Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A schooner is a type of sailing ship characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. Schooners were first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century, and further developed in North America from the time of the American Revolution.
The schooner sail-plan has two or more masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear masts. Most of these schooners are gaff rigged . Alternatives include the topsail schooner with one or two square rigged topsails on the foremast, and the staysail schooner with staysails only on the foremast. There was no set maximum number of masts for a schooner. A small schooner has two or three masts, but they were built with as many as six or seven masts to carry a larger volume of cargo. The only seven-masted (steel hulled) schooner, the Thomas W. Lawson , was built in 1902, with a length of 395 ft (120 m) and carrying 25 sails with 43,000 ft² (4,000 m²) of sail. A schooner is quite maneuverable and can be sailed by a smaller crew than some other sailing vessels.
Schooners were frequently rigged with a schooner rig.
Schooners were used to carry cargo in many different environments, from ocean voyages, to coastal runs and on large inland bodies of water. They were popular in North America, and in their heyday of the late 1800s over 2000 schooners carried cargo back and forth across the Great Lakes. Three-masted "terns" were a favourite rig of Canada's Maritime Provinces. A two-masted schooner, the Bluenose, became greatly celebrated.
1, bowsprit, with martingale to the stem; 2, fore-topmast-stay, jib and stay-foresail; 3, fore-gaff-topsail; 4, foresail and mainstays; 5, main-gaff-topsail; 6, mainsail; 7, end of boom.
Technically speaking, a two-masted schooner is not a "ship" because it has fewer than three masts. In common parlance this distinction is rarely adhered to.
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