Brigantine Yankee

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
Career (Germany) 60px
Name: Emden
Builder: Nordseewerke, Emden, Germany
Renamed: Duhnen, 1919
Captured: May 1945, at Schleswig by Royal Air Force
Career (US) Flag of the United States.svg
Name: Yankee
Builder: Converted at Brixham yards
Fate: Aground on a reef in Rarotonga, 23 July 1964
Status: Abandoned in place on reef
General characteristics
Class and type: Gaff rigged schooner (as built)
Tons burthen: c. 260 t
Length: 96 feet (29.3 m) (overall)
81 feet (24.7 m) (waterline)
Beam: 21.5 feet (6.6 m)
Draft: 11 feet (3.4 m)
Propulsion: 7,775 square feet of sail
Auxiliary Diesel
Sail plan: Brigantine

The brigantine Yankee was a steel hulled schooner, originally constructed by Nordseewerke, Emden, Germany as the Emden, renamed Duhnen, 1919. As Yankee, it became famous as the ship that was used by Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson to circumnavigate the globe four times in eleven years.[1]


The Duhnen, built in 1911, was the last schooner the Germans built before the construction of steam powered ships. It was used for recreation during World War II by the Luftwaffe, and was captured by the British and used as an RAF recreation ship. The Duhnen was refitted and renamed Yankee at the Brixham yards. The new Yankee was 96 feet (29.3 m) overall, with a waterline of 81 feet (24.7 m), a maximum draft of 11 feet (3.4 m). The rig was changed to that of a brigantine with 7,775 square feet (722.3 m2) of canvas.


The brigantine Yankee was the second Yankee purchased by Irving Johnson and his wife, Exy (Electa). They bought it in 1946 with the help of a friend, film star Sterling Hayden. With the Johnsons, Yankee sailed the Caribbean and made four global circumnavigations. The Johnsons' final voyage in the Yankee, made in 1958, was featured in the 1966 CBS/National Geographic television special, Voyage of the Brigantine Yankee. It was scored by Elmer Bernstein and narrated by Orson Welles.

The Johnsons sold the Yankee to Reed Whitney in 1958. He operated it during the summers of 1958 and 1959 in New England waters.

Sometime after that it was sold to Mike Burke of Miami Beach. Burke used the Yankee and the schooner Polynesia, on 10–14 day Windjammer Cruises in the Bahamas, hiring on amateur sailors.


The old schooner was wrecked on a reef a few years later, dragging its anchor in a gale off Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in 1964, owned by Windjammer Cruises, Inc. of Miami, Florida and captained by Derek Lumbers. At the time, Yankee was about halfway through a 14-month global circumnavigation cruise.[2]


  1. "Irving and Electa Johnson Collection (Coll240)". Irving Johnson. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  2. Brigantine Aground in So. Pacific (Associated Press) via Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California, Wednesday, July 29, 1964, Page 20.

External links