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June 28, 2015 History, Sailing, York River

Sloops of War

People ask while sailing the York River how Gen. George Washington could communicate with Admiral Francoise DeGrasse in the Caribbean to get the French fleet here. Much it was done by letters sent by couriers on single-mast sloops that could go faster than conventional warships. Frigates with two masts were sloops, and the most famous early sloop was the USS Constitution, but not until 1854. The sloop is advanced because it can sail close to the wind, employing the scientific principle of pulling the boat through the wind instead of pushing it like boats of yore (think Godspeed). Today’s modern sailboats are sloops.

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