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Shipcraft: Sail Handling

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.

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 put our new crew through their paces on Day Two, enjoying a continuous day of sail through the Lange Rack (the "Long Reach"). Our course from Cementon up to Kingston took us through narrow, treacherous side channels, requiring swift and accurate sail handling to navigate.

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