As I promised, here is the first proper post on the Encyclopedia category, not in alphabetical order, but very appropriate.
A yacht is a recreational boat or ship. The term originated from the Dutch “Jacht” meaning “hunt”. It was originally defined as a light fast sailing vessel used by the Dutch navy to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into the shallow waters of the Low Countries. After its selection by Charles II of England as the vessel to carry him to Britain from Holland for his restoration in 1660, it came to be used to mean a vessel used to convey important persons. – cf Wikipedia
Today, the term designates just the leisure purpose, and they are generally perceived as luxury recreational vessels, classified in two main categories, sailing and motor, or power boats.
The lengths range from 7 meters (23 ft) to more than a hundred meters. The largest sailing yacht, for sample, is 109.52 m (359 ft), and it was launched in 1931. The largest motor yacht in the world was launched in 2013, and is 180 m (590 ft). Impressive. They are called superyachts, or megayachts.
Modern yachts have efficient sail-plans, most notably the Bermuda rig, that allow them to sail close to the wind. Now they can classify in:
Day sailing yachts, which are small and can’t provide overnight facilities.
Weekender yachts are slightly larger, designed to undertake short journeys, rarely lasting more than 2 or 3 days. They usually have only a simple cabin, often consisting of a single “saloon” with bedspace for two to four people. There is limited space for stores of water and food.
Cruising yachts are the most used, can be quite complex in design, and will usually have several cabins below deck.
A yacht may also be a “cruiser-racer”, which as the name implies is a blend between the cruiser and racing variants. This is often a builder’s existing design with changes to the rigging, sails, keel and controls to provide better performance. Some of the interior appointments may be reduced or removed to save weight.
Most large yachts, 16 m (52 ft) and up, are also cruisers, but their design varies greatly as they are often “one off” designs tailored to the specific needs of the buyer.
Luxury sailing yachts are generally 25 m and over, and they have evolved into sophisticated and luxurious boats, every modern convenience, from air conditioning to television, is found. Sailing yachts of this size are often highly automated with, for example, computer-controlled electric winches controlling the sails. Such complexity requires dedicated power-generation systems.
Racing yachts are built for competition and for pure speed. They try to reduce the wetted surface area, which creates drag, by keeping the hull light whilst having a deep and heavy bulb keel, allowing them to support a tall mast with a great sail area. Modern designs tend to have a very wide beam and a flat bottom aft, to provide buoyancy preventing an excessive heel angle and to promote surfing and planning. Speeds of up to 35 knots can be attained in extreme conditions.
The main force being the wind, sailing is more economical and environmentally friendly than any other means of propulsion. A typical vessel is a motor sailing yacht that can use either sail or propulsion (or both) as conditions dictate.
Monohull yachts are typically fitted with a fixed keel or a centreboard (adjustable keel) below the waterline to counterbalance the overturning force of wind on the vessel’s sails. Multihull yachts use two (catamarans) or three (trimarans) hulls widely separated from each other to provide a stable base that resists overturning.
Motor yachts can be classified almost in the categories as sailing yachts.
Day cruiser yacht (no cabin, sparse amenities)
Weekender yacht (one or two basic cabins, basic galley appliances and plumbing)
Cruising yacht (sufficient amenities to allow for living aboard for extended periods)
Sport fishing yacht (yacht with living amenities and sporting fishing equipment)
Luxury yacht (similar to the last three types of yachts, with more luxurious amenities)
Even the hull types are the same.
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