Schooner

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A schooner (pronounced /ˈskuːnər/) is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts. Schooners were first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century, and further developed in North America from the early 18th century.

Contents

Etymology

According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the first vessel called a schooner was built by builder Andrew Robinson and launched in 1713 from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Legend has it that the name was the result of a spectator exclaiming "Oh how she scoons", scoon being similar to scon, a Scots word meaning to skip along the surface of the water.[1][2] Robinson replied, "A schooner let her be."[3] According to Walter William Skeat, the term schooner comes from scoon, while the sch spelling comes from the later adoption of the Dutch and German spellings ("Schoner").

Other sources state the etymology as unknown[4] and uncertain[5].

Construction

The schooner sail-plan has two or more masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear masts. Most traditionally rigged schooners are gaff rigged, sometimes carrying a square topsail on the foremast and, occasionally, a square fore-course (together with the gaff foresail). Schooners carrying square sails are called square-topsail schooners.

A staysail schooner has no foresail, but instead carries a main staysail between the masts in addition to the fore staysail ahead of the foremast. A staysail or gaff topsail schooner may carry a fisherman's staysail (a four-sided fore-and-aft sail) above the main staysail or foresail, or a triangular mule. Multi-masted staysail schooners usually carried a mule above each stay sail except the fore staysail. Gaff-rigged schooners generally carry a triangular fore-and-aft topsail above the gaff sail on the main topmast and sometimes also on the fore topmast (see illustration), called a gaff-topsail schooner. A gaff-rigged schooner that is not set up to carry one or more gaff topsails is sometimes termed a "bare-headed" or "bald-headed" schooner. A schooner with no bowsprit is known as a "knockabout" schooner. A "cat-rigged" schooner not only has no bowsprit but has no headsails, and has the foremast set as far forward as possible.[6]

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