Portcities Southampton
UK * Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton
You are here: PortCities Southampton > Diversity of Ships > Ships in the age of sail > Ships and Barques > The ship rig
* Text only * About this site * Site Map * Feedback
Explore this site
Start Here
About Us
Partners And Collections
Get Interactive!
Image galleries
The Docks
River Itchen
Southampton at war
Flying Boats
Finding Out More
Southampton speaks
Street Directories
Historic Buildings Survey
Registers and Records
Lloyd's Register
Official Sources
Other Records
Finding Out More
Wrecks and Accidents
Why accidents happen
Improving Safety at Sea
Finding Out More
Wreck Reports
Life of a Port
How a port comes to life
At work in a port
Ports at play
Trade - lifeblood of a port
Finding Out More
On the Line
Company growth and development
Shipping lines
Transatlantic travel
Preparing a liner
Finding Out More
Sea People
Life at sea
Jobs at sea
Travelling by sea
Starting a new life by sea
Women and the sea
Finding Out More
Diversity of Ships
The variety of ships
What drives the ship?
Ships of ancient times
Ships in the age of sail
Ships of the steam age
Ships of today

Ships and Barques

The ship rig

The ship rig was probably the commonly used by vessels during the first part of this period, and the most prestigious ships retained this rig until the end of sail.  There were three masts: from bow to stern these were the fore mast, the main mast (usually the tallest) and the mizzen. 

Square sails were carried on all three masts.  On the fore and main masts, the largest and lowest of the sails were the courses.  Then came the topsails, and above them the topgallants.  In later years, the single topsails and topgallants were split into two, known – quite logically – as the lower and upper topsails and lower and upper topgallants.  In ships that needed to sail particularly fast, additional sails were added.  Fitted above the topgallants were royals and above them skysails.  Rigged from outward extensions of the yards which supported the other sails were studding sails. 

The mizzen mast in a ship was rigged rather differently from the main and fore mast.  It carried a fore-and-aft sail called the spanker, and above that square topsails and topgallants, as on the other masts. 

Ships also carried fore-and-aft sails rigged between the masts, known as staysails.  The fore staysail was rigged from the foremast to the bow.  Between the fore mast and the bowsprit (a pole forward from the bow) one or sometimes more jibs would be set above the fore staysail.  


Advanced Search
Southampton City Council New Opportunities Fund Lloyd's Register London Metropolitan Archives National Maritime Museum World Ship Society  
Legal & Copyright * Partner sites: Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton * Text only * About this site * Feedback