Started Sailing

How and Where did sailing start

by James

I was just wondering where and around when did sailing start. Also how and why? If the question is too broad I understand. Also if there is any literature that is on this topic I would need to read it, because it is for a school paper.

Thank you,

Comments for How and Where did sailing start

Click here to add your own comments

Sep 22, 2010
Hi James!
by: Han

This is a very interesting question, did you think it up by yourself?
Could you please answer some of my questions, like: how much time do you have to finish your paper, and how old are you? I need those answers to decide how I should formulate my answers to your question. Can you give them today, if possible? I promise you to be as fast as I can if needed.
Hope till soon,



Sep 25, 2010
Where, when and why?
by: Han

Because James' question(s) touches one of the greater history-questions: "why, where and when started human technological development?", which rises above mere history of sailing and should be interesting for more people than James alone, I'll try to find a comprehensive answer.

Proper sailing, as being propelled by wind, is only possible with a hull stable enough to resist the pressure of the wind. Follows how I think people made that hull. There are no written records, so I've got to make an educated guess.

Imagine yourself as part of a tribe of nomadic hunters-gatherers, far back in history, before the start of agriculture and stock-farming. You live in semi-permanent huts or primitive tents. Food is provided by searching for edible products of the forest and by hunting and fishing with clubs and spears.
This way of fishing can only be done in shallow water, and where the riverbanks are steep you'll have to find ways to fish in deeper water.
Swimming won't do because you're much too slow and noisy.

You try to paddle astride a tree-trunk, V-shaped at both ends by the only tools available, stone axes and chisels. But staying upright is a problem, and your feet in the water impede your speed.
Next development is to dig out the trunk, again by axe, and you find that fire helps too. You invent the paddle to replace your hands and now you have a canoe; still heavy and cumbersome, but silent and a little bit faster with three or four people aboard, and you catch more and bigger fish. You can hunt now at the other side of the river too.

The use of fire reveals another quality of the wood: it softens and becomes pliable when heated. So you make your canoe thinner in the bottom and the sides and bend it out when it's hot by the use of props and struts until it has cooled down. Now your canoe is lighter, wider and more stable than ever before, but to sail it you need the sides of your hull to be higher above the water-line (= free-board).

These developments have taken a lot of time, nobody knows how much; but it took many centuries to get this far, only by trial and error.

The next step is the discovery of how to split wood in order to get planks; the saw was still far into the future. But you need planks to make your free-board higher, you have to invent a way to fix the planks to the sides of your canoe, as well as ways to twine vegetable fibre to get thread; to use thread to make rope for your rig and to weave it so you can make fabric for your sails. Again, centuries to go.

No one can give an exact date and place for these developments, nor an exact answer to the question "why?". But this history takes place in Europe, between the end of the Stone Age and 1500 years ago; in other places a different time-scale has to be used. The reason for all historic developments is need: for food in this case. And the birth of sailing, the efficient use of the wind, took place between 500 BC and 500 AD.

Apr 16, 2015
Best help for students NEW
by: Lorraine Z. Darnell

Thanks a lot again for a lot of things.
Good work

Apr 21, 2015
great comments NEW
by: Zack

There are many types of institutes which deal in education. The number of educational institutes is large. We have education about large number of writings. And we help you at large number in your witting. To write impressive documents just get best dissertation writing service only provided by our website.

Sep 02, 2015
sailing NEW
by: Jessica summers

I think this is one of the most vital information for me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The web site style is ideal, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

Oct 27, 2015
Nice NEW
by: Dennis

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to History of Sailboats.

Random Tip of the Day:

Find Started Sailing on Facebook
Follow Started Sailing on Twitter

Smooth Sailing
Sailing Games
Sailing Photos

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer
Copyright EMAR Publishers © 2009-2011