A schooner ( // SKOO-nər) is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: fore-and-aft rigged on all of two or more masts and, in the case of a two-masted schooner, the foremast generally being shorter than the mainmast. A common variant, the topsail schooner also has a square topsail on the foremast, to which may be added a topgallant. Differing definitions leave uncertain whether the addition of a fore course would make such a vessel a brigantine. Many schooners are gaff-rigged, but other examples include Bermuda rig and the staysail schooner. : 211 : 26 : 100 : 48
The name "schooner" first appeared in eastern North America in the early 1700s.The name may be related to a Scots word meaning to skip over water, or to skip stones.
The origins of schooner rigged vessels is obscure, but there is good evidence of them from the early 17th century in paintings by Dutch marine artists. The earliest known illustration of a schooner depicts a yacht owned by the mayors (Dutch: burgemeesters) of Amsterdam, drawn by the Dutch artist Rool and dated 1600. Later examples show schooners (Dutch: schoeners) in Amsterdam in 1638 and New Amsterdam in 1627. Paintings by Van de Velde (1633–1707) and an engraving by Jan Kip of the Thames at Lambeth, dated 1697, suggest that schooner rig was common in England and Holland by the end of the 17th century. The Royal Transport was an example of a large British-built schooner, launched in 1695 at Chatham. : 233 : 13
The schooner rig was used in vessels with a wide range of purposes. On a fast hull, good ability to windward was useful for privateers, blockade runners, slave ships, smaller naval craft and opium clippers. Packet boats (built for the fast conveyance of passengers and goods) were often schooners. Fruit schooners were noted for their quick passages, taking their perishable cargoes on routes such as the Azores to Britain. Some pilot boats adopted the rig. The fishing vessels that worked the Grand Banks of Newfoundland were schooners, and held in high regard as an outstanding development of the type. In merchant use, the ease of handling in confined waters and smaller crew requirements made schooners a common rig, especially in the 19th century. Some schooners worked on deep sea routes. In British home waters, schooners usually had cargo-carrying hulls that were designed to take the ground in drying harbours (or, even, to unload dried out on an open beach). The last of these once-common craft had ceased trading by the middle of the 20th century. Some very large schooners with five or more masts were built in the United States from circa 1880–1920. They mostly carried bulk cargoes such as coal and timber. In yachting, schooners predominated in the early years of the America's Cup. In more recent times, schooners have been used as sail training ships.
The type was further developed in British North America starting around 1713.In the 1700s and 1800s in what is now New England and Atlantic Canada schooners became popular for coastal trade, requiring a smaller crew for their size compared to then traditional ocean crossing square rig ships, and being fast and versatile. Three-masted schooners were introduced around 1800.
Schooners were popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1910, 45 five-masted and 10 six-masted schooners had been built in Bath, Maine and in towns on Penobscot Bay. The Thomas W. Lawson was the only seven-masted schooner built.
The rig is rarely found on a hull of less than 50 feet LOA, and small schooners are generally two-masted. In the two decades around 1900, larger multi-masted schooners were built in New England and on the Great Lakes with four, five, six, or even, seven masts. : 239–242 Schooners were traditionally gaff-rigged, and some schooners sailing today are reproductions of famous schooners of old, but modern vessels tend to be Bermuda rigged (or occasionally junk-rigged). While a sloop rig is simpler and cheaper, the schooner rig may be chosen on a larger boat so as to reduce the overall mast height and to keep each sail to a more manageable size, giving a mainsail that is easier to handle and to reef. An issue when planning a two-masted schooner's rig is how to fill the space between the masts: for instance, one may adopt (i) a gaff sail on the foremast (even with a Bermuda mainsail), or (ii) a main staysail, often with a fisherman topsail to fill the gap at the top in light airs.
Various types of schooners are defined by their rig configuration. Most have a bowsprit although some were built without one for crew safety, such as Adventure .
The following varieties were built:
Schooners were built primarily for cargo, passengers, and fishing.
The Norwegian polar schooner Fram was used by both Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen in their explorations of the poles.
Bluenose was both a successful fishing boat and a racer. America, eponym of America's Cup, was one of the few schooners ever designed for racing. This race was long dominated by schooners. Three-masted schooner Atlantic set the transatlantic sailing record for a monohull in the 1905 Kaiser's Cup race. The record remained unbroken for nearly 100 years.
A sloop is a sailboat with a single mast typically having only one headsail in front of the mast and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast. Such an arrangement is called a fore-and-aft rig, and can be rigged as a Bermuda rig with triangular sails fore and aft, or as a gaff-rig with triangular foresail(s) and a gaff rigged mainsail.
A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails and is smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.
