Monday, August 22, 2011
The Steam Yacht
The term "steam yacht" encompasses vessels of two distinct uses, but of similar design. The first is a luxury yacht in the modern sense—a vessel owned privately and used for pleasure or non-commercial purposes. Steam yachts of this type came to prominence from the late 1820s to the early-20th century in Europe as large developments of the long-established steam launch used on lakes and rivers. Steam yachts were commissioned by wealthy individuals and often heads of state as extravagant symbols of wealth and/or power. They were usually built with similar hull-lines to clipper ships, with an ornate bow structure and a low, smooth freeboard. Main propulsion usually came from one or two steam engines, later of compound type, or in even later, very large yachts, triple expansion or turbines. Steam yachts usually carried rigging for sails, originally as an auxiliary propulsion system, but later more for show and naval tradition. Private steam yachts were capable of long seagoing voyages, but their owners' needs and habits saw most stay near to the coast. Inland seas such as the Baltic and the Mediterranean were popular areas for using steam yachts.