paid a premium of around £30 to the shipping company acting as employer plus a further £10 per year to be paid out at the Masters discretion. An apprenticeship normally lasted four years but, if an individual failed to comply with the terms of his indenture, his family forfeited the premium.
The two watches were quartered in the main deckhouse, a bare featureless place with wooden bunks and bunk-boards to prevent the occupants falling out. Mattresses, called “donkeys breakfasts” by the crew, were made of course linen and stuffed with straw affording the sleeper little comfort. In the corner stood a small stove called “bogey”. A solid wooden mess-table occupied most of the remaining space so that each man was compelled to sit on his sea chest or a bench. Mess-kits, plates and pannikins were stored at one end of the deckhouse in a sturdy wooden locker with a solitary lamp suspended from the bulkhead providing the only source of light during the hours of darkness.
Glenlee carried 25,200 square feet of canvass. Those sails which were damaged had to be repaired or replaced by the sailmaker.
In effect the sailmaker was to the windjammer what the engineer was to the steamship and thus were much respected members of the crew because there trade was a highly skilled one and essential to a vessels survival.
In all weathers, crewmen would struggle out on the yards to furl canvas at heights of 100 feet or more above the deck. This was no mean feat given that the largest sails weighed upwards of a ton when dry and double when wet; the merest slip spelt certain death.
Glenlee The Life & Times of a Clyde-Built Cape Horner by;
Colin Castle and Ian MacDonald