Tall Ship Sailing in Historic St. Augustine, Florida

What’s A Tall Ship?

Class A Tall Ship Picton Castle

Quite frequently, we have passengers on board ask what makes us a tall ship or what is a tall ship. Tall ships have their own festivals, their own association, John Masefield wants one with only a star to steer her by. In this post we will explain what makes a tall ship a tall ship.
Quite simply put, a tall ship is large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. Over the years, four classes of tall ships have emerged, standardized and popularized by the organization Sail Training International: A, B, C, and D.
Class A
All square-rigged vessels (barque, barquentine, brig, brigantine or ship rigged) and all other vessel more than 40 metres Length Overall (LOA), regardless of rig. Sail Training International

Class A Tall Ship USCG Eagle

Class A Tall Ship USCG Eagle

classifies its A Class as “all square-rigged vessels and all other vessels over 40 metres (131 ft) length overall (LOA)”, in this case STI LOA excludes bowsprit and aft spar. Well known Class A vessels include the USS Constitution, the sail training ship the Picton Castle, and the United States Coast Guard’s sailing vessel the Eagle.

Photo by Erin Masters

Class B Tall Ship Freedom

Class B
Traditionally rigged vessels (i.e. gaff rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres. The Freedom is a class B vessel.

Ebb Tide

Class C Tall Ship Ebb Tide

Class C
Modern rigged vessels (i.e. Bermudan rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres not carrying spinnaker-like sails. An example of a Class C vessel is the Ebb Tide.
Class D
Modern rigged vessels (i.e. Bermudan rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres carrying spinnaker-like sails. An example of a Class D Vessel is the Rona II.

Class D Tall Ship Rona II

Class D Tall Ship Rona II

Class C and D were added as recently as 2011 and most purists still consider tall ships to be of Class A or B designation only, with the bone of contention being the traditional rigging.
A really neat tool, if you are into tall ships as much as well are is the Tall Ship Tracking Map. This will show you where a variety of tall ships are in the world, base on their last reported position. This by no means shows all of the tall ships in the world, but it is, nonetheless, super cool.