Traditional Sails

Sailing vessels are designed to sail through a wide range of wind speeds. To enable the
vessel to be powered through this range of wind speeds, a variety of sails can be set.
Liberty can carry up to five sails, which include a Mainsail, Staysail, Jib, Jib Topsail and
a Main Topsail.
The sails aboard Liberty are made of modem synthetic fabric called Dacron. Traditional
sails were made of Egyptian cotton. Although the cotton could be tightly woven it was
susceptible to mildew and rot. The cotton sails were preserved and protected by soaking
the cloth in a solution of linseed oil, pine tar and hemlock bark. The tannic acid in the
hemlock bark would leave the cloth with a brownish-red tint. The sails came to be called
tanbark sails.
Our sails are of two varieties, four sided and triangular. The mainsail is a
four-sided sail. These sails are attached to the mast and supported on the upper edge by a
spar called a gaff: The lower edge is fastened to a spar called the boom. The mainsail is
the largest sail. This design is referred to as a Gaff Rig.