tall ships® America

Vessel Type: Gaff-rigged topsail cutter
Flag: USA
Homeport: Portland, ME
Draft: 6’
Beam: 18’ 6”
Power: Propelled by yawl boat
Hull: Steel


Built in the spirit of tradition, Frances is a replica of working coastal pilot cutters that sailed the waters of Maine and New England between 1790 and 1812. Her workboat design heritage sets her apart from modern sailing yachts. Used for local coastal trading in the early 19th century, these small sloops averaged 50 feet in length (length on deck) and displaced about 30 tons. They carried and traded salt, fish, furs and lumber, their designs traditional to Great Britain.
In the winter of 2003, our team of three set out to build this very hull that used to ghost the commercial port of Portland nearly 200 years before.  Led by Hasket Derby Hildreth, construction of her steel hull took place at the Portland Co. on Fore Street.  Here we fashioned our own steel tools (brake presses made of I-beams, steel benders, and cranes) to lay her keel, pattern her frames, and plate her hull.  Her spars, cabin houses, and interior were later finished up the coast in Yarmouth, with oak and spruce from the Maine woods. Frances remains true to the age of sail, with no inboard propulsion, only the use of a slick yawl boat for auxiliary power.  She carries 5 sails:  main, top, stay, jib, and jib top, her mast rising 80 feet off the water.
Frances sails out of her home port of Portland during the summer season in Maine.  She is known in Portland for her tall rig and how she perfectly complements our city’s rich maritime history, sharing 1800 with the fortifications that benchmark the entrances to our harbor.  Visions of two centuries ago found, remembered, and celebrated once again in our time.