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Most large sailing vessels fall into on of a number of well defined vessel types. Notable exceptions are some of the schooners that evolved during the transition from square to fore and aft rig. These vessels are often referred to by different names in different regions. In order to avoid confusion, the following terminology will be adopted within this book:


   Three‑masted Fore and Aft Schooner: a vessel that sets only gaff sails and staysails an all three masts.


   Three‑masted Topsail Schooner: a vessel that, in addition to fore and aft canvas, sets topsails and a single topgallant on the foremast only.


   Three‑masted Two‑topsail Schooner: a vessel that, in addition to fore and aft sails, sets topsails and topgallants on both the fore and main masts.


   Barquentine: a vessel having a fully‑rigged foremast, comprising a fidded topmast and topgallant mast, together with their respective yards. The main and mizzen masts set fore and aft canvas only.


Within this book, barquentines and brigantines have been included in the section dealing with square‑riggers.


Vessels rigged as described above, but fitted more than three masts, are denoted by similar names; excepting that the term three‑masted is replaced by four‑masted, five‑masted, etc. as appropriate.


Problems are sometimes also encountered with the terminology for smaller vessels ‑ from schooners downwards. Not only do subtle differences occur between the various vessel types, but also often more than one name is applied to a single vessel type, depending upon the particular locality. Moreover, the various vessel types have evolved over the years. Some forms have died out completely with others taking their place. Thus, "Polacker" "Pinken", "Hucker", "Schmacken" and "Buisen" are now no longer seen in German waters. "Kuffen" "Gallioten", "Schniggen" and "Kahne" are now rarely built and are gradually dying out. "Tjalken" and "Kufftjalken" survivors from the past as evidenced by their very old hull form, are still being built and are to be found everywhere. Other types including "Mutten", "Punten" "Aaken", etc., though originally used on rivers and canals, have now gradually evolved into seagoing vessels.


The small coasters of the German Merchant Marine listed overleaf are best categorized by considering separately the characteristics of hull form and rig.


There are two major types of hull form:




These Include:


Schooners. Luggers and Cutters. Typically these vessels have a plumb or overhanging stem, counter stern and moderate sheer. Most sea‑going vessels are of this type.


"Galeassen" Though similar to the vessels above, "Galeassen" have greater sheer, overhanging stem and. often, a transom stern Instead of a counter.


"Schaluppen" and "Jachten" Similar to "Galeassen" except that these vessels always have a transom stern instead of the counter.


"Gallioten" These vessels have a pronounced sheer, overhanging stem and canoe stern with a plumb stern post. The hull has fine waterlines beneath the load waterline, filling out to a more rounded form above. Some degree of tumblehome is introduced above the wales.


*Schniggen" Similar to *Gallioten" except for the upper part of the stern which has a fuller form.


"Kuffen" These vessels have a very pronounced sheer, no counter, overhanging stem and plumb sternpost. The lines of the immersed portion of the stern are fine, however above the water level both the bow and stern are very full. The hull has an exaggerated tumblehome above the wales. Often the keel is very shallow, leeway being prevented by bilge keels.




These include:


"Tjalken" and "Kufftjalken" These vessels have a form similar to that' of "Kuffen" except that they lack the fine lines aft owing to the leeboards. Instead, the stern is spoon‑shaped with a large deadwood supporting the plumb sternpost.


"Ewer'. These vessels have a large sheer, slack bilges, greatly overhanging stem and transom stern.


"Kahne" are similar in design to "Ewer" except that the sheer aft is not as great and the transom is larger and set more upright.


"Mutten" The lines of "Mutten" converge to a point at both the forward and aft ends. Fully‑decked vessels, they have a moderate sheer, overhanging stem and neither a counter nor a transom. "Mutten" were once used exclusively for river work; however, nowadays they frequently also put to sea.


"Punten" and "Aaken" Though occasionally registered as seagoing vessels; "Punten" and "Aaken" have features more characteristic of river vessels. They can be used at sea only after substantial modification to both construction and form. "Punten" for example must be decked over and the lines forward given a finer form. Once modified in this way, they are called "Spitzpunte". The alternative name of "Mutte'', sometimes heard, should not be used.


