Nancy Fulton


photographs of a square rigger


I had the wonderful opportunity to sail as a passenger on a three-masted square-rigger. Our first day at sea, the deck crew climbed high onto the yards and loosened the sails. On deck, they pulled on the downhauls. With a rush, warm winds pushed the sails against the buntlines and the ship thrust forward.

I was taken with the beauty and complexity of this ship, and the knowledgeable, nimble crew. It takes three weeks for a crew member to learn the name and function of each line.

Wind and Sails explores the abstract qualities of the sails, gear and innumerable lines necessary to a hand-sailed square-rigger, and the light on those sails as they catch the wind. There is a bit of history in traveling on a traditionally rigged barque. The interaction between the winds, water currents, sailcloth, rigging, ship and crew is both complex and mysterious.