Ancient Sailing Ships

I am always excited when the subject of Ancient Sailing Ships comes to mind. And why shouldn't I, or anybody for that matter, be? Without these historical vessels, we wouldn't be where we are today would we?

Neither you nor I would be able to enjoy the adrenaline-filled sport/hobby we all love so well known as sailing today!

Okay, whenever the word “ancient” is mentioned, I tend to get flashes of pirates, of how lands are discovered, trade routes opened and all that.

Regardless of its purpose, what excites me is how these people managed to make such long distance and revolutionary sails with the technology back then. Let's take a closer look at the different kinds of ancient sailing ships that were around.

The ancient Vikings were known to have used merchant ships known as the knarr. It was used to transport everything from goods such as ivories, fur, armor, weapon, honey and wheat to slaves.

In addition, the Vikings were also known to have used these knarrs to colonize countries such as Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland. They were also believed to be the same vessels used by early European colonists to make their journeys to North America.

In the West, it is often stereotyped as the “Chinese Junk”. Personally, I don't agree with this term mainly because the translation from its original Chinese characters would literally mean “a large ship sailing the lakes or rivers” and pronounced as Jung-Gorl or just “Gorl” for short.

Anyway, it was invented as early as the 200 A.D and contained multi-masts. Zhang He, a world-renowned Chinese explorer, made 7 journeys to the western world from 1405 to 1433 and was at least 87 years before Christopher Columbus' first journey to America in 1492.

Still, this issue is very much debatable even till today. Nowadays, “Chinese Junks” may still be seen in certain parts of rivers in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In addition to the above two examples, I would also like to include those such as The Carrack, The Caravel, The Pinnace, The Xebec, Sloop, The English Galleon and The Spanish Galleon to name but a few.

Although they tend to be featured in different eras, I would still consider them to be very much ancient in terms of its contribution to the history of sailing. Each of these different vessels had distinctive characteristics. In other words, they had different purposes, used in different parts of the world, different in design and construction and much more.

In terms of their technology, most of the earlier sailing ships tend to use the square rigs.

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all tended to use the square sail. They were regarded to provide stability for large vessels as well as heavy seas. Subsequently, these square rigs were attached fore and aft and was tilted at the fore in order to produce a balance-lug.

Later, the Arabs invented the Triangular Rigs or also known as the lateen rigs which offered better control on narrow and shallow waters. It was the basis to the full lateen sail employed later on.

Writing about the ancient sailing ships certainly proved to be a time travel for me personally. So much has changed since then but the spirit of sailing from the ancient times will continue to soar in the future!

Return from Ancient Sailing Ships to Old Sailing Ships
Return from Ancient Sailing Ships to Started Sailing

Find Started Sailing on Facebook
Follow Started Sailing on Twitter

Smooth Sailing
Sailing Games
Sailing Photos

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer
Copyright EMAR Publishers © 2009-2011