SLOOP, a type of small sailing-vessels which have one mast rigged fore and aft, carrying a mainsail, gaff-topsail, jib and fore staysail.(continued below)
There is little in rig to distinguish a sloop from a cutter, and the terms are used indiscriminately; sometimes a distinction is drawn by a sloop having a fixed and a cutter a running bowsprit. In the sailing and early steam days of naval warfare, a sloop was a small corvette, ship-rigged, with all the guns mounted on the upper deck. Like so many nautical terms the word was borrowed from the Dutch, viz. sloep, boat. This is generally taken to be an adaptation of the Fr. chaloupe, Span. and Port. c/ialupa, cf. Ital. scialuppa, Eng. shallop, a light boat. These probably represent some native word borrowed by Spanish or Portuguese sailors in the East or American Indies. Other etymologists distinguish the Dutch and French words and refer sloep to the common Teutonic root, meaning to glide, to creep, seen in slip, Ger. schleifen, schliefcn, etc.
"SLOOP." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.
Pirate Sloop Ship, Sloop Sailboat Info: Pirate's Realm
The favorite little wonder boat of Caribbean and Atlantic pirates in the late 1600's was first produced in large numbers by master builders in Jamaica, and the Bermudans augmented her one-mast design later in the 1700's. It was usually rigged for a large fore-and-aft mainsail, but could easily be altered for various sail combinations, the huge bowsprit adding more canvas area for maneuverability.
Having a length of 30 to 60 feet and a top speed of over 10 knots, a crew of 20 to 70 men could easily maneuver this father of today's sailing yacht for quick in-and-out surprise attacks, avoiding broadsides and outrunning pursuit. With the pirate sloop weighing as much as 100 tons and having maybe 15 cannons, its draft was still very shallow at eight feet and allowed it to find refuge in shallower waters far beyond the reach of any warship. This also was the reason that those commissioned to hunt out pirates often chose the sloop to gain access to their hiding spots.
See also our page about all pirate ships.