How Old Ships Sail Without Wind In The Ancient Times?

The wind is essential to sailing. A sailboat will not move forward without wind, so every sailor knows that wind can become their best friend.

If the ancient ships did not have any wind, they could not move forward unless they would row or get towed somehow. Wind for the ancient vessels was significant, or they would remain in what was known as becalmed or without wind.

The Becalmed State Of Ancient Ships

The ancient sailors could not sail if there were no wind; they would either have to row or somehow be towed. Not being able to sail because there was no wind was so common, so there is even a term for it that is known as becalmed.

In the Collins Dictionary, the word becalmed is defined as:

(Of sailing boat or ship) motionless through lack of wind.

Collins Dictionary

These ancient sailors understood that when they were in a becalmed state, all they could do was try to wait for the wind to come so that they could continue to sail.

The becalmed state of a ship could happen for a few hours, a few days, and even weeks at a time. Getting out of the becalmed, depended on the wind to come for the ship to move forward.

About Wind And Ancient Ships

Sailing and the ancient ship dates back literally thousands of years. For thousands of years, men have been using the wind to be able to glide over the waters to get to their destination.

The Austronesian people, who include present-day Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, were said to be the first people to invent a sailing vessel that could sail over large bodies of water.

Ancient Egypt in the Mediterranean also used sailing ships for the rivers and coastal waters. Sailing and using the wind to propel people over the water has long been something that has been around for centuries

Listen To Our Podcast About Ancient Ships, Wind, Sun, Stars, And Innovation below or by clicking here.

What has changed over the years is the technology and the understanding of how to better use the wind and sails to propel the sailors and their ships in the direction they need to go.

Ancient boats, in particular sailing boats, are something that people have had for 1000s of years. Throughout all these years, the sailors depended upon the wind to move them in the right direction and to their destination.

Sailing and how human beings have been able to use the wind for thousands of years shows us the human spirit of ingenuity. Some of the first boats for sailing were made from reed, wood, and even stretched animal skin.

These materials would break down quickly and easily, so they did not have long-lasting effects or records. Because there are not any of these boats left, it can be challenging for archaeologists and historians to pinpoint precisely when and how the sailing vessel started.

For a long time, the sailboats also had rowers that would allow the boat to continue moving if the wind changed direction or they could no longer sail. As technology improved, so did the ability of these sailors.

Tacking, Jibing Sailing Maneuvers, And The Wind

Some of the greatest inventions in transportation by sail and ship were the tacking, jibing, and beating in sailing maneuvers. The creation and understanding of these maneuvers opened up a whole new way for the ancient sail ships to move across the world’s waters.

Tacking By (Grant, 2008, p. 83) Under The Blog Of Tim Migaki

Tacking was the sailing maneuver where the sailing vessel’s desired course is into the wind. The ship or the bow of the boat is turned through to the wind so that the direction the wind blows changes from one side of the boat to the other. The tacking maneuver allows the boat to continue to progress in the wind, even if the wind is going straight at them and not behind them.

Tacking is essential because a sailing ship cannot proceed directly into the wind but often needs to make the tacking movement continue to move forward.

Jibing By (Grant, 2008, p. 83) Under The Blog Of Tim Migaki

The opposite maneuver from tacking is known as jibbing. Wearing or jibbing is a sailing maneuver when the sailing vessel reaches a downwind and then turns its stern through to the wind. In a jib, the mainsail will cross the boat’s center while the jib is pulled to the other side of the ship. 

These maneuvers were critical in sailing because they allowed the sailors to sail in all kinds and directions of the wind and stay on their desired course. Without them, it is hard to keep on the course, and you have to go wherever the wind will take you with your sails.

Beating is also a maneuver used in sailing; I have used it when the wind is low. Beating is a point of sail. It is used when the wind is upwind, and so you sail the boat in a zigzag pattern to reach your destination through a zigzag but almost straight line.

The inventions of these basic sailing maneuvers allowed these ancient ships to move through all kinds of wind when. If there was no wind, they were in a becalmed state and would have to wait for the wind to continue moving forward.

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How Much Wind Is Too Much For A Beginner Sailor?

For a beginner sailor, the wind is usually recommended to be under 10 knots. Those who are more experienced or with a larger boat can consider going up to 12 knots of wind. A knot is not the same as miles per hour or kilometer per hour but is faster than these measurements.

By clicking here, you can discover How Much Wind Is Too Much For A Beginner Sailor?

No Experience Sailing, 6 Tips To Get Started

If you are going to take up sailing, then the first thing you must do is get on a boat and find out if sailing is suitable. The best sailors can handle their boats in all kinds and types of weather. Find a class that you can join and get certified. Sailing requires knowledge and skill. Find yourself a sailing community that you can be part of.

By clicking here, you can discover No Experience Sailing, 6 Tips To Get Started.

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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How Old Ships Sail Without Wind In The Ancient Times?