...sixteen winds could be designated....One of the reasons for this multiplicity of winds was the improvement in the sailing qualities of ships due to a number of technical developments. A rudder hung at the stern instead of the two steering blades; the introduction of the bowline for hauling tight the leading edge of a squaresail when the yard was braced around for winds other than those coming from stern or on the quarter; the adding of one or two more masts, one of them being the lateen-rigged mizzen mast. All these improvements enabled square-rigged ships to sail closer to the wind and increase their arc of sailing. Using the analogy of a clock face, a merchant ship of Aristotle's time, with a wind blowing from the north or twelve o'clock, had a sailing arc restricted to the hours between four o'clock and eight o'clock. Later square-rigged ships, with the new technological improvements of rig and rudder, had increased that arc of sailing from two o-clock to ten o-clock. Yards could be braced around, bowlines hauled tight, and the attempt made to sail upwind.
Friday, July 16, 2010
From Compass by Alan Gurney (pages 46-47):