A Schooner is a long-rigged sailing ship with originally two, but later also more masts. The hull is long and narrow (4:1 ratio) with a deeply draft keel, and the frames have a S-shape over the entire length. A characteristic feature of schooner rigs is that the aft mast is longer than the forward one (with the exception of the early European schooner rigged ships of the 19th century). By three-masted schooners, the masts can be the same length, possibly the middle one can be longer. The front mast (jib mast) was often equipped with two square sails. In Western Europe, around 1900 many schooners were used for coastal shipping. These had have a flat bottom and were sometimes fitted with side swords to limit drift in the absence of a keel. Around 1910 the first auxiliary engines were installed. The ship type fell into disuse after 1920 due to the emerging motorized coastal shipping.

The schooner was developed on the North American east coast, and most likely the Newfoundland area. Initially, the schooners were intended for fishing on the Grand Banks.

A square sail on the front or foremast is called breefok in the Dutch language area. The standing gaff rig was developed in the Netherlands around the 16th century. Forerunners were the sprit and smack sail. The topsails made their appearance around 1800 and with the disappearance of square sails the schooner rig was born. The schooners built for trade were given a topmast on the aft mast that could carry the gaff topsail and this gave rise to the still used (modern) high-cross mast schooner rig, but contrary to popular belief, this is not a special schooner feature. Many of the later freight schooners had U-shaped trusses in the center section, steeply raked stems and a deep keel.

Three-mast topsail schooner: One or two square sails above the schooner sail on the fore mast.
Three masted schooner: All masts are long rigged.
Grandbank Schooner: The ancestor of all schooners was used on the grandbanks of Nova Scotia for fishing. They had to withstand the turbulent seas of the Gulf Stream and the unpredictable local weather. They were smooth-decked and light but strong built mainly of Oregon pine.

2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 masted schooners have been built, and even a 7-masted schooner. All sail the standing gaff rig behind the mast.

Gaff topsails could be fed to any mast if it was extended by a topmast. The regular topsail or jib was first used only on the foremast, but later on all masts, and were used in light winds on broad courses.

DOEVE Brokers and Valuers is your dedicated Yacht Broker and Ship Broker for Schooners. For further information about the sale of your Schooner or if you wish to purchase a Schooner, please contact us.