Justin Ruthven-Tyers

writer and artist for people who love boats and the sea..

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Caol Ila
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Caol Ila’s bowsprit

It was realized fairly early on in the development of sailing boats that they could be made to carry more sail by rigging a spar forward of the bow, and flying sails from the end of it. The number and area of sails that can be crowded onto a traditional boat is what gives her such beauty. But it wasn’t beauty that was in the mind of her sailors, the pursuit of speed, particularly amongst pilot boats of the 1800’s, was driven by the fact that the first pilot boat to reach a tall ship as she arrived over the horizon ‘from foreign’ got the job of piloting her safely to her destination port. Sitting on the end of a bowsprit, watching the bow of the vessel carve through the waves as she thuners along, is thrilling!

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