About the Victorine and the Hudson River Sloop

The Victorine, built at Piermont, New York by J.F. Welsie in 1848, was famous for being one of the fastest freight sloops along the Hudson River. This ship is typical of the sloops that carried on the commerce of the Hudson from the time of the earliest Dutch settlements until the steamboats, the railroad, and, finally, the truck ran them out of business.


The original Dutch settlers of New York built small vessels for the Hudson River service which were copied after the sloops used on the waterways of Holland. In three hundred years, the design of the Hudson River sloop changed but little. The first sloop-type vessels to come to the Hudson River had bottoms that were fairly flat, but with their heavy timber keel protruding well below, they drew a lot of water - eight to twelve feet, depending on their size. They also required a very knowledgeable master to sail them up the river.

The Hudson River sloops could carry a large sail area bcause of the relatively smooth water on which they sailed; they needed it for the relatively light winds. Most early sloops carried a square-rigged topsail, but since this required at least three extra crewmen to handle, and since wages were a strong factor even in those days, it was dispensed with in favor of a triangular topsail, which required one additional crew member. In fact, it was this same cost-of-labor consideration which caused the sloops gradually to give way to the schooners in the late 1800's.

The old sloops were built in many yards in many towns along the Hudson, including Nyack, Piermont, Mount Pleasant, Peekskill, Hudson, and Cold Spring. These vessels were built of local wood of almost every kind known to the valley. It is said that the old carpenters went into the woods and picked out the trees which already had the bends and shapes they needed for stems, knees, and frames.

Citation - Hudson River Sloops - A Technical Description


Length (without Bowsprit) - 68 Feet 9 Inches
Bowsprit - 25 Feet
Draft (with Centerboad Up) - 4 Feet 6 Inches
Draft (with Centerboard Down) - 10 Feet 6 Inches
Main Mast - 80 Feet
Main Boom - 74 Inches
Top Mast - 42 Feet
Gaff - 36 Feet
Mainsail Area - 4,063 Square Feet
Jib Area - 1,044 Square Feet
Topsail Area - 640 Square Feet
Total Sailing Area - 5,747 Square Feet

The Hudson River sloop rigging was fairly simple, consisting of three heavy shrouds athwartship to the mast hounds, with no spreaders, and tightened by rigging through dead eyes on the lower shroud ends, and extended frame timber. The sloops carried a forestay to the masthead and a second forestay from the same point on the bowsprit to the head of the top mast. There were no backstays or runners; the weight of the boom, sail, and gaff surely must have been more than sufficient, considering also that the shrouds were run nearly plumb from a slightly raked mast, giving considerable backstaying effect.

Citation - Hudson River Sloops - A Technical Description

Read more about the Victorine and Hudson River Sloops


  • The Sloops of the Hudson; an Historical Sketch of the Packet and Market Sloops of the Last Century, with a Record of their Names, Together with Personal Reminiscences of Certain of the Notable North River Sailing Masters by William E. Verplanck, Moses Wakeman Collyer and George Davis Woolsey
  • Hudson River Sloops; a Brief History and Technical Description, together with Excerpts from a Nineteenth Century Travel Journal by John Maude
  • The Sloops of the Hudson by William D. Verplanck and Moses W. Collyer
  • Life on the Hudson in the Days of the Sloops by J. Robert Atkinson
These books are not available at Phillips Academy. However, if you are a member of the PA community you can come to the OWHL Help Desk to request a copy from another library.

Selected Websites


Links to other sloops in the Addison Collection