Nelimastokuunari Salisbury

Types of sailing ship: what are brig, fullrigger and schooner?

We introduce you to the main types used in the golden era of sailing ships built in Rauma, at the shift of the 19th and the 20th century. There have been other ship types over the years, and there are many variants of the types introduced here. In different times and places, diverse names have been in use. To confuse you further, names that sound similar in different languages can mean different things. For example, the English word frigate means a fast and lightly armed vessel for naval warfare, unlike the Finnish word fregatti meaning fullrigger.

There are no unambiguous, definite names for various sailing ship types. If four sailors had been asked to name the ship types depicted in this article a century ago, the result would probably have included four different answers.

A barque is a vessel with three or more masts: gaff sails on the aftermast, square sails on all others. A square sail is a sail slung transversely to the ship’s travel. A gaff sail is a sail slung longitudinally to the ship’s travel. A barque is faster than a schooner but requires a larger crew. On the other hand, a barque works with a smaller crew than a fullrigger and is less toilsome to manoeuvre. Most large ocean ships in the late 19th and early 20th century were barques, because of the size of the crew.