The  discoveries ships

The working ships
Full-rigged ship
Three-masted schooner
Three-masted barque
Four-masted barque

The rigging
fore-and-aft sails
Bermuda rigg




The different ships types

The flute is the main Dutch merchant ship at the 17th century, rigged with two masts each one with two square sails, a mizzen mast with a triangular sail and a bowsprit.


The caraque (or nao or nef) comes from the cog appeared around 1200 in Scandinavia: the single mast is replaced by a 3 masts rigging.




At the 17th century the galleon becomes progressively a vessel. With her little sister, the frigate, she will equip the naval forces during more than two centuries. The forecastle and aft castle finish to disappear at the 18th century on hulls nearly horizontal and lengthened.

The gabare (or lighter) is a servitude ship, armed at the 14th century and later rigged with three masts.



Cutter and sloop are both single mast vessels. At the difference with the sloop, the cutter carries a surface of sail divided to before (at least 2 sails of before). The boom located in bottom of the mast supports the mainsail; the jib and the fore-topmast staysail are in front of the mast. The large sail can be a brigantine or a sail of Marconi; the traditional cutter displays moreover one main royal and a second jib. A sloop (from Holland sloep) is a fore-and-aft rigged boat with a single headsail and a simple mast further towards than the cutter.
IAAC (International Americas Cup Class) yachts in America's cup, forward to 1992, are sloops.

The cutter BRITANNIA racing with the schooner WEDSTWARD

The cutter St MICHEL II of the famous writer Jules Verne

The ketch is a cutter rigging two jibs where the mizzen mast is implemented forward the helmsman's place. This ship, very similar to the dundee, rigs a large sail with a gaff surmounted of a gaff topsail and an identical mizzen sail.
The dundee is a fishing ship, of 50 to 60 tons and with 5 or 6 crew ; two large setting booms are rigged on each side of the main mast.

The lugger was a three-masted vessel originated in France during the 18th century; then, a two-masted version evolved.

The corvette is a small war ship with three masts, equipped of about ten guns at the 18th century.

The aviso (advice vessel) is a small tonnage ship in charge of carrying announcements, orders.

The schooner is a fishing vessel  used from the 18th to the 20th century for the coastal traffic and fishing; its main advantage comes from her rig requiring a crew reduced compared to square rigs. Many alternatives exist with Bermudian sails (triangular) or fore-and-aft (trapezoidal). 
AMERICA is with BLUENOSE a typical example of a schooner where the mainsail is backward when the foremast is rigged with a gaff sail, trapezoidal ; gaff topsails are rigged above the foresail and the mainsail.

Fishing schooner 

Custom schooner 

CAPITAN MIRANDA is an example of staysail schooner

Topsail schooner 

hunier2.jpg (11957 octets)
ETOILE and BELLE-POULE are topsail schooners: at the difference of the schooner, the gaff topsail on the foremast is replaced by one or two topsails, a squared sail rigged above the lower sails.
The brig  is a square rigged two-masts, a main mast and a mizzen mast. The principal yard of the mainmast called boom carries the sail called brigantine, to which the ship owes its name. The two masts can be provided with tops. One distinguishes the schooner from the brig: first is rigged with fore-and-aft sails, while the second has square sails, rigged on yards, as well as a brigantine on the aft mast.
Brig and brigantine differ by their aft rig: first is rigged with square sails on both masts while the second has square and fore-and-aft sails.

The full-rigged ship (in French "trois-mâts carré") is rigged with square sails on all three masts

The three-masted barque (in French "trois-mâts barque") has two square rigging, on the foremast and on the main mast, when the mizzen mast is rigged with a spanker on a gaff and a gaff topsail.

The three-masted schooner (in French "trois-mâts goélette") has a square rigging on the foremast when the main mast and the mizzen mast are rigged with a spanker on a gaff and a gaff topsail.

SPIRIT of BERMUDA : schooner with 3 Bermudians masts 

GROSSHERZOGIN ELISABETH : schooner with 3 masts 

Three-masted ship schooner should not be confused with a schooner with three masts whose three masts carry an identical rigging (Bermudian or fore-and-aft)

The four-masted barque differs of the three-masted barque by a second main mast square rigged.
On the barquentine (four masted schooner) only the foremast has a square rigging  when the other masts are rigged with a spanker on a gaff and a gaff topsail.

The five-masted barque is square rigged on four masts and the mizzen mast is rigged with a spanker on a gaff and a gaff topsail.

The five-masted fullrigged ship (only Preussen is recorded) is square rigged on five masts 

livarde.jpg (105466 octets)


Spritsail rigged small boat, equipped with a gaff topsail above the mainsail.

Stamps in booklet for domestic letters of less than 20 grams


Chebec or chebek, Mediterranean boat, used from 1750 to 1820, is rigged with lateen sails on her 3 masts.
Lugsails (the sail where the halyards are made fast at the third of the yard), gaff sails (trapezoidal sails), spritsails (quadrangular sail fitted diagonally on a yard) are fore-and-aft sails.

The Bermuda rig is the typical rig of sloops: a large triangular sail ; it is also the rig of America's cup J class 

The bisquine LA GRANDVILLAISE is a French fishing ship replica from Normandy rigged bisquine


Back home


inscrit au Hit-Parade de

Click below for the pages list 


Update on 27 July 2003
Update on 14 April 2008
Update on 12 August 2009