Classic Sail News from 1885-1935 to present

2 U. K. built schooners, one for a French owner

with 13 comments

  • Etoile Filante1911, 122’6″ LOA.  Blt. White Bros.  For French Owner.
  • Elk, later Janeen, then Polynesia1928, (1), 130′ 7″ Des. G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd. (drawings by J. R. Barnett),  Blt. Scott Shipbuilding.  Orig. Gaff, later Staysail.  May have been impounded many years ago by Cuba, if so what is left of her may still be there.
  • We have additional information on these two vessels.
  • Updated  July 29, 2010.

Written by classicsailnews

January 7, 2010 at 6:32 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Dear Peter: Many years ago you took great photos, which I still have, of us sailing on Akka. My information on Elk is mostly from “Great Sailing Ships” by Othmar Schauffelen. My copy is the English edition Published in 1969 by Frederick A. Prager in New York. Unfortunately this book does not provide her designer either, and does not include the name Janeen. I believe as Polynesia she burned, was rebuilt, and in 1972,while on her way back to service, she strayed into Cuban waters. The Cubans impounded her, and held her for ransom. As far as I know she was never released. I will try to find out who designed her. It may take quite awhile so please “Stay Tuned”. Best, Len Smith


    June 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    • Dear Peter, While I was away on vacation I found and purchased a well used copy of your book “The Marine Photography of Peter Barlow” on page 67 is a great photo of the Alden schooner “Sea Gypsy”. Sailed for many years out of Larchmont, her travels since have taken her to the Carib. and the Med. Now sailing under a modern rig as “Summertime”, she has recently been donated to the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. I plan to show your photo to her current people. “Elk” did become “Janeen”, then one of Mike Burk’s “Polynesia’s”. She was designed by G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd. Best Len


      July 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    • My parents sailed with Capt. Mike Burke in the 1950’s and had an oil painting that I think was of his schooner Janeen. Does anyone have any photos of the Janeen online that I can compare the painting with?

      By the way I believe Capt. Mike had a daughter named Janeen.

      My painting is online at

      Thanks, Rick

      Richard Eckert

      March 7, 2011 at 12:05 am

      • Hi Rick, This schooner was originally built in 1928 as a 2 masted gaff schooner for Sir Oliver Simmonds as Elk, then became Janeen, then Polynesia. (There was a later vessel in Capt. Mike’s Fleet also named Polynesia) I do not know if he sailed her as Janeen. She was converted to the stay sail rig during the 1930’s. I have seen photos of her with this rig, and I believe the painting gives an accurate representation of the vessel. She was designed by the firm G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd. which is currently managed by Dr. William J. Collier. For a reasonable price he should be able to provide you with a study copy of her original plans. He can be reached at Best Len


        March 7, 2011 at 1:46 am

      • No, I am Janeen. My father named me after Mike Burke’s schooner. And later on my father named the Herreshoff schooner Janeen after me.

        Janeen Boudreau

        May 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  2. Hi Len
    Thanks for the information about Elk/Janeen/Polynesia. I am working on a new book of photographs which emphasizes designers so it will be great to include G.L. Watson, rival of Herreshoff and the Fifes. But I notice that
    Watson died in 1904 and Elk wasn’t built until 1928. So I’m now wondering
    if he designed her but did not see her built in his lifetime, OR the firm continued under his name and successors designed the boat, OR there was
    a son with the same name continuing the work (seems to happen a lot).
    I photographed JANEEN around 1957, possibly earlier, so the account that
    Mike Burke bought her AS A WRECK in 1958 seems peculiar – she looked good when I saw her! Cheers, Peter

    Peter Barlow

    July 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    • Hi Peter, I don’t know what condition Elk/Janeen was in when Mike Burk bought her. There were few owners for those boats then. Later, after he had owned her awhile, she had a fire, was sent to Miami, refit and captured by the Cubans on her way back to service. I don’t know who actually put pen to paper to design her, but the G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd. firm is credited with her design. The firm is still active under the very capable management of Dr. William J. Collier. You may reach him at


      July 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    • Hi Peter,
      I was the last skipper on the Polynesia (2-masted).You can find my story concerning the trip in the book “The Barefoot Pirate”.Capt. Burke passed away this year.In 1971 the vessel was towed to Havana from the sandbank where she was aground after we met very heavy weather..Months later an offer that she could be had for a “towing-fee” of $300.000 arrived.I still have the logbook.Rumours has it she was repaired and used as a yacht for high officials.Concerning the name Janeen,yes,there is also a Janeen (Burke).By the way,I had a mate onboard one of the ships in the fleet,probably Janeen Boudreau’s brother from St. Lucia.

      Peter Malm, Sweden

      November 12, 2013 at 11:27 am

    • My dad was on the ELK before the 2nd ww2 .as a child I remember a photo of her ….god knows where it went to he was fore top man … any imfo on her I would love to have ..Thank you Capt Brian Fulford email

      Brian Fulford

      January 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      • Hi Brian, Elk, as Polynesia was impounded in Cuba, and as far as anyone knows she may still be there, perhaps under some other name. As the political climate may be thawing between the USA and Cuba we may yet find out. Beken of Cowes probably has photos of her, both under her original gaff rig and her later staysail rig. Best Len


        January 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      • I was talking to mate of mine and we though the ELK became POLYNESIA The head boat owned by Burke who had a couple of other boats in the Caribean carying passengers… and she was totally lost off Roatan with her crew in a big bad huricane and never found ..any body know? thanks.. Capt Brian Fulford

        Brian Fulford

        January 16, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      • Hi Brian, The schooner that was lost was Fantome, during category 5 hurricane Mitch in 1998. She went down with the loss of 31 lives.For more on Elk you might try contacting G. L. Watson, the firm that designed her. Dr.William Collier there may be able to help you out. Best Len


        January 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm

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