a Gaffelschoner is designated a type of sailing boat, after the Gaffel, a device, at which the sails are fastened. Its sails are to be handled easy from deck, so that only a small crew is needed. All masts are with lengthwise-ship-standing Schratsegeln as gaffel,Gaffeltop, intermediate steam turbine and gas turbine system and Vorstagsegel getakelt. The Gaffelschoner possesses at least two, at the most however seven masts, which are normally equivalent high. An exception is the two-masted sailing boat, with which the grossmast is larger than the Fockmast.

Schematische Darstellung eines Gaffelschoners
Schematic representation of a Gaffelschoners

the masts (from nose to the tail of the ship):

  • Fockmast & grossmast (Gaffelschoner)
  • Fockmast, grossmast & mizzenmast (3-Mast-Gaffelschoner)
  • Fockmast, grossmast, Kreuzmast & mizzenmast (4-Mast-Gaffelschoner)
  • Fockmast, grossmast, Mittelmast, Kreuzmast & mizzenmast (German system) or also:
  • Fockmast, grossmast, Kreuzmast, Jiggermast & mizzenmast (English system) (5-Mast-Gaffelschoner)
  • Fockmast, grossmast, Kreuzmast, Jiggermast, driver mast & mizzenmast (6-Mast-Gaffelschoner)
  • Fockmast, grossmast, Kreuzmast,Jiggermast, driver mast, slidegate valve mast & mizzenmast (7-Mast-Gaffelschoner); there was only one ship of this type: the THOMAS'S W. LAWSON; more than 10 mast systems of naming, z existed. B. nummeriert (original system) and after the seven weekdays.

history & employment

the era of this type of ship1713 in Gloucester, mA (Massachusetts) were introduced , the USA (about 50 km northeast from bad clay/tone). These ships were developed for special tasks such as Piratenjagd or courier service. Most Gaffelschoner was equipped, 3-Mast-Gaffelschoner mainly as cargo ship was used with two or three masts.

End 19. Century many 5-Mast-Gaffelschoner were built. They were very fast and maneuverable and became particularly for the courier service and as warships, in addition, when uses freight & fishing vessels. 1900 were built the first Sechsmastgaffelschoner in Camden , Maine , the USA.Further nine ships followed. Up to a Stahlschoner were without exception wood ships, however with metal reinforcement (Komposit building method, similarly the more modern Klippern). They served as cargo ships, particularly for coal transport at the North American east coast.

The largest Gaffelschoner - simultaneous the only 7-Mast-Gaffelschoner and second largest sailing boat (without auxiliary drive) the world - those was THOMAS'S W. LAWSON. She was built in close proximity to bad clay/tone, the USA for 1902, was 5,218 BRT largely and had 25 sails. Only 16 to 18 men crew was necessary, around the 117 m is enough and 15m broad Stahlkoloss to steer. It kenterte and sank in the storm few hours after midnight on Saturday, that 14. December 1907 west the island Annet (Hellweatherriff), Scilly islands, and caused the first environment disaster of a “oiling anchor” - its charge consisted of 58.300 barrels (= 9.269.700 l) Lubricating oil. Only two men of the crew, the captain and machinist, survived.


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