The rigs of small vessels can be subdivided into categories as follows:


1. TWO‑MASTED VESSELS. this category covers vessels having a main mast aft with a second mast of similar size, the fore mast, stepped forward. The main mast sets a mainsail. Included in this category are schooner‑rigged "Kuffen", "Gallioten" and "Jachten" as well as fore and aft schooners.


2. ONE AND A HALF MASTERS. Vessels with one large and one small mast. The main mast carrying a mainsail is stepped forward, with the second smaller mast, the mizzen, stepped aft. These “one and a half masters" represent a type intermediate between single and two masters. Included in this category are "Kuffen", "Kufftjalken" "Gallioten", "Galeassen", “Jachten”, two‑masted "Ewer' and "Kahne", luggers, "Schniggen", ketches and yawls.


"Gallioten" and "Galeassen" ("Schlupgaleassen") have a fidded topmast on the main mast and sometimes also on the mizzen. All the other “one and a half" masters have pole masts. A gaff topsail is set from the main and perhaps also from the mizzen. In general, "Kufftjalken”, "Ewer" and 'Kahne" with two masts set only three headsails. The other types may set either three or four.


3. SINGLE‑MASTED VESSELS. This category includes "Jachten", "Schaluppen', cutters, "Tjalken", "Ewer", "Kahne" and "Mutten". At Neuvorpommern and Rugen, the term "Jacht" refers to a vessel with a pole mast, fixed bowsprit and fidded jibboom. "Schaluppe" which set a square sail are called "Raaschaluppel". Cutters have a single mast with or without a fidded topmast. The "Ewer" and 'Kahne" of the Lower Weser have a pole mast, fixed bowsprit and set two headsails. The setting of a gaff topsail above the mainsail is optional on all single‑masters.


4. PLEASURE CRAFT (yachts) are divided into categories as fallows:


Sloops: These vessels have a single mast (with or without a fidded topmast), a mainsail and usually a single headsail. The mainsail may either be a gaff sail with perhaps a gaff topsail, or a lugger‑, sprit‑, Houari‑ or sliding gunter sail may be set. The tack of the headsail is taken down to the bowsprit or, where none is fitted, to the end of a long overhanging stem. If more than one headsail is carried, sloops may be distinguished from cutters by the way these sails are set from the headstays.


Cutters: These vessels have a single mast (with or without a fidded topmast), a mainsail and possibly a gaff topsail. Both a fore staysail and jib are set ‑ the former from a stay which is led to the stem. Cutters with a fidded topmast may also carry a jib topsail. Both the jib and jib topsail are set on stays that lead to the bowsprit; the jib generally being set from a running stay. A Houari­- or sprit rig is sometimes adopted in lieu of the gaff rig.


Yawls: The rig of yawls is similar to sloops and cutters except that an additional mast, the mizzen, is stepped at the stern adjacent to or abaft the rudder. A gaff‑, lug‑, Houari‑ or Marconi sail is set from the mizzen.


Ketches: Rigged similar to yawls except that the additional mast (the mizzen) is stepped forward of the rudder post. Either a gaff sail with perhaps a gaff topsail, or a sprit‑ or Houari sail is set from the mizzen. The main difference between ketches and yawls lies in the relative size of the mizzen to the mainsail ‑ the mizzen being much larger on ketches.


The various vessel types may be summarized as follows:


Vessels with a keel and rise of floor

Flat bottomed vessels with lee‑boards


Schooner (Topsail Schooner)


"Schonerjacht" ("Jachtschoner")



Fore and Aft Schooners

(with or without lee‑ or centreboards)





“Galeass" ("Schlupgaleass")

"Galeassewer" ("Jachtgaleass")




"Ewerkahn" "Besahnewer")

"Besahnkahn" ("Kahnewer")

Two‑masted "Ewer"

Two‑masted "Kahn"


Yachts (ketch) with or without centreboards (yawl)











Yachts (cutter) with or without centreboards (sloop)