Schooner, a vessel rigged with fore and aft sails, properly with two masts, but now often with three, four and sometimes more masts; they are much used in the coasting trade, and require a smaller crew in proportion to their size than squarerigged vessels(continued below)
According to the story, which is probably true, the name arose from a chance spectators exclamation there she scoons, i.e. glides, slips free, at the launch of the first vessel of this type at Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1713, her builder being one Andrew Robinson. The spelling schooner is due to a supposed derivation from the Dutch schooner, but that and the other European equivalents, Ger. Schoner, Dan. skonnert, Span. and Portuguese escuna, &c., are all from English. To scoon, according to Skeat, is a Scottish (Clydesdale) dialect word, meaning to skip over water like a flat stone, and is ultimately connected with the root, implying quick motion, seen in shoot, scud, &c. In American colloquial usage schooner is applied to the covered prairie-wagons used by the emigrants moving westward before the construction of railways, and to a tall, narrow, lager-beer glass.
"SCHOONER." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.
Another favorite of the Caribbean and Atlantic pirates was the similarly sized two-masted schooner. With many of the prized features of the sloop such as terrific speed, maneuverability, and gun capacity, this sleek American variant was developed in the 1700's with a narrower hull and a shallower draft of only 5 feet. This meant it could effortlessly take a full load and 75-man crew further inland to hide or to divide the spoils, but diminished hold capacity meant fewer spoils to be had when you arrived.
See also our page about all pirate ships.