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Whaler Rigging


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I’m preparing to dive into builds of Kate Cory and Charles W Morgan. I have read that Kate Cory started life as a schooner, then was re-rigged with square sails on the formast, becoming a brig(antine). The Morgan started life as a three masted square rigged ship, then changed the Mizzen mast to fore-and-aft rigging, becoming a bark. Both whalers, then, having morphed into vessels with fore-and-aft rigged aftermost mast. 
 

My landlubber model shipbuilder question:  Is this arrangement inherently advantageous for a whaler?  Why?

Edited by Srodbro
Corrected spelling

Steve

 

"If they suspect me of intelligence, I am sure it will soon blow over, ha, ha, ha!"

-- Jack Aubrey

 

Builds:

Yankee Hero, Fannie Gorham, We’re Here, Dapper Tom (x3), New Bedford Whaler, US Brig Lawrence (Niagara), Wyoming (half hull), Fra Berlanga (half hull), Gokstad Viking Ship, Kate Cory, Charles Morgan, Gjoa

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The Cate Cory I understand spent her first two voyages schooner rigged. Schooner rigs are cheaper to operate with less of a crew and gear needed to operate the vessel. This rig is also better at using the on and off shore winds experienced closer to shore if that was a consideration for the owners at that time. If Kate Cory started to venture further out to sea in pursuit of whales the owners would have then added a square rig to account for the winds behavior found further away from a land mass. 
 
Morgan was originally designed to make long ocean voyages and thus started with a square rig. Reducing her to a bark may have been an attempt to lower cost as the whaling trade started to falter.
 
This could apply not just to the whaling trade, but to merchant vessel alike for similar reasons unique to their industry. 
 
There are others out there with greater knowledge on sailing qualities of the different rigs than me. It would be beneficial to read what they have to contribute on this subject.
 
Scott
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On 10/6/2021 at 9:48 AM, stm said:
If Kate Cory started to venture further out to sea in pursuit of whales the owners would have then added a square rig to account for the winds behavior found further away from a land mass.

Why would a square rigger be better when away from land masses? Is it a trade-off between power and maneuverability?

Edited by Smile-n-Nod

Brett D.

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My understanding is that ships with square sails are better off since they can make long distance ocean runs more efficiently when the sails are set in favorable winds without having to tack as much.

 

Suggest someone more knowledgeable on sails/sailing share their insight on this thread that may be reading it. They would be able to clarify this subject better than me. 

 

Scott

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Trade winds.

 

They are called trade winds because they predominantly blow from the one direction, thus making it easier to establish cheaper trade routes.  Square sails generate more power than fore and aft sails. Once you set and trim your square sails for the trade wind you shouldn't have to re trim.  Saves time and money.

 

Regards,

Henry

 

Laissez le bon temps rouler ! 

 

 

Current Build:  Le Soleil Royal

Completed Build Amerigo Vespucci

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Thanks for responding. 


So, it appears the consensus is the rigging was driven by where the vessels would be spending their time most. 


I can dig that, but it also seems to me that there might be a connection between the style of rigging and the particular need for whalers to provide a steady platform whilst butchering the whale.

 

I’m thinking a large amount of fore-and-aft canvas abaft the beam would contribute to the ability of the ship to be sailing closer to the wind during that work. That thought would apply to the change to Morgan, but not to the change to Kate Cory


Perhaps the similarity in rigs is, after all, just coincidence. 

Steve

 

"If they suspect me of intelligence, I am sure it will soon blow over, ha, ha, ha!"

-- Jack Aubrey

 

Builds:

Yankee Hero, Fannie Gorham, We’re Here, Dapper Tom (x3), New Bedford Whaler, US Brig Lawrence (Niagara), Wyoming (half hull), Fra Berlanga (half hull), Gokstad Viking Ship, Kate Cory, Charles Morgan, Gjoa

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I don't think the ship were actually sailing while butchering a whale. The drag from the carcasse would have been a lot of strain on the tackles with which it was worked.

 

Apart from the fact that in the course of the 19th century labour became increasingly expensive and, therefore, crews had to be reduced and the sail plan of vessels adapated to this, one has to keep in mind that a whaler would have to be managed by a very much reduced crew while the whaleboats were out hunting. Not sure, whether there are any statistics, but I would assume that loosing a whaleboat and its crew was not uncommon - in the fight with a whale or when bad weather developed, while the boats were out. Therefore, the whaler would need to be able to be sailed with a reduced crew.

 

As a matter of fact, a full rig does not seem to have had much advantage over a barque rig and only on certain points to the wind. On most points the square sails would blanket each other and be ineffective. This is why the last big square-riggers were almost always barques.

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

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Square riggers were built for one thing; to sail efficiently down wind or at least with the wind over the quarter.  When not able to do this, the rig had major disadvantages.  They did not “point” well when sailing into the wind, tacking is complicated;  without a highly skilled crew the ship would often fail to pass through the eye of the wind, and as posted above they required large highly skilled crews.

 

Of course, before hunting whales, the ship’s first had to get to where they were likely to find them.  In the mid Nineteenth Century this required very long voyages from North America or Europe to the Pacific.  By this time, the new science of oceanography had mapped prevailing winds and currents so that whaling ship masters could make these voyages traveling mostly “downhill.”  The square rig worked well for these long voyages and when they got to the whaling grounds they could take advantage of another square rig feature:  The ability to stop the ship when pursuing, killing and butchering whales.  This involved backing some sails and filling others.

 

Schooners were far easier to maneuver than square riggers and were better adapted to dealing with contrary winds because of their ability to sail closer to the wind and to tack easily.  They also required much smaller crews.  These factors explain their near universal adoption for trades in confined or coastal waters.  It is interesting to note that the great multimasted schooners built at the end of the age of sail performed well in coastal trades but not so well on Trans Atlantic voyages.

 

So, the question is, Was Kate Corey originally built to hunt whales close to home, early whaling grounds were often in Arctic Atlantic waters, or was her Schooner rig just a mistake by her owners?

 

Roger

 

 

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