What is a brig?

Hello, everyone! Accordingly to the most popular vote, today I will try to explain the peculiar properties of brig ship. Our historical period starts in the 1665 year, but the final appearance and all the characteristics of brig have been formed only in 1720-50s. So first, we will talk about the predecessor of a Brig itself. It is called Snow of a special construction “Langar” (or Snow-Brig).

What is a brig? It is is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. Classically, the brig’s rig consisted of a foremast with square sails and a mainmast with square topsails and topgallants, but a spanker fore-and-aft mainsail instead of a square course. A special yard called a crossjack was used to secure the foot of the main topsail. The forward part of the spanker sail was secured to the mainmast by a series of hoops. The main staysail could be used on the brig because there was no square course to interfere with it. A genealogical tree of vessels (by Alan Moore, 1912) with two masts you can see on the picture below, but I couldn’t find English version of it.

Why brigs were so popular? Historically, they were seen as fast and manoeuvrable ships and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. Later, most of all brigs were used as small warships carrying about 10 to 24 guns. Due to their speed and manoeuvrability, they were popular among pirates (though they were rare among American and Caribbean pirates).

In the period between 1665 and 1685, there were few vessels with two square-rigged masts in the Carribean Sea as they were not fast enough to run away from frigates or not manoeuvrable enough to escape from line ships. However, they were cheaper and it was easier in use. So, merchants used them for trading goods in coastal waters and as the technology of shipbuilding improved, brigs became more and more popular. The next important usage of this ship type was in the exploration of new territories. The downsides of brigs weren’t significant in coastal waters, so many explorers chose this type of the ship. For example, brigs “St Peter” and “St Pavel” have opened a lot of new parts of Alaska.

On this note, we will finish, because in our setting and time period (1665-1730) brigs have been using only for the purposes of merchants and explorers. Your feedback about historical overviews is very important for me because I try to find a golden mean between difficult/dry facts and usefulness of this information for you as players. So, please write me about what you like or dislike and like the post if it is interesting for you.

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