Sailing Ship



Narrated by  Jack  Owen

Edited by Marge Prothman
This is a detail of a Sailing Ship named the 'Daylight' on a voyage from British Columbia, Canada to East Africa via Cape Horn, I was a member of the crew and I signed on as an Oiler.

The 'Daylight' is an steel hull, four master, of 3811 tons net. It was built in 1902.

This was the fourth largest sailing ship ever built and it was the largest four master built at that time. When I joined the ship it had been sailing between Alaska and California and towed as a Supply barge for the U.S. Army in 1942.

The owners then decided the ship would pay for itself in one long voyage for the war effort. It was refitted with  engines and had an extensive overhaul in Vancouver, B.C.

Test run, Vancouver, B.C. harbor. 
March 1943

You could not go through the Panama Canal during War time so we had to go around Cape Horn, South America.  On the deck was a cargo of big timbers, but the cargo hold was completely filled with Ammunition and TNT...we never worried about what the cargo hold had in it.

 Who would waste time and ammunition trying to shoot down a sailing ship.

Our voyage took eighty-eight days from Vancouver island, B.C. to Cape Town, Africa including a two day lay over in San Pedro's outer harbor in California to take on fuel, oil and water. We never saw another ship after we left California. This resulted in eighty-six actually sailing days.


At Port Alberni  B.C. Canada we
take on a deck load of lumber 
I joined the ship in Vancouver, B.C. It was commanded by Captain Scott, Chief Mate James Parsons and second Mate Wally Crombie. It  sailed with a crew mostly Canadian  and a few from Denmark and  Norway.  We left the Port of Vancouver on March 29th 1943 at 9.30 a.m.

On April 11th, 1943 we leave from Port Alberni B.C. and head out the Alberni Canal to the Ocean.

Now in the Pacific Ocean we set our sails and sail south along the warm California Coast



Southward we continue and sail into the Tropics. The weather is warm and the days are easy as we move along.

One sailor takes advantage of the warm weather and the easy days to catch up on his reading.




While the weather is good, we start getting things shipshape.



Which included sewing on the sails.


This sailor is doing a repair job and works very high on the Boom.


The weather gets hot as we near the equator and most of us change into shorts.



On May 5th 1943, twenty-four days out from Port Alberni B.C. at 110 degrees West, we cross the equator.

As we cross the equator, King Neptune and Queen Amphitrite come aboard and initiates all those who have never crossed the equator.

It is a fun time, the King holds court and a prisoner is taken and  given a hearing. Then, he is sentenced to a face massage with fish oil applied with a paddle. Next, he receives a ducking in a salt briny pond. Our Mess boy fights back but he also got the same treatment.



The Bow of the Daylight.........

King Neptune comes aboard
with Queen Amphitrite
Face Massage with Fish Oil
Ducked in the Salt Briny





Our Mess Boy fights back




After the initiation is over we all pose with King Neptune and his Queen Amphitrite

Captain Scott, Chief Mate James Parsons and second Mate Wally Crombie look on.





Ever southward we sail and as the days go by we leave the tropics and enter the Roaring Forties.

On June 2nd, the lower top sail blows off, we were in heavy seas, and for ten days we  experienced Gales. 

Then finally under full sail we plunge towards the Horn.






On June 8th, on our 58th day at sea, we round Cape Horn.

The weather has become very   wintery and it is very cold,  we  start to see the ice flows.




After rounding Cape Horn we make our way towards South Africa.

After 76 days at sea Mate Crombie and Captain Scott pose for a picture.

Note: one of our pairs of Lewis guns behind Captain Scott.



On our 88th day at sea from Port Alberni (incl. the two days stop-over at San Pedro), our lookout yells 'Land Ahoy' and we begin to see Table Mountain and Cape Town.

It was July 6th when we anchored at Table Bay.  Some of our cargo was taken off and we eventually left for Durban where more cargo was off loaded.



In Cape Town we had some time off the ship, so we decided to see the sights.

For the evening we put on our town clothes. Then with a few Canadian Army nurses who were stationed at Cape Town we dined at the Del Monico and went dancing at the Blue Moon Cabaret.


In the center of the picture is a young Jack Owen.


The Daylight in the midst of a Typoon

We left  Durban on August 22nd with cargo for Dar Es Salaam and we run into an Indian Ocean Typhoon. During this time we almost lost the ship.

After being in this 'ship breaking' storm for three days, the storm subsides, and we were able to make our way 'very slowly' back to Durban for much needed repairs.

Leaving Durban for the second time on September 16th, we sail to the Tanganyika Port of Dar-Es-Salaam and the Kenya Port of Mombassa where at that time there was a very large Navel Base. Here we unloaded the last of our ammunition.

The ship then took on a load of coal in South Africa and  took it to  Rio, Brazil.  Here the ship was sold to the new owners and the crew was paid off.

 I was discharged as a sick seaman in the hospital at Mombassa, Kenya. I  was transported to Durban, South Africa via a troop ship. The Captain of the Daylight had me rehired and paid a Bond to transport me back to Vancouver, B.C.

Then began the long trip home. I went on a Troop ship from Durban to Port Said via a Polish Ship.  From Port Said I went to Liverpool via a British Ship.  We stopped at Alexandria and took on thousands of British Desert troops, who all got seasick at the same time. The Mediterranean sea can be some what choppy in January.  The main food we ate seemed to be 'Kippers'. I still dislike 'Kippers' to this day. We stopped at the Rock of Gibraltar  and went through the Straits into the Atlantic Ocean with our course set for Liverpool, England.

We had one alert of German planes but did not get hit.

