The first four ships shown here illustrate proposals for new generation square riggers, in which windward ability is an innovative and important feature.
This improvement over conventional rig has been amply validated since 2007 by “Pelican of London” the 2226 grt sail training vessel created by Commander Graham Neilson, RN. Retd., to a sail plan by the author, and the reason for adopting it is the greatly increased safety factor. Throughout maritime history, the inability to sail to windward effectively and the uncertainty in tacking have always been major components of sailing ship losses in close quarters, and even today with auxiliary engines it is known that a head wind of no more than 20 knots will bring a windjammer to a standstill due to windage. As opposed to this, the new arrangement of standing rigging, which allows the yards to be braced to within 18º of centreline instead of the conventional optimum of 34º, means that a modern ship could motor-sail under reduced rig on a course of 40º to the true wind, or under power alone, point 18º to the true wind with her yards feathered to zero angle of incicdence. Naturally the situations quoted refer to dire conditions in the proximity of danger and are not presented as an habitual option. In fair weather, a course of 35º to the true wind should be possible, while going about is as smooth and certain as on a bermudan sloop, because the operation is initiated from a close angle to the wind instead of from 60º off, and the ship consequently carries her way into the wind for a considerable distance.
Related blog sites are: “A Possible Further Improvement in Weatherly Square Rig“ and “Improving the sailing qualities of square rigged ships“.
In new sailing cruise ships these improvements should be mandatory, the more so since visual departures from traditional appearance are so slight that there is nothing to be lost by adopting them, and everything tobe gained. Any new square rigger with a sail plan copied from those in F.L.Middendorf´s definitive 1903 treatise “Bemastung un d Takelung der Shiffe” would nowadays be a serious mistake.
As regards propulsive efficiency on a windward course, square rig is surprisingly good. The luffs of square sails cut into clean air far ahead of the turbulence caused by the mast, so that the low aspect ratio is amply compensated by sheer area and by the fact that these ships are sailed at very small angles of heel.
95.3m three-masted STV based on Charles Nicholsin´s 1927 “Juan Sebastian De Elcano” minus the raised poop and forecastle for reduced windage and in consideration of smaller crews in the present day. Bracing of upper yards when on the wind is necessarily assisted by tightening the lee yard lifts to counter yardarm dip. The sister drawing shows a more conventional bracing arrangement for those who prefer it.
45m STV brig with accommodation for 53 souls and round bilge or multi-chine hull construction according to means.
41m brigantine for the many lovers of “eye of the wind”. Because the main topsail yard comes so close to centreline when on the wind, the spanker gaff must be low enough to clear it.
30m bruig with capacity for 28 souls, once propiosed for South Africa´s Cape Windjammer Trust. For simplicity she has a high-deadrise single chine steel hull which on paper looks well up to the requirements of the stormy waters of the cape.
10,000 ton deadweight bulk carrier based on the 1920 five-masted “Preussen” but with yards fixed to rotating lattice masts and with in-yard roller furlineg. The masts are stayed and stepped on deck (at bulkheads) as a more commercially viable alternative to the unstayed and very expensive Dyna-rig on which it is based. A considerable further simplification (2013) of this rig proposal is described in the first of the websites quoted above, ”A Possible Further Improvement in Weatherly Square Rig“.
A fleet of such ships could maintain a steady supply of mineral ore, coal, recyclable waste or biomass with a minimal use of fossil fuel . A route to China such as ore from N.W.Australia, or coal from South Africa`s Richards Bay terminal might involve an extensive dog-leg into the Pacific to clear the Indonesian islands but with wind power free this would still be economical. On arrival at terminals and faced with a wait at anchor, a harbour crew of 6 would board, freeing the sailing crew of 12 to take over the next ship due for passage.
As a result of experience with “Pelican of London” the author has prepared a “weatherly Square Rigger Design Compendium”, copies of which are available to order.