Saturday, May 31, 2008

Schooner Rig - Fore and Aft Rig

Sloop - a small vessel with one mast and a fore and aft rig. The mainsail is attached to a gaff at the head and a boom at the foot and above it a gaff topsail can be set. Before the mast are one or more jibs.
Schooner - is a vessel with two or more fore-and-aft rigged masts. The fore- and mainsails are suspended from gaffs and laced to booms on the foot of the sails. The first schooners had two masts, but the most popular had three. In modern times the number of masts has increased.

A variety of Two Masted Schooners

Square Topsail Schooner -
is a two-masted vessel, the mainmast of which has a fore-and-aft mainsail and gaff topsail identical to those of an ordinary schooner. Both masts are made in two spars, but the lower foremast is a little shorter than the corresponding spar of the mainmast, and the topmast is a little longer. Three Masted Schooner Four Masted Schooner

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rigging Basics

A Ship's rigging refers to the sails and masts she carries. This determines how the ship is classified.

Basic Terms
Spars -The rigid members which carry the sail of a vessel .
Masts - Vertical spars.
Yards - Horizontal spars which cross the masts.

Boom - A horizontal spar which is anchored on one end and extends the foot of a sail.
Gaff - A horizontal spar ( usually angled ) which supports to top of a sail.

Fore and Aft Rig - where the sails lie along the same plane as the ship's fore and aft line.
Square Rig - where the sails are rigged athwart (across) the ship.
Lug Rig - Similar in arrangement to a square rig, except that the supporting spar is asymmetrically arranged on the mast, with a greater length behind than in front
Junk Rig -
developed in the far-east. It is distinguished from other lug sails by the use of full-length battens which support the sail and give it an efficient performance at most points of sail.
Gaff Rig -
The sail is set entirely behind the mast, supported above by a spar which extends upwards and backwards from the mast. There may or may not be another spar at the foot of the sail. This rig is effective at most points of sail.
Bermudan Rig -
This is a triangular sail set behind the mast and often supported by a boom along its foot. The mast may be tilted backwards slightly to improve the rig's performance in stronger winds. The sail behind the mast is often supplemented by one or more sails attached to the forestays of the mast, such as a jib.

The most common are Fore and Aft Rig and Square Rig.

A ship's masts are named from bow to stern (front to back):

Fore-mast - the first mast, or the mast fore of the main-mast.
Sections: Fore-mast lower — Fore topmast — Fore topgallant mast

Main-mast - the tallest mast, usually located near the center of the ship.
Sections: Main-mast lower — Main topmast — Main topgallant mast — royal mast (if fitted)

Mizzen-mast - the third mast, or the mast immediately aft of the main-mast. Typically shorter than the fore-mast.
Sections: Mizzen-mast lower — Mizzen topmast — Mizzen topgallant mast

Bonaventure mizzen - the fourth mast on larger Sixteenth Century galleons, typically lateen-rigged and shorter than the main mizzen.

Jigger-mast - the fourth mast or the aft-most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.
Sections: Jigger-mast lower — Jigger topmast — Jigger topgallant mast

Mast names for other vessels generally follow this naming.

Sail Diagram

1. Fore mast
2. Main mast
3. Mizzen mast
4. Flying jib
5. Outer jib
6. Inner jib
7. Fore topmast staysail
8. Fore course
9. Fore lower topsail
10. Fore upper topsail
11. Fore lower topgallant sail
12. Fore upper topgallant sail
13. Fore royal
14. Main royal staysail
15. Main topgallant staysail
16. Main topmast staysail
17. Main course
18. Main lower topsail
19. Main upper topsail
20. Main lower topgallant sail
21. Main upper topgallant sail
22. Main royal
23. Mizzen royal staysail
24. Mizzen topgallant staysail

25. Mizzen topmast staysail
26. Main spencer
27. Crossjack, mizzen course
28. Mizzen lower topsail
29. Mizzen upper topsail
30. Mizzen lower topgallant sail
31. Mizzen upper topgallant
32. Mizzen royal
33. Spanker

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Basic Parts

Here are the bare bones basics of sailboat. These apply to small sailboats all the way up to the tall ships.
Parts of the Hull
The body or fuselage of a sailboat is the hull. Hulls provide buoyancy required to carry cargo and a platform for mounting the sails.

