Ever wonder about those hundreds of thousands of ships that sail across the ocean bodies years after years and carry passengers, goods, and arms of all sizes without a pause? Did you know that the 18th century saw the golden period of the ocean liners? Yes, it’s true. However, if you are planning to wreck into the marine sector any time soon for a bright career or just get conversant with the types of sailing vessels, it’s worth a look inside.
So, let’s waffle, no more and take a quick look at the fifteen most different types of sailing ships, categorized according to the job they render.
What are the fifteen different types of Sailing Ships:
Remember, no two ships are the same. What’s more, working with any of them will fetch you a different kind of experience. This is mainly because each ship comes with a different shape, size, mast and different safety regulations. In fact, each one is engineered to serve a specific purpose. For example, the lengthy the vessel is, the faster it can cruise. While some ships are meant to cruise a long distance, the others would just travel along the shoreline.
So, here is the cream of the crop of the most famous sailing ships of all times for your knowledge…
With fore and aft rigged sails on two or more masts equally tall, the schooner is a type of vessel that is efficient to sail even in the most adverse winds. The original 19th-century schooner was gaff rigged and the most common ones came with two or three masts with foremast comparatively smaller than the others. Some even carried seven masts, and interchangeable gear and sails, namely the “Thomas W Lawson”.
Today’s modern, forward and backward schooners pack quite a new punch and come decked with the Bermuda rigged sails. They are still deployed in the Pacific trade as the most economic coast liners.
2. Clipper Ship:
Inspired from a category of the schooner, the middle end of the 19th-century had clippers scaling the globe. These vessels soon gained the eyes as the best trader ship on long runs. These fast sailing merchant ships, mainly British and American, came in a variety of shape and size and were built with a narrow length, protruding stem, square rig and 3 to 5 masts.
These marine going crafts were mainly used to carry limited bulk freights on the long trading routes of California, China. They sailed almost all over the world in the quickest possible time and brought gold and tea to Great Britain. They were also popular for speed racing.
Originally a sailing war vessel, a brig had a berthing deck with sleeping quarters for its marine officials and cabin crew, sail bin, storage rooms, wood-paneled stove area, carronades, and guns. Usually, these sailing crafts have two masts each of which carries square sails and sometimes an aftmost spanker.
These squared-rigged ships could only be maneuvered by a larger crew and were used mainly in the harbor area with no tugs, especially to gain access in the most restricted zones. They could carry cargo over large ocean bodies by easily following the wind directions.
Snow is another popular brig that carries a square-shaped mainsail and sometimes a spanker on a masted trysail.
4. Full-Rigged Ship:
Known as “Ship”, these 18th-19th-century sailing vessels came fully nautical-rigged with square-shaped three or more masts each carrying square sails. Because of their fully rigged structure, these ocean crafts needed a larger crew. But later in the 19th century, their construction underwent remodeling to downsize the number of sailors on board, simplify handling and maneuver the sail area to cope with varying wind forces and monsoon weather extremities.
However, in modern days, these ships also called the frigate that means a full-rigged ship, are more commonly used for intercontinental trade trips. They have a ship-rig and contain hulls, mast and yards, each made of iron or steel. They are completely different in terms of their functionalities and sail plan from the other types of sailing ships.
Almost the same as Brigs, these types of sailing ships with both the top-gallant sails and royals were majorly used for scouting and reconnoitering voyages for tracking down enemies by the marine commandos. They were commonly found sailing across the trade route of Northern European, Baltic water bodies with veering winds, all the way from Scandinavia to Germany.
Usually, these middle-sized vessels come with two sails on the mainmast with a simpler but fully squared rig (foremost mast containing the square sails and mainmast containing the fore-and-aft mainsail) and accommodate a much smaller crew. However, the modern American Barquentine vessels feature square sails without the main mast.
Also known as the schooner barque/schooner bark/barkentine, these sailing crafts feature a simplified rig and no heavy crew. Vessels of this type usually come equipped with a minimum of three masts. With square sails on the forward and backward rigged fore topmast and gaff sails on the other, these moderately sized sailing crafts range typically between 250 to 500 tons.
More often than not, these Barquentines were found sailing in the water of Northern Europe where variable winds are predominant. Their usefulness is proven in the areas of the lumber trade following the merchant route from Scandinavia, Germany to England and the Baltic zones.
A Carrack is a three or four-masted and nautical-rigged with square sails European sailing ship, largest of its kind, Developed around 13th to 15th Century the Spanish Carrack weighed more than 1000 tons. During the mid-16th century, this giant ocean navigator became popular as the most standard vessel for European trade along the coast of the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Baltic.
But the strangely high temples in bow and stern, especially the large forecastle, made sailing close to the wind extremely difficult. So experiments soon started to evolve the structure of this vessel and what came was a vessel with an eliminated castle with a high stern but comparatively low bow. And this design ruled for all king sized watercraft till the late 18th century.
However, in its modern version, the Carrack’s foremast and mainmast were square-rigged and the mizzen mast was latten-rigged. Its stern was more rounded and the stem had a huge aftcastle, forecastle, and bowsprit. In short, it looked more like a carvel-built craft that was ready to coast along a long distance voyage, stay steady in the heavy tides and stock large freight.
With an instrumental ship design, these types of sailing ships were also called the “great ships” by the English army.
