Here’s a bit of old history. The xebec is a Mediterranean sailing ship common from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
These ships were small and fast, thus ideal for use in warfare or by pirates. They were useful in raids.
The Spanish and French Navy used these vessels in the 1700’s. The early boats had two masts and the later ones three. In wartime, the ship could hold up to 400 men and 16-40 guns depending on its size. In peacetime, this ship could transport merchandise.
Drawing of xebec
Xebecs were equipped with a lateen rig (large triangular sail mounted at an angle to the mast). This allowed the vessel to “tack against the wind” and gave it an advantage when maneuvering around other ships or making a fast getaway. The bow and stern extended in length over the hull giving the boat a lot of area for sails. The sails could also be lowered quickly for passage under bridges.
Because of the lateen rig on the xebec, they were most useful in the
Mediterranean Sea. Square sails served better when sailing in
the Atlantic Ocean due to the wind.
The Portuguese also used these vessels for long distance exploration.
So there you have it. I bet this is something you didn’t know about history.