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Tall Ship Spotting

Spot different types of tall ships using this guide


Tall Ship Spotting What a wonderful sight tall ships make as they come close to us on land or at sea. Today they are a rarity and the best chance to see lots of them together are at Festivals of the Sea and Tall Ships Race around the world.

Yet in the past such numbers would have been common place in all ports of the world. These vessels came in all sizes from the large Tea Clipper to the small work boats that worked the coastal waters for trade and fishing.

This is an introduction to the main types of tall ships you can see and hopefully will make your Tall Ship Spotting more enjoyable.

For a fuller understanding of Tall ships we recommend the following books;

  • Sailing Ship Rigs & Rigging by Harold A. Underhill published by Brown, Son & Ferguson Ltd ISBN 0 85174 176 2
  • Sail’s Last Century, Editor Robert Gardiner, Publisher Conway Maritime Press, ISBN 0 85117 565 9


Three masted ships In the old days a ship meant a sailing vessel with square sails on three or more masts.

Windjammer Dar Mlodziezy.

Three masted barques This has square sails on the two forward masts, fore and main masts, and fore aft sails on the mizzen, stern most mast. It’s a bit like cricket the words make one more confused – that’s why Flickr so good. Stick to the pics.

Ras des flots Alexander von Humboldt 3 master

Three masted barquentine - only has square sails on the foremast.

Brest 2000 

Four masted barquentine - square sails on the foremast only.

"J. S. de Elcano"  desplegando velas 

Two masted brig - square sails on both masts.

TallShips04 088 The Lady Washington

Two masted Brigantine  - Square sails on foremast only.

The Soren Larsen

Asgard II sail training ship

Three masted schooner Good  photo required.

Two masted schooner

Schooner Adventuress

Two masted Schooner by the hull shape and masts; on schooners the aft mast (the main mast) is taller than the foremast.

The Mercantile 

Two masted Topsail schooner  - schooner with square sails on the foremast.

The Lynx 

Two masted ketches - foremast is taller than main mast

 The opposition 3 Tall Ships in Torbay: Bessie Ellen

Gaff cutter yachts - yacht are single masted - gaffs are wooden spars supporting sails in a fore and aft direction; cutter means there are two or more sails in front of the mast - one setting from the bows and the others from the bowsprit.

Lizzie May and Eve of St Mawes 

We will attempt to add and improve on this with time.

Fair winds and safe landfalls, Adam Purser



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