  • Bow - The forward part of the sailboat
  • Centerboard or Keel - A structure that extends down into the water that improves stability, maneuverability and limits lateral movement in the water. Smaller vessels use a dagger or centerboard that is removable. Larger boats have a fixed keel that is often filled with ballast
  • Stern - The back or aft part of the sailboat
  • Rudder - A movable vertical plane at the stern of the sailboat that is used to steer a sailboat
  • Tiller - On smaller sailboats, the rudder is controlled manually with a lever at the stern of the boat. Larger vessels depend on mechanical steering systems
  • Transom - A flat surface at the aft end of a sailboat.

Parts of the Rigging

A sailboat's rigging takes in all the components that support the mast and sails. Rigging varies greatly between different styles of boats.

  • Mast - The main upright structural member of the sailboat that supports the sails
  • Boom - The horizontal structural member attached to the foot of the mainsail
  • Spreader - A bar that holds the shroud out away from the mast
  • Standing Rigging - Wire ropes that support the mast. They include:
    • Stay - A wire rope that runs from the top of the mast to locations fore and aft on the hull
    • Shroud - A wire rope that adds additional lateral support to the mast
  • Running Rigging - Generically all the lines used to raise, lower or control the sails
    • Halyard - A line that raises or lowers the sail
    • Sheet - A line that controls a sail

Parts of a Sail
A sail is a large piece of strong fabric that catches the wind and provides propulsion for a sailboat. Many sailboats use more than one sail.

  • Head - Topmost corner of a triangular shaped sail
  • Mainsail - Normally the largest sail providing driving force for the sailboat
  • Headsail - A sail set forward of a mast
  • Jib - A triangular shaped headsail
  • Leech - The aft or trailing edge of a sail
  • Luff - The forward edge of a sail
  • Tack - The lower corner of the forward edge of a sail
  • Clew - The lower corner of the aft edge of a sail
  • Foot - The lowest edge of a sail

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


One of the best things that came out of my pirate obsession has been learning to sail. Three years ago, I went to sailing lessons on Lake Lanier and earned a license to sail up to a 25' sail boat. The bad news is that sailing is expensive, so I haven't been out on a small boat in awhile. The good news is that I have become addicted to day sails. I try to go out as much as possible. I have been out on tall ships in: Charleston, Biloxi, and several times in Boston Harbour. I'm off to Boston again next month and have plans to sail Boston Harbour and off Martha's Vineyard. I can't wait.

I'm in a sailing mood so my next few posts will pertain to sailing. I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The History

About five years ago, a few friends were sitting around discussing what type of pirate ship we would command if given the opportunity. Of course, everyone described the big, bad, nasty ship armed to the hilt with every possible weapon imaginable with names that would make victims tremble in their boots. This vein of discussion went on for quit awhile. After witnessing this growing competition for the alpha pirate ship, I announced my decision.

They could outfit their ships to the nines with every weapon known to man, put on a scary name and sail for the fight. Not me. I wanted to enjoy what life I had left. With that I christened the Black Bunny. On the BB, it's more about the drinking of rum, the camaraderie of crew and the party as we watch everyone else battle it out and slowly sink. We like to have a good time.

The idea of laid-back pirates struck a chord and the idea of the Black Bunny has been growing ever since.

She may not be the biggest or the badest ship on the seven seas but I guarantee the Black Bunny in the most fun.

The Articles


The crew is democratic, with all members being equal. Important decisions are made by way of a vote, with the Captain making the final choice if there is no clear majority. The Black Bunny has no political or social goals and is crown neutral; its only concern is for itself and its members. Members are expected to look out for items of interest to the crew and to aid its members whenever possible.

I. Every crew member has a vote in affairs of moment.

II. The fund of all payments under the articles is the stock of what is gotten by the expedition, following the same law as other pirates, that is, No prey, no pay.

III. Every crew member has equal title to provisions and strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure.

IV. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.

V. If any time we shall meet another Crew, that person who signs their Articles without the Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.

VI. They that shall be found Guilty of Cowardice in the time of engagement, shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Company shall think fit.

VII. They that shall be found Guilty of Defrauding, Stealing or keeping any secret from the Company shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Majority of the Company shall think fit.

VIII. No Crew shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force, but every man's quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. He is declared the victor who draws the first blood.

IX. The first Crew who enters on boarding a Prize in an engagement and strikes the Colours, shall receive half a share for their Bravery.

X. Good Quarters to be given only when commanded.

This act formally inducts the signer into the pirate crew of The Black Bunny and pledges loyalty and allegiance to the Black Bunny, the pirates that serve as her crew and Black Bunny Oath,

“One crew, pillaging and plundering, with rum and booty for all!”