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The Backward OX
09-08-2010, 02:08 PM
My WIP will include a number of 19th Century ocean voyages, under sail.

Iíve learnt a lot with Google but thereíre still some unknowns I canít find.

(I understand perfectly how the sails are set for tacking on a single-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged yacht, but Iím not writing about a single-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged yacht.)

What I do need to know, but donít understand, is the manner in which the sails on a square-rigged vessel are set for sailing upwind or crosswind. The pictures and text Iíve found online donít help. Downwind, no problem. The sails just sit there and fill with wind. Sort of. Itís the other two that have me worried. I can see how a fore-and-aft sail is swung from side to side depending on the wind, but can't see (figure out) what is done with square-rigged sails.

Thank you for any help you can give.

dpaterso
09-08-2010, 02:25 PM
'Tis my understanding, purely through talking to nautical types, that square sails would have to be lowered and tied, since they can't be angled, and the jib (front triangular sheet) would be pulled to port or starboard so the wind blowing across it produces drag that pulls the ship forward, while the tiller is turned in the opposite direction from the jib to increase the effect.

Then again it's been a while since I heard the explanation, which was actually hard to believe at the time.

Added: the conversations took place here! I could be in the audience pics!
http://www.tallshipsracesgreenock.com/tall-ships-greenock-1999.html

-Derek

The Backward OX
09-08-2010, 02:50 PM
That sounds quite plausible. In the absence of something more detailed coming along, I could play around with that. It's only a story. Thanks.

thothguard51
09-08-2010, 05:12 PM
The main mast spars are capable of angling slightly as they are not fixed, but not as drastically as the forward jib sails. Also, some ships had a aft jib as well. It really depends on the ship style.

The thing is, the crew is constantly looking for changes and react to these changes in wind and current. They watch clouds and waves, and even the birds following them.

Sometimes, there is no wind and the ship will ride the current. Sometimes, the ship just had to wait it out until it caught a breeze and then they would go with the breeze, even if in the wrong direction, until they could swing back around.

In storms, one of the problems is waves of course, but also the wind comes at the ships from different directions. The sails have to be furled and stowed or be ripped apart or drive the ship over...

pdr
09-09-2010, 02:51 PM
you pop down to genres Historical you will find a stickie at the top of the board called Resources by Era.

It's a huge resource now so trawl carefully down to the title sailing Ships and you will find urls and books, some of which have all the info you need.

Stanmiller
09-09-2010, 03:14 PM
Square riggers can't sail as close to the wind as a fore-and-aft rig, but they can go pretty well up to about 70 degrees off the wind. See this link for a diagram.

http://sailing-ships.oktett.net/square-rigging.html

The Backward OX
09-09-2010, 03:23 PM
you pop down to genres Historical you will find a stickie at the top of the board called Resources by Era.

It's a huge resource now so trawl carefully down to the title sailing Ships and you will find urls and books, some of which have all the info you need.
Thank you. I've had a quick look. Many of the URLs are no longer available. On the ones that were, I wasn't able to find detail. Perhaps one of the forums linked there might be of some use, but it seemed a bit ancient in its procedures.

The Backward OX
09-09-2010, 03:37 PM
Square riggers can't sail as close to the wind as a fore-and-aft rig, but they can go pretty well up to about 70 degrees off the wind. See this link for a diagram.

http://sailing-ships.oktett.net/square-rigging.html

This is looking good. Thanks. The thing I'm still wanting to pin down is whether square rigging is (was?) adjusted on a moment-by-moment basis, as is fore-and-aft rigging. I'm beginning to think not. Okay, moment-by-moment might be a bit of a stretch, but what I mean is, can square-rigged sails be set, or trimmed, or whatever the term is, according to changes in wind? As far as I know, diagrams always show wind from one direction only.

Clearly I'm no sailor.

Stanmiller
09-09-2010, 09:55 PM
Absolutely they can be trimmed for variations in wind. Sailing ships were amazingly complex machines. The yards can be angled, plus cocked (one end higher than the other), plus the sails can be furled.

Clipper ships had big crews to work the sails constantly because fast passages meant more profits for the owners. Many shipmasters were known to be hard drivers, carrying lots of sail even in Cape Horn conditions.

pdr
09-10-2010, 08:48 AM
Thank you for the comment re urls not working. I've remove the two dead ones and corrected two to the home page.