What is a “tall ship” anyway? How tall does a ship have to be?
A tall ship is not actually any specific kind of vessel, but the term usually refers to large traditionally rigged sailing ships.
Sailing vessels are identified by their rigs: brigs, barques, and schooners are a few examples. The number of masts and how they are arranged, plus the use of fore-and-aft sails or square sails—or combinations of both—determine how a ship is identified.
A “ship” is both a generic term that refers to any large watercraft, and a highly specific term identifying a vessel with three or more masts that sets square sails on all masts. These models of basic rig types below will help you learn to identify the different types of ships that will visit the United States this summer.
This summer, tall ships from all over the world will be visiting the United States. Check out OpSail (www.opsail.org) and Tall Ships America (www.sailtraining.org) events, from New Orleans, up the East Coast, to the Great Lakes and Canada.
You and your family can go onboard most visiting ships for a tour in port, and, if you are really ambitious, you can even go sailing as a trainee aboard one for a day, a week, or even longer. You don’t have to know how to sail; you just have to be willing and able.
To learn more about what kinds of ships and programs are available, visit the Tall Ships America website.
Did You Know?
The Age of Sail was said to be the domain of “wooden ships and iron men,” but sailing ships also had boys on their official crew lists.
Today, you have to be 14 years old before you can get a job in most states in the US, but in the Age of Sail both merchant ships and navy vessels signed on boys as young as seven years old as regular members of the crew.
What were these kids doing on board sailing ships?