A question we are often asked is “What exactly is a Tall Ship?” While there has been much debate about this topic, it is now generally accepted that a Tall Ship is a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. There are many different styles of Tall Ships; brigs, brigantines, barquentines, ketches, schooners, sloops, and full-rigged ships. The style of ship is determined by the number of masts and the shape of the sails. There are two classes of Tall Ships based on size. Class A being for a ship over 131 feet in length and class B for ships 30-131 feet in length.
For hundreds of years vessels such as these carried men and women around the world and served as the quickest form of mass transportation. Because they were so common, it is unlikely that these types of ships were referred to as Tall Ships before the 19th century. The first recorded mention of a Tall Ship comes from the poem Sea Fever by English Poet Laureate John Masefield.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.