Numerous successful reprints of contemporary works on rigging and seamanship indicate the breadth of interest in the lost art of handling square-rigged ships. Model makers, marine painters, and enthusiasts need to know not only how the ships were rigged but how much sail was set in each condition of wind and sea, how the various maneuvers were carried out, and the intricacies of operations like reefing sails or 'catting' an anchor.
John Harland has provided what is undeniably the most thorough book on handling square-rigged ships. Because of his facility in a remarkable range of languages, Harland has been able to study virtually every manual published over the past four centuries on the subject. As a result, he is able to present for the first time a proper historical development of seamanship among the major navies of the world.