I collected data for this book for over 30 years.

It is an anthology of stories, anecdotes, poems, photographs and drawings depicting life, culture and activities in the last commercial sailing ships between the years 1906 and 1957 and is illustrated with 42 of my paintings.

The information  was recorded first hand from the final generation of sailing ship mariners. As there are very few still living, this book will be the last to use the words of those who experienced life in these ships.

Format: Hardcover with a 128 gsm glossy art paper dust jacket.
Pages: 304, printed on 120 gsm wood-free paper
Colour: 51 colour plates and 35 photographs printed on 128 gsm glossy art paper.
Dimensions: 290 x 210 mm
Weight: 1.5 Kg

Shipping: We ship to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the USA for orders placed via the shopping cart.

For other destinations please contact us for a shipping quote.

Standard edition

$75 AUD (includes shipping)

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Signed by the author.

An inscription is available on request.

Collectors edition

$130 AUD (includes shipping)

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100 copies have been set aside for special Limited Edition status. They are numbered, signed and remarqued with a hand-drawn sketch on the title page.

An inscription is available on request.


Reviewed by H.A. Willis in The West Australian Weekend: July 31, 2004

“This is a book historians, landlubbers and weekend sailors will all find worth its salt.”

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Robert Carter’s survey of the windjammer era is wide-ranging … There are 42 of Robert’s paintings, each one accompanied by a lengthy caption giving the history of the ships depicted and the particular trade in which it was usually engaged.

One of this book’s significant features is its extensive use of primary sources – the letters, diaries and reminiscences of those who either worked on a windjammer or were lucky enough to have travelled on one as a passenger. Carter has made a valuable contribution to the historical record by locating, transcribing and bringing together so many first-hand accounts.

Much of what he has written is based on his extensive interviews with old seamen, who collectively provide a comprehensive account of the workings of their ships. Apart from the handling of sails, there were tasks of securing cargo and battening hatchs, of loading and unloading ballast and a constant round of maintenance. The reader is reminded of the sheer physical exertion required to perform many of the sailors’ jobs, such as the raising and securing of a two-tone anchor with nothing other than manpower.

… This is a book historians, landlubbers and weekend sailors will all find worth its salt.

An excerpt from the review by H.A. Willis in The West Australian Weekend: July 31, 2004

Reviewed in ‘Traditional Boats and Tall Ships’ Dec 2005 / Jan 2006

“This book is a must for anyone interested in the final epoch in the long history of deepwater commercial sail.”

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It was through his friendship with Captain Eben Anderson, a master mariner who had rounded Cape Horn fout times in the 1920s, that Robert was introduced to a host of other sailing-ship men who were members of the Cape Horners Association. Captain Anderson suggested that Robert write a book containing the memoirs of those who had contributed to his research and the book should be illustrated with Robert’s paintings.

Windjammers: The Final Story is the result. So here we have interviews with the last survivors of the sailors of sail, extracts from their diaries, chapters on British and American vessels, the French Bounty Ships, The German ‘P Liners’, North American Sail, the Grain Ships and the Erikson Era, wartime and post-war windjammers, and much else besides. Not only that, the book, which is beautifully produced in large format, is awash with fine reproductions of Robert’s paintings.

All in all, this book is a must for anyone interested in the final epoch in the long history of deepwater commercial sail.

An excerpt from Traditional Boats and Tall Ships Dec 2005 / Jan 2006

Reviewed by Colin Mudie RDI, Naval Architect

“This is, to quote the vernacular of its period, a thoroughly ‘splendid’ book. I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone with the slightest interest in seafaring.”

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I have no hesitation in recommending Windjammers  to anyone with the slightest interest in seafaring

It is about the life and times of the last commercial sailing ships bit it is written on the basis of long discussions and actual quotations from those who actually sailed on the windjammers. It is largely illustrated by the author’s own paintings of these ships, often portraying some situation or features of the text. These paintings are themselves delightful and they give the impression that they have been painted for the closest inspection by the seamen who were there.

The result is an impressive authenticity which is not always a feature of tall ships.

The book starts with a revue of he last days of sail and then gives general information about the details on board. This is followed by reviews of the British Australia ‘lime juicers’, the French Bounty ships, the Germans and the ‘P’ liners, the American ships, the ships in wartime, and so on to the very finish. Each section is erudite in itself but totally illuminated by the inclusion of logs and personal accounts.

An excerpt from the review by Colin Mudie RDI

Reviewed by Nicholas Wilkins in SIGNALS No.67 Jun-Aug 2004

“Windjammers – The Final Story is both a nostalgic read and a valuable addition to Australia’s Maritime history: a last glimpse into a heroic, vanished seafaring episode.”

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The book is structured around the interviews and stories Carter  researched when he was a member of the International Association of Cape Horners. To qualify for membership of this select band of seafarers you round Cape Horn in a commercial sailing ship; understandably, membership is now below 200.

Windjammers lays out the history of the commercial sailing companies of several nations, including British and Australian, French, the large German ‘P’ liners, and the Baltic grain ships. It covers many engrossing topics of shipboard life, from the intricacies of anchoring and securing hatches, to streamlining the log and working cargo. Headings such as ‘Fights and Violence’ and ‘Shipwreck’ hint at the darker underbelly of shipboard life.

The most distinctive feature of the book, though, are this accomplished maritime artist‘s own beautifully detailed, realistic and evocative paintings of windjammers which bring his narrative faithfully to life. The book ends with a poignant roll-call of the location and condition of the surviving vessels.

An excerpt from Nicholas Wilkins’  review in SIGNALS No. 67 June-Aug 2004