19 March 2016 Nautical Classification: Sail Bearing Vessels

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Zachary Pylypuik

Mrs. Hohl

English 8

19 March 2016

Nautical Classification: Sail Bearing Vessels

As is the nature of time, it goes on and with it drags passé technologies to be eventually forgotten, however inevitable this nature, which burdens all things, the negligent discounting of these technologies, which have been made unconventional by this nature, is not justified. Great nautical technologies such as: barquentines, brigantines, schooners, ketches, and full rigs, all for the most part have been lost, yet the value of understanding their construction has not. Of the many styles of sail boats each has defining characteristics of design and aesthetic, which, for the intuition of the laymen-hobbyist looking to make sense of the nautical field, ought to be understood.

The first of these ships being the barquentine style ship and the closely related to barque style vessels. Barquentines most commonly have three masts, but can have more, each of which is fore-and-aft rigged, except the foremast, which is square rigged. Barques are similar to barquentines in the amount of masts they may have, although the fore, mainmast, and any additional masts are square rigged, while the mizzen or after mast are fore-and-aft rigged. These ships were commonly merchant ships used as deep water cargo carriers because of their large capacity for cargo, and their smaller crews. Since neither barquentines nor barques were fully square rigged it reduced the amount of crew members needed to operate the ship, thus making it quite popular. The barquentine was first introduced in the 1840’s after some experimental models had been built earlier in the century. The barque appeared around the same time the barquentine, however it was not widely used until the 1860’s(Levy). In conclusion, the significance of these vessels lies in their ingenious design which allowed for inexpensively operating a merchant ship during the 19th century.

Another style of sail bearing vessels are the brigantine and brig sail boats, both of which are considered to be related to schooners. Brigantine ships have two masts, the foremast being square rigged and the mainmast being fore-and-aft rigged. Brigs, however, have square rigging on both the main mast and foremast. Both the brigantine and brig were used commonly as coastal merchant vessels, but the brig was used much less due to its un-economical square rigging. However, the brig was used extensively for naval purposes, as its square rigging provided stability, notably during the War of 1812 (Encyclopædia). Brigantines were used as far back as the 16th century in the Mediterranean, and eventually in northern Europe. (EB Brigantine) The brig, however, was not commonly in use until the 19th century, during which it was used mostly in the Great Lakes and the Atlantic. (Encyclopædia) Thus, the significance of these ships are found in their versatility, and because of it they were deployed in various waters for various uses.

One other type of sailing vessel is the schooner, which can be further categorized as fore-and-aft and topsail schooners. Schooners have two or more masts all rigged fore-and-aft and one or more jib sails. A topsail follows this design, but the foremast has one or more square rigged top masts, while fore-and-afters follow the basic schooner design. Because of top sail’s square-rigged sails, they exceed in distant voyages in favorable trade winds, however they are poor for coastal sailing where winds other than trade winds must be dealt with. The schooner was most likely introduced by the Dutch in the 17th century, however first true schooners were built in the early 18th century in colonial Massachusetts(Encyclopædia). And, these ships were used in and around North America and specifically fore-and-afters were used in shallow waters and coastal winds. So, the schooner style ship is significant because of its ability to handle various winds and waters depending on the style of schooner.

A fourth style of ship is the ketch style vessel, which is closely related to yawl style sail boats. Both the ketch and yawl style ships have two masts rigged with a jib sail, mainsail, or mizzen all fore-and-aft rigged. However, the distinguishing characteristic between the ships is the steering position, if it is ahead of the mizzenmast it is the yawl and if a ketch behind the mizzenmast. Yawl and ketches are both smaller vessels and thus are not suited for merchant, voyager, or naval uses, and is thus used as a fishing ship. Both styles are still commonly used as recreational sailboats and modern ketches and yawls are very common. Ketches and yawls were both used throughout the 16th to the present deployed for various uses. Ketches were introduced first and were originally used by the French in various wars to carry mortars, these were known as bomb ketches (Encyclopædia). So, in conclusion ketches and yawls significance lies in the fact that they are still commonly used vessels.

The final style of ship is the full rig, or just plainly known as a ship. A full rig has at least three masts, each masts has a course, topsail, and topgallant, each of which are square rigged. Most full rigs have a gaff sail on the stern most mast, which is fore-and-aft rigged, otherwise all the sails are square. Full rigs were commonly used throughout the 19th century as deep water cargo ships because of their large capacity combined with square sails, which are optimal in trade winds. However, because of the complexity of rigging in full rigs, these ships often had any additional masts removed and were converted into barquentines to reduce the amount of crew required to operate it. Fully rigged ships appeared first in the 16-17th century in the Mediterranean, however the first modern style full-rig appeared in the 18th century. In conclusion, full rigs are significant in that they are the most complex style of rigging and require the most labor to operate.

Any person looking to immerse themselves in the nautical field should understand the significance of these vessels for their technological and historical value. The advent of advanced sailing technology led to the improvement of transportation, trade, warfare, and the world. So, to disregard these technologies because of the nature of time would truly be unjust.

Works Cited

Encyclopædia Britannica. "brigantine". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016 .

Encyclopædia Britannica. "brig”. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2016 .

Encyclopædia Britannica. "naval ship". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2016 .

Encyclopædia Britannica. "schooner". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2016 .

Levy D. Blethen Adams. “Ships Rigging”. Maritime Heritage. Maritime Heritage Project. Web. 19. 2016.

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