Sailboats are the only type of boats that use the wind to propel themselves forward. Some sailboats have a motor, but usually itís a sail that moves them.
People mostly use sailboats for enjoyment. Small sailboats can cost as much as $1,500 and can only be used for short trips. More expensive sailboats can come equipped with complete living quarters for two or more people. These sailboats can be used for longer vacations or even trips around the world. Some people like to have fun by racing their sailboats. There are many rules to help prevent collisions during a sailboat race. Most races are held on lakes where the competitors race in triangles.
Sailboats move by positioning the sail depending on the way the wind is blowing and which direction you want the boat to go. When the wind is blowing from the back of the boat, you simply set the sail directly across the boat. You do that so the sail fills with as much wind as possible and the boat moves forward. If sailboats could only go the same direction as the wind, they wouldnít be very useful. When the wind is coming from the front of the boat, and you donít want to go backwards, you have to position the sail to move on a diagonal so you do not go directly into the wind. By making right and left turns you can always keep the wind on an angle in front of you but not directly at you. This type of maneuver is called tacking.
Each part of a sailboat is very important. A sail can be many shapes such as a rectangle or a tall triangle. They are usually made out of canvas or nylon. The sails are attached to long poles called masts. These masts have ropes that lower and raise the sail. The mast is attached to the main part of the boat, called the hull. Passengers ride in the hull. At the back of the hull, the driver of the sailboat steers using a device called a rudder. The rudder moves side to side and helps direct the boat. Attached to the bottom of the hull is another piece of wood or fiberglass that is like the rudder, but it does not move. This is called the keel. The keel is there to stop the boat from moving sideways in the water when the wind is pushing on the sail.
"Sail" Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 2004 ed. CD ROM. Seattle: Microsoft, 2004.
"Sailing." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 2004 ed. CD ROM. Seattle: Microsoft, 2004.
Copyrighted animation of sailboat at top of page and photograph of harbor from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art only available to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.
Animation of sailboat rider from "Animation Library" <http://www.animationlibrary.com/> Image free for non-profit and personal use. (January-March, 2005).