A schooner ( /ˈskuːnər/) is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts.
Such vessels were first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century (but may not have been called that at the time - see etymology, below). The development of the schooner is connected with that of the Bermuda sloop. In Bermuda, countless vessels of otherwise identical description were built with between one and three masts, carrying Gaff or Bermuda rig. Although Bermudians generally describe all as sloops (see the Bermuda Sloop Foundation´s Spirit of Bermuda), purists elsewhere limit that term to single-masted vessels, those with more than one mast being historically described as Ballyhoo schooners. Schooners were further developed in North America from the early 18th century, and were more widely used in the United States than in any other country.
Two-masted schooners were and are most common. They were popular in trades that required speed and windward ability, such as slaving, privateering, and blockade running. They were also traditional fishing boats, used for offshore fishing. They were favoured as pilot vessels, both in North America and in Northern Europe. In the Chesapeake Bay area several distinctive schooner types evolved, including the Baltimore clipper and the pungy.
Famous quotes containing the word schooner:
“It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (18091882)