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February 7, 1977

Santa Maria!

Author Affiliations

Upstate Medical Center Syracuse, NY

JAMA. 1977;237(6):530-531. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270330020006

To the Editor.—  A ship of the dimension given for the Santa Maria (236:1544, 1976) could be built and sailed, but it is extremely unlikely that the mainmast was anything like twice the length of the hull. By the mid-19th century, tall ships were relatively as well as absolutely taller than in Columbus' days, but a ship with a height to length ratio of 2:1 was impractical. To use a mast over 61 m (200 ft) in length would mean using a large hull. To illustrate my point, let me refer to the case of the Great Republic, designed and built by Donald McKay with such a mast. More than three centuries of progress in shipbuilding technique permitted her mainmast to be made in overlapping sections, of these dimensions1:This rig was after the design of Capt R. B. Forbes. However, the Great Republic did not sail with these