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?
Today, shipyards have a number of ways to get a ship out of water, either by hauling it out or by floating it into a basin and the water pumped out.
Historically though, sea captains would careen their vessels in shallow water by either heaving it over on its side while it was still afloat or by anchoring in shallow water at high tide and then waiting for the tide to go out. The vessel would touch bottom, and, as the tide went out, lay over on its side.
How does one go about getting a ship, especially a big ship, high and dry out of the water today?