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Shipcraft: Sail Handling

Mouse over to clew up
the main course.
The crew clews up the main course under Captain Reynolds' supervision.

Once our crew masters the arts of line handling, they can put their new skills to use. In a sense, operating a sailing ship like the Half Moon is like manipulating a giant marionette, with each line moving a specific yardarm or sail in a specific way. The clews, for example, draw the lower corners of the sails back up to the yard; you can see them in use to the left.

Working the sails requires a lot of hands, and thus a lot of cooperation. The crew divides into teams while sail handling -- one team working the fore mast while the other works the main mast. The spritsail and mizzenmast sometimes see use as well, though these require advanced training. The mast teams must coordinate their efforts to effectively operate the ship when under sail.

These sails both propel and help steer the ship. In fact, the fore sails have more effect on determining the Half Moon's direction than its rudder!

We don't expect to see much sail time once we enter the close confines of the Connecticut River. Fortunately, however, by starting our Voyage of Discovery out in the open waters of Long Island Sound, we were able to enjoy several extended sails on Days One and Two.

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