What are the differences between a dhow, a caravel, and a junk?

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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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A dhow is a traditional sailing vessel used by Arab countries.  It typically had one or more lateen sails.  "Lateen sails are triangular sails set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction."  These sailing vessels are still used today to carry cargo around coastal areas.

A caravel is a sailing vessel utilized by the Portuguese to carry cargo.  It typically had two or three lateen sails (which are mentioned above).  They were agile and easy to navigate.  They were used for oceanic exploration.

A junk is a traditional Chinese sailing vessel.  It was utilized to sail the oceans and for distance. It's sails have rigid members that span the width of the sail and extend the sail forward of the mast.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

A dhow, a caravel, and a junk are examples of sailing vessels. These vessels are very similar in many ways, yet there are some differences.

A junk is a Chinese sailing vessel although it could be used for other purposes. Unique features included a rudder, multiple masts, and water- tight hulls. These ships were aerodynamically advanced compared to other sailing vessels used at this time. These vessels sailed locally and around the world. The Chinese junks were used earlier than the dhow or the caravel.

The Arabs used the dhow. These sailing vessels had a double-ended hull. The sails were more triangular in shape than square in shape.

The caravel was a Portuguese sailing ship. These vessels were used to trade and to explore. Carracks were larger versions of the caravel. They were known for the speed and their ability to carry large cargoes.

Each of these ships had some similarities but also had some differences.


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