The world of sailing has evolved from the days when the only way to travel was by boat. Today, we have ships that are so large that they can carry thousands of people at one time and sail thousands of miles without stopping. The ships we see today are marvels of engineering and science. They are built for speed and comfort. Sails are the most important part of any ship. Sailboats need sails to propel them through the water. Sailboats are not powered by propellers or other mechanical devices. Instead, they rely on the wind for power.
Sails are made of cloth or canvas. These sails are attached to the mast. A mast is a pole that is set into the deck of a ship. The mast holds up the sail. The mast can be as tall as a hundred feet. Sailboats with tall masts are called tall masted sailing vessels. Smaller sailboats have shorter masts. There are different types of sails. Some are square sails. Others are triangular. Some are shaped like a parabolic arch. These are called “cutters.” Other types of sails include spinnakers, which are used in races.
The wind acts on the sails. When the wind hits the sails, it pushes the ship forward. The sails pull the water and make the ship go. In order to make the ship go faster, the sails must be bigger. The sails are made of canvas or cloth. These sails are held up by ropes called halyards. The halyards are tied to the mast. The halyards are also attached to the sails. The halyards are pulled up to raise the sails. This makes the sails larger. When the sails are larger, the ship goes faster.
Sailboats are usually powered by sail. The sailboat uses wind power to move. Sailboats are faster than boats with propellers. Sailboats can sail upwind or downwind. Upwind means that the boat sails against the wind. Downwind means that the boat sails with the wind. If the wind blows from the north, the sailboat will sail south. If the wind blows from south, the sailboat will sail north. The sailboat can go upwind or downwind in any direction.
Sailboats can also sail on the plane of the wind. This is called running before the wind. If the wind is blowing from the west, the sailboat can run to the east. If the wind is blowing south, the sailboat can run north. The sailboat can run on the plane of the wind.