A sailing vessel's rig is its arrangement of masts, sails and rigging. Examples include a schooner rig, cutter rig, junk rig, etc. A rig may be broadly categorized as "fore-and-aft", "square", or a combination of both. Within the fore-and-aft category there is a variety of triangular and quadrilateral sail shapes. Spars or battens may be used to help shape a given kind of sail. Each rig may be described with a sail plan—formally, a drawing of a vessel, viewed from the side.
A brigantine is a two-masted sailing vessel with a fully square-rigged foremast and at least two sails on the main mast: a square topsail and a gaff sail mainsail. The main mast is the second and taller of the two masts.
A brig is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: two masts which are both square-rigged. Brigs originated in the second half of the 18th century and were a common type of smaller merchant vessel or warship from then until the latter part of the 19th century. In commercial use, they were gradually replaced by fore-and-aft rigged vessels such as schooners, as owners sought to reduce crew costs by having rigs that could be handled by fewer men. In Royal Navy use, brigs were retained for training use when the battle fleets consisted almost entirely of iron-hulled steamships.
A jib is a triangular sail that sets ahead of the foremast of a sailing vessel. Its tack is fixed to the bowsprit, to the bows, or to the deck between the bowsprit and the foremost mast. Jibs and spinnakers are the two main types of headsails on a modern boat.
A topsail ("tops'l") is a sail set above another sail; on square-rigged vessels further sails may be set above topsails.
A mainsail is a sail rigged on the main mast of a sailing vessel.
A cutter is a name for various types of watercraft. It can apply to the rig of a sailing vessel, to a governmental enforcement agency vessel, to a type of ship's boat which can be used under sail or oars, or, historically, to a type of fast-sailing vessel introduced in the 18th century, some of which were used as small warships.
Gaff rig is a sailing rig in which the sail is four-cornered, fore-and-aft rigged, controlled at its peak and, usually, its entire head by a spar (pole) called the gaff. Because of the size and shape of the sail, a gaff rig will have running backstays rather than permanent backstays.
A lugger is a sailing vessel defined by its rig, using the lug sail on all of its one or more masts. Luggers were widely used as working craft, particularly off the coasts of France, England, Ireland and Scotland. Luggers varied extensively in size and design. Many were undecked, open boats, some of which operated from beach landings. Others were fully decked craft. Some larger examples might carry lug topsails.
A Bermuda rig, Bermudian rig, or Marconi rig is a configuration of mast and rigging for a type of sailboat and is the typical configuration for most modern sailboats. This configuration was developed in Bermuda in the 17th century; the term Marconi, a reference to the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, became associated with this configuration in the early 20th century, because the wires that stabilize the mast of a Bermuda rig reminded observers of the wires on early radio masts.
A full-rigged ship or fully rigged ship is a sailing vessel with a sail plan of three or more masts, all of them square-rigged. Such a vessel is said to have a ship rig or be ship-rigged, with each mast stepped in three segments: lower, top, and topgallant.
A Thames sailing barge is a type of commercial sailing boat once common on the River Thames in London. The flat-bottomed barges, with a shallow draught and leeboards, were perfectly adapted to the Thames Estuary, with its shallow waters and narrow tributary rivers. The larger barges were seaworthy vessels, and were the largest sailing vessel to be handled by just two men. The average size was about 120 tons and they carried 4,200 square feet (390 m2) of canvas sail in six working sails. The mainsail was loose-footed and set up with a sprit, and was brailed to the mast when not needed. It is sheeted to a horse, as is the foresail; they require no attention when tacking. The foresail is often held back by the mate to help the vessel come about more swiftly.
The spritsail is a four-sided, fore-and-aft sail that is supported at its highest points by the mast and a diagonally running spar known as the sprit. The foot of the sail can be stretched by a boom or held loose-footed just by its sheets. A spritsail has four corners: the throat, peak, clew, and tack. The Spritsail can also be used to describe a rig that uses a spritsail.
A foresail is one of a few different types of sail set on the foremost mast (foremast) of a sailing vessel:
Alexandria was a cargo-carrying three-masted schooner built in 1929. Originally named Yngve, she was built at Björkenäs, Sweden, and fitted with a 58 H.P. auxiliary oil engine.
Amazing Grace is an 83' topsail schooner. Its home port is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship serves as the platform for the non-profit Maritime Leadership and is also available for private charters and memorials at sea. Maritime Leadership provides traditional sail training adventures through sailings ranging from 3–48 hours.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sailing:
A sail plan is a drawing of a sailing craft, viewed from the side, depicting its sails, the spars that carry them and some of the rigging that supports the rig. By extension, "sail plan" describes the arrangement of sails on a craft. A sailing craft may be waterborne, an iceboat, or a sail-powered land vehicle.