A contemporary of the Carrack, these eighteenth-century merchandise vessels came in a bulk size of as much as 400 tons, rounded bow and stern with a much simpler architecture than its square-rigged counterparts. Also, the term “hulk” denoted to various states of a ship that is deemed either unprofitable to operate, outdated or ripped off its functionalities to sail over a large ocean body.
There were myriads of instances where wooden hulls were deliberately converted to hulks to reduce the stress of sailing on their age-old layouts.
However, the hulk fleet comprising mostly of an array of abandoned ships still continued to cruise across the Mediterranean sea for rendering services like transport, cargo storage, prison, gambling and others as regular sailing vessels.
9. Bark (Barque):
With a capacity of 250-700 ton, these tall sized ships are the second largest of their kind. They carried four masts and came adorned with square sails on the fore topmast and forward and backward sails on the after mast. Most commonly found in the trans-oceanic ventures, these crafts were the best example of commercial sailors that could carry an insane amount of cargo along Australia, Europe, Guano, Nitrate and South American west coast.
Did you know the oldest sailing ship in the world was a bark? Not only that, these types of sailing ships went very popular till the commencement of World War II. Some reformations like steam-dust winches allowed to reduce the crew size on board.
Also known as “dandy”, these two masts equipped and fore-and-aft rigged ocean-going ships come with a tinier jiggermast where the mizzen mast is carefully furnished towards the rudder post of the vessel. Here, the mizzen sail of a yawl is purposefully designed smaller to help the mast in trimming and balancing the craft on the sea, while the mainsail remains comparably larger sized almost that of a sloop.
In the Dutch word, these vessels are also known as “Jol”.
Almost similar to a yawl, this type of two-masted watercraft came furnished forward and backward. The only exception, in this case, was the mizzen mast that is placed at the taller mainmast but ahead of the rudderpost. Here, the main purpose of the mizzen mast is to help drive the marine craft.
More often than not, these types of sailing ships are rigged to carry square sails and size between 100 to 250 tonson an average estimate. The most unique feature about these vessels is that they were often deployed as the bombard vessel by the navy army.
Also known as Zebec, these kinds of sailing ships came with plenty of features, including elongated narrow hulls, beakheads with a long prow, enormous sized lateen yards, three lateen-pillared masts and one aft-set mizzen mast (both raked forward) with a single triangle shaped sail on each of them. These watercraft derived their names from the Arabic word for “small ship”.
Owing their origin to the legendary galleys and equipped with oars much like their predecessors, these small marine vessels had the most agile architecture that was soon recognized by the European navy army. These ships became the mainstream Mediterranean squadrons, commercial cruisers, and anti-piracy raiders in no time. In fact, a single Xebec could load up to 36 guns on its deck-top.
Also spelled as “chebec”, these 16th to 19th-century high-speed vessels were easy maneuverable no matter propelled under sail or the oars. The main advantage of these ships was their shallow draft and the lateen rig that offered a closer pinch to the wind with a quick capacity to flee or hook around.
However, soon some innovations gave ways for some more variations in these types of sailing ships and the original Xebec with a square rig on its main mast and the mizzen mast was replaced with the Polacre-Xebec.
But these delicate vessels with a lightly-built were only suitable for low ship loading and light-sea cruising. They were proven incompetent for open-ocean sailing and it was mainly due to their shallow draught and low freeboard each of which made them a poor choice for wave fluctuations and rough climate. All these limited characteristics of Xebec made them only ideal for swift coast lining.
Three-masted and square-rigged, Fluyt is a 16th to 17th-century Dutch merchant sailing ship that came lightly fortified and comprised of an extended box-styled framework and a very small-width stern. Also popular as Fluit or Fleut, these dedicated cargo vessels were developed to double their efficiency by minimizing the crew and maximizing the space.
Specialized tools were used to a much cheaper deal to construct these ocean-going craft. The purpose was to decrease transoceanic shipping costs and facilitate economic freight management with the highest possible ship loading in a vessel that accommodated the smallest sized marine crew.
An 18th-century naval cruise ship, a cutter is a single or double mast, gaff-rigged with one bowsprit, two or more headsails and decked sailcraft. Designed for speed, this small to medium sized craft was historically a work vessel used by the harbor navigators, authorized government personnel, and the soldiery.
The modern-day fore-and-aft rigged cutters are rugged looking tiny vessels which vary according to their functions and purpose of usage. They are either like yachts or the ferrying passenger crafts that can sail across larger ocean bodies. The cutter with an open oaring concept still remains a staple essence of the English club racing.
Last but not least, these types of sailing ships of a giant size came into the scene in the nineteenth and early twentieth century for bulk freight sailing. These square-rigged ocean cruisers with three to five extensive masts came equipped with cost-effective and extended iron (sometimes still) hulls that occupied less space and enabled better cargo capacity.
These general class merchant vessels were the largest of their kinds and were carefully constructed to carry tons of cargo, including lumber, grain, guano through a circumnavigation of the continents. However, the increasing fuel costs and environmental awareness soon replaced these crafts for the more modernized cargo vessels that relied on wind energy.
In a nutshell, when you want to know about the types of sailing vessels that made a little history, the sky is the limit. The fun fact is each of the ships mentioned here, is either the prototype of today’s robust ocean liners or still continues to cruise on their sail map of pride as they did eons back.