Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sailing ship
For history of "sailing ship" see shipbuilding.
Sailing ship is now used to refer to any large, wind-powered, vessel. In technical terms, a ship was a sailing vessel with a specific rig of at least three masts, square rigged on all of them, making the sailing adjective redundant. In popular usage ship became associated with all large sailing vessels and when steam power came along the adjective became necessary. See also sailboat

There are many different types of sailing ships, but they all have certain basic things in common. Every sailing ship has a hull, rigging and at least one mast to hold up the sails that use the wind to power the ship. Ballast weighs down the bottom of the ship, so the wind does not push the ship over when sailing across the wind.
The crew who sail a ship are called sailors or hands. They take turns to take the watch, the active managers of the ship and her performance for a period. Watches are traditionally four or six hours long. Some sailing ships use traditional ship's bells to tell the time and regulate the watch system, with the bell being rung once for every half hour into the watch and rung eight times at watch end (a four-hour watch).
Ocean journeys by sailing ship can take many months, and a common hazard is becoming becalmed because of lack of wind, or being blown off course by severe storms or winds that do not allow progress in the desired direction. A severe storm could lead to shipwreck, and the loss of all hands.
Sailing ships can only carry a certain quantity of supplies in their hold, so they have to plan long voyages carefully to include many stops to take on provisions and, in the days before watermakers, fresh water.

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