On this beautiful August day, I sailed with the Quinnipiack Schooner in New Haven Harbor. It was a very laid back Sunday morning, when even the wind couldn’t be bothered out of its lethargy. So the two-masted schooner lazed along in the harbor, even as tug boats helped two commercial tankers transverse the harbor while we lingered.
We did get a history of the working New Haven harbor and its ancillary businesses like the ropemaker and sailmaker and other services for a maritime center. Now all gone. New Haven is now mostly a “fuel terminal” for sand and salt. The water of Long Island Sound is actually pretty clean, although the mud apparently has absorbed the decades of pollution.
More upbeat was learning about the schooner itself. The word comes from ‘schoon’, pronounced shoon, and refers to the way the boat moves through the water. The apocryphal story goes that a very fine lady on shore remarked about one of the boats, “oh, how she schoons!”
Schooners are designed to take wind from the side for a fast and comfortable sail. This in contrast to oyster boats designed to run aground, so the oysters can be harvested. These boats are called New Haven Sharpies and are still built and sailed today.
Sailing information for you. The difference between ‘true’ wind and ‘apparent wind’: true wind is the direction and speed of the wind determined by reading the flags on board; apparent wind is the wind generated by the vessel itself, plus the true wind. Now you know.
Our sail was pretty calm, with basically no true wind, and therefore without much movement. We did watch a sailboat churning along under engine power, seemingly saiingl right toward a tanker. “Huh?”we all wondered. At the last minute, it swerved away. Weird.
And either the Coast Guard or one of the tanker security people called the Quinnipiac, in other words us, “troublemakers.” I think that was in jest, even though boats operating under their own sail have the right of way. So our little schooner could have made the tankers wait on us. “Etiquette,” explained Becca, the mate, “plays a role, too. They’re doing business. We’re just happy to stay out of the way.”
Check out this geometries , which really caught my eye. See more in the slide show below.