Ships Rigs: Schooner

I wrote an earlier post about how sailing ships are rigged. I figured I would start with the biggest and most unusual to see today, and work my way down to the more common types you’ll see around you every day.

So the first post was about a ‘ship’ rig. Today’s post will be about a ‘schooner’ rig. I mentioned before that sailing ships rigs are first classified by how the sails are set. Either fore-and-aft or square rigged. A ‘ship’ is set with square rigged sails, a ‘schooner’ is set with fore-and-aft rigged sails.

I saw a nice one in the news the other day. The Juan Sebastian de Elcano was in Pensacola a couple of weeks ago and was open for tours by the locals. She’s in Charleston now. Check it out if you can. Here’s a picture of her. She’s a real beauty!


She’s got 4 masts, all rigged fore-and-aft and also square rigged on the foremast. So technically, she’s a brig-schooner. Or she could be called a topsail schooner. Whatever you call her, she’s a beautiful ship and I imagine must be a dream to sail on. 🙂

She’s very similar to the Ariadne. The ship I was privileged to sail on during my younger days. The difference is that the Ariadne was a little smaller, only had 3 masts and didn’t have the square sails. I actually got to go to high school aboard the Ariadne and the brigantine Phoenix! I was SO lucky! That experience definitely changed my life for the better. Here’s a picture of her.

The Ariadne was a true schooner. She had 3 masts, all fore-and-aft rigged. The Juan Sebastian de Elcano is a brig-schooner which means she has square sails on her fore mast. There are all kinds of variations to the main 2 types of sail plans (fore-and-aft or square rigged). There are ships, schooner, brigs, brigantines, barques, barquentines, in the larger class of vessels and then a few more in the smaller class. I’ll write more about them later. 🙂