Started Sailing

Exotic sailing ships: felucca, dhow and junk.

by Han
(Brittany, France.)

The ancient exotic ships sailing past in this article all have had, in one way or another, a strong influence on north-western European shipbuilding and sailing technics in the 15th century and later.

First the felucca and the dhow, strongly related and both originating from the Arab countries. The felucca, used on inland- and coastal waters such as the Nile and the eastern Mediterranean, is the smaller relative of the dhow, sailing the Indian Ocean as far as south-Africa and Indonesia. Their hulls are not particularly interesting, but their rigs, one- or two-masted latin rigs, were the example for the development of the modern fore-and-aft rigs. The latin rig is very well suited for sailing windward, but because it takes a lot of man-power to tack, it is mostly used on fixed courses.
Read more about them on and

The junk is an interesting ship for the hull as well as the rig. It sailed the Pacific and Indian Oceans and, according to old reports, even the southern Atlantic Ocean.
The hull is compartmented, a feat only much later adopted by western shipbuilders. It is flat-bottomed and shallow-draught and used side- or lee-boards which, some historians think, were the inspiration for their use on Dutch and English ships. There are some indications for the very early use of a stern-rudder, but this is far from certain.
But what strikes the eye is it's characteristic rig. The best description is given by wikipedia in this article:, so I better keep my big mouth shut. The junk as such is described here:

Videos of dhow and junk are also to be seen on SailTube on this site.

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