Types of sailing ships

March 31, 2022

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Many thanks fades to Bruce T. Hall at hallb@jsc.mil for the following meanings and explanations of vessels. Bruce highlights that some of the brands of boats from the Olive Tree tend to be wrong, with all the ship kind given within the ship's name ... e.g., the snowfall "Molly" becomes the "Snow Molly", the packet "Pennsylvania" becomes the "Packet Pennsylvania", the pink "Dove" becomes the "Pink Dove", etc. The following list from Bruce defines most of the cruising ships that introduced our ancestors to America into the seventeenth and 18th centuries.

Many Thanks Bruce!


  • bark - a three-masted ship along with its two forward masts square-rigged, and its own rear mast fore-and-aft rigged.
  • brig - a two-masted ship with square-rigged sails.
  • brigantine - a two-masted ship, like a hermaphrodite brig (see), but with a square-rigged topsail in the mainmast.
  • clipper - a sharp-bowed, narrow-beamed cruising ship, designed for great rate.
  • cutter - a single-masted yacht or sailboat carrying two headsails under normal wind conditions.
  • hermaphrodite brig - a two-masted ship with a square-rigged foremast and a fore-and-aft-rigged mainmast.
  • ketch - a small, two-masted cruising vessel rigged fore-and-aft, with the mizzenmast significantly shorter versus mainmast and found forward associated with rudder-post. (equate to a yawl.)
  • less heavy - a big available barge made use of chiefly to load and unload vessels anchored in a harbor.
  • packet - a watercraft that moves a frequent course, as along a-coast or on a river, carrying passengers, freight, or mail.
  • pinnace - 1. a small cruising ship, often one used as a tender to a larger ship. 2. a ship's watercraft.
  • pink - a cruising vessel with a high, slim stern.
  • schooner - a ship, rigged fore-and-aft, with two or more masts,
  • sloop - a single-masted sailing vessel, fore-and-aft rigged, with a mainsail and a jib.
  • smack - a tiny sailboat, frequently rigged as a sloop, with a really for maintaining seafood alive.
  • snow - a square-rigged sailing ship that is different from a brig (see) in having a trysail mast close abaft of mainmast.
  • yawl - a small, two-masted sailing vessel, just like a ketch, however with the mizzenmast located aft for the rudder post. (equate to ketch.)
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Source: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com
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