Belgian barquentine Mercator
TypeSailing rig
Place of originNorthwest Europe and America

A barquentine or schooner barque (alternatively "barkentine" or "schooner bark") is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts.

Modern barquentine sailing rig

Barquentine sail plan

While a full-rigged ship is square-rigged on all three masts, and the barque is square-rigged except for the mizzen-mast, the barquentine extends the principle by making only the foremast square-rigged.[1] The advantages of a smaller crew, good performance before the wind and the ability to sail relatively close to the wind while carrying plenty of cargo made it a popular rig at the end of the nineteenth century.

Today, barquentines are popular with modern tall ship and sail training operators as their suite of mainly fore-and-aft sails improve non-downwind performance, while their foremast of square sails offers long distance downwind speed and dramatic appearance in port.


The term "barquentine" is seventeenth century in origin, formed from "barque" in imitation of "brigantine", a two-masted vessel square-rigged only on the forward mast, and apparently formed from the word brig.[Note 1][2]

Historic and modern examples

Painting of Mercator by Yasmina


  1. ^ Although in fact the term "brig" was a shortening of "brigantine", and for much of the sixteenth to eighteenth century the two terms were synonymous.


  1. ^ "Sailing ship rigs, an infosheet guide to classic sailing rigs". Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  2. ^ T F Hoad, ed. (1993). Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-19-283098-2.
  3. ^ "Barquentine "New Endeavour"". 8 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Svanen web page". Sail Australia. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Thor-Heyerdahl". Segelschiff Thor Heyerdahl gemeinnützige Fördergesellschaft mbH. Retrieved 27 December 2012.