From Liverpool I went on another British Ship to Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was a new passenger ship, built in 1939, I had a cabin to myself which was a treat. From Halifax it was a long train ride to Vancouver B.C.   I arrived back in Vancouver B.C. twelve months after leaving from the Port of Vancouver on the sailing ship Daylight.

Conclusion by Jack Owen,  December 2003 

In Seattle I was interviewed by retired Sea Captain Harold D. Huycke, Editor: and Secretary/Treasurer for the North American Cape Horners Association and Newsletter.

From him  I learned there is a possibility I am the only one left of the Canadian crew. He felt the amount of men who have sailed around Cape Horn on a sailing ship, carrying ammunition during the war, you could count them on your fingers.  There weren't that many sailing ships at the  time.  Such things as Yachts or Training ships do not count, we are talking about a ship taking a cargo and being a Sailing Ship.

John (Jack) Owen, born 1918 in Manchester, England. Died 2004 in North Vancouver, B.C. Canada He immigrated to Canada as a small child with his family. During the 1940's he traveled the seas working on Oil Tankers for Standard Oil. He is survived by his wife.

Article in the Durban Star Aug. 1943

There is no prettier sight than a full rigged sailing ship riding the waves under the bluest of skies. Such sights are only too rare nowadays. The march of time demands speed and more speed, and sailing ships just don’t measure up to it.

But only a day or two ago I saw a sailing ship slowly making her way to a Union port. I had a chat with her skipper and some of her crew.  I expected them to tell me how they had outwitted a U-Boat.  But they said they had not seen a moving thing, except birds and flying fish, since they left a west Canadian port.

Faithful Crew...The ship has an interesting history.  She was built nearly 40 years ago and was the last, and one of the largest of her line.  Then she went the way of many of her kind – she was turned into a barge and did service for many years on the Canadian coast.

But ships, and more ships, were wanted during the war and she was brought back to service nearly two years ago.

Her crew loves her. One of them, a hospital case, with a leg to be mended, told me that every man aboard is serving in her for the love of sail.  Maybe it is because sailing ships must ‘ tack’ their way across the ocean well off the beaten  track.

Article in the Vancouver Sun Newspaper, Oct. 24, 1969


By Charles M. Defieux

     What happened to Daylight, one of the great ships of sail and well known here? Captain Fred Eddy, consultant to our Maritime Museum has a lot of her history, but the story seems to end when she passed into Brazilian hands.

     Captain Herbert Raby, of Sechelt, B.C. veteran master in sail and steam has supplied Captain Eddy with the word she was still sailing when the last war ended.  Just a word about Captain Raby. He’s a Liverpool boy who first went to sea in 1910 and got his extra master’s certificate in 1923.  Some officers who served under him provided him with much news of Daylight’s career and in which they’d shared.

     Histories say Daylight was built at Port Glasgow, one of the largest four-masters ever built, 3756 tons gross, 351 feet long, 180 feet from truck to keelson and with about 50,000 feet of canvas. "One paragraph from the Basil Lubbock sailing ship bibles has her reaching Philadelphia in 1908 after a 145 day passage from Vizagapatan and having 40 tons of barnacles scraped from her bottom".

     Vancouver last saw her in 1942 when she was refitted at Burrard Dry Dock.  Daylight had been sold in 1922 to San Francisco owners, says Captain Raby. Three years later she was bought by the Griffith interest in Seattle, stripped to her lower masts and became a gypsum barge around lower California..  After another lay-up she was moving gypsum between B.C. and Puget Sound.

     Burrard’s history has her leaving them as a barkentine sixth largest sailing ship of any rig, including five masters. Captain Raby tells Captain Eddy of her “peculiar barkentine rig, having top-masts fitted to the original lower masts and a very unorthodox rig.  She carried a cargo from B.C. to South Africa in 86 days.” Then he tells of her going into Brazilian hands.

    Captain Raby adds that Daylight had a sister ship, Brilliant, nine tons, larger. “Both vessels had large ballast tanks, unusual in sailing vessels. And it turned out that Daylight could carry a larger cargo of case oil, generally around 152,000 cases.” One of Captain Raby’s friends had commented on her sailing qualities.  On her first voyage “she was so heavily rigged that even in a fresh breeze, if they wanted to check the yards in a point or two they had to take the braces to the capstans.  After they reached New York, four small capstans were installed around the main deck”.  

In these days of automation with no one in the engine room nights or weekends, for example, it’s refreshing to think of the rugged days of sail.

Article from 'The H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest'

The big steel Daylight, one of the largest four-masted barks ever built, was sold by James Griffiths & Sons, who had been using her as a gypsum barge, to British Columbia owners, who fitted her with a pair of extremely inadequate 400 - horsepower diesel engines, which were augmented by a peculiar barkentine rig, utilizing her old lowermasts with topmasts fitted to them, and adding huge  staysails.  Her new rig was enough to make an old sailor weep, but she performed surprisingly well, making the passage from British Columbia to South Africa in about 86 sailing days. She was subsequently sold to Brazilian owners and continued in operation until after the war.


Page 1    OFFICIAL LOG-BOOK  for A foreign-Going Ship

Page 2    List of Crew and Report of Character

Page 3    List of Crew and Report of Character - continued

Page 4    Record of Boat Drills as required

Page 5    Dates of Departure from an Arrival at each Dock/Harbour

Page 6    Harbor or other place with the Draught and Freeboard

Some Interesting articles and references regarding Tall sailing ships:

Saint Malo's Spirit    -

A Catalogue of Four Masted Barques and Ships

The Daylight



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