Sailing Ship Origins
No body knows who it was that first harnessed the power of the wind to push a ship along the oceans. It might have been almost an accidental discovery when some person stood up in a small boat and felt that the wind was pushing against a garment or blanket. Sailing ships that sailed the oceans and put to sea were probably sailing around the Mediterranean Sea over five thousand years ago, researchers have claimed.
The great age of sail lasted more than four hundred years from the fifteenth to the nineteenth Century. During that period of history sailing ships sailed from Europe to all parts of the earth on nautical voyages of discovery. Junks from China sailed all through the oceans and seas of South East Asia and across the wide Indian Ocean. Merchant ships from all countries carried on trading enterprises and moved people from land mass to land mass. Navies of countries that were at war fought some major battles at sea for dominance of the trading routes.
In the middle of the Eighteenth Century the fast clipper ships were the kings of the oceans. These fast and sleek clipper tall ships carried tea from China to America and Europe. These clipper ships were slim and graceful, with three tall masts that were called the foremast, the main mast and the mizzen mast. The clipper ships of the eighteenth century and beyond were the fastest moving ships on the ocean at the time. A clipper ship that was sailing at top speed with the right winds could sail over six hundred and fifty kilometers , which was about four hundred miles, in a single day.
When steam power was invented and used to propel ships, the age of sailing ships came to a finish because they were replaced by ships that could travel faster and carry larger cargos in their steel holds. These new steam powered ships did no depend on the wind any more for their propulsion. The Cutty Sark was one of the most famous clipper ships of days of sail. Today, some cargo ships have been developed in Japan which use metal sails as well as their normal petrol or diesel engines. Because of the major rises in oil costs, perhaps we may see a resurgence of these great sailing ships once again, or technology that relies on the wind or natural resources like the sun.
The Great Eastern was launched in 1858 and was sometimes considered to have been the first of the great ocean liners. She was the largest ship in the world at the time of her launch. The Great Eastern has two paddle-wheels, two screw engines and six masts for sail.