Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Art of Sailing

Join Aquarium Teen Program Coordinator Liz Whitlinger and campers with the Harbor Discoveries Schooner Adventure Camp. After a week of preparation, our crew of young explorers boarded a Grand Banks schooner and set sail for a five-day, four-night excursion exploring Massachusetts Bay.

Here's a quick lesson in sailing from one of the campers:
The art of harnessing the wind in the sails of a ship is far from simple. To begin with, you simply cannot go directly upwind under sail, you must zigzag back and forth across the wind. This is called tacking.

The Spirit of Massachusetts is a schooner which means it has four sails. The main and the fore sails are rigged with a gaff, an extra pole attached to the mast above the sail as opposed to the boom which is below the sail.  This allows for a maneuver called scandalizing, to have the sail raised but not functioning. We have often scandalized before raising the anchor to avoid dragging it.

In addition we have learned what each category of line does, perhaps the most valuable lesson of the voyage. Halyards raise and hold the sails, sheets control their position and preventers top the sails from swinging across the decks if we cross the wind accidentally. We've also learned many sailor's knots which will be useful even when we're off the schooner.

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