OBBI 300930Z 30014KT CAVOK 27/10 Q1016 NOSIG
Far before the advent of Science, humans have long forged a logical culture of knowledge balanced on the fine edge of survival and need. Pivotal to this global culture, with its incomparable ability to propagate relevant information then wield the knowledge within, was Arabia.
Arabia might have not been the most innovative, but its historical efforts can be traced directly in ensuring the progress of human knowledge. Of the many treasures Arabia preserved for Humanity, The Arab Sail stands tall yet rarely recognized.
The human utility of Wind to propel vessels was quick in global adaption but was initially used as an aid rather than a main source of propulsion. We as humans knew how to capture wind, but didn't have the means to control its power. Human rowing power was the only way to ensure propulsion and control, rudders were also used but they were nothing more than elongated oar paddles aiding in control.
Primitively, short water crossings were aided with ropes or long polls to move the floating vessel from one end to the other. Oar propulsion became common but was limited in power by the endurance of its crew. With Wind, the constant current provided an ease in transport, so long as one travels along with it, limiting directional control.
Arabia initially adopted the sail from its neighbors, manly India and the Mediterranean. Commonly at that time, dominant cultures had large Galley Ships for trade and conflict. They were mainly powered by rowing, some incorporated large square sails to capture the wind and speed them along.
Arabs at that time used smaller vessels similar in size to today’s [ Dhows | داو ] for trade and commerce. The Square Rigs adapted form India and the Mediterranean empowered trade in the area linking east to west. The waters in the region were another aiding factor, relatively calm and manageable they were favored by all travelers. Evident in Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian drawings, logistically Arabia was long established as a center for trade.
Around 600 BC Arabs started to play with the shape and positions of the Sails. Realizing that a tapered square sail behaves oddly favorable when facing the wind. Still quadrilateral in shape, the Arabs were quick to adopt the new design creating the Settee Sail. Further development was quick, incorporating a Keel, Spritsail and Foresail for more speed, control, and stability.
It seems that the more triangular the shape of the sail was, the more control they had. Not only that, the boats were able to maneuver at an angle against the wind, enabling them to zigzag upwind, a maneuver commonly known today as[ Tacking | تتبع ].
This was a huge leap for humanity, a technological gain that broke our mooring bonds to Land. Humans are now able to travel the Seas in a controlled manner regardless of the wind. Directly resulting in the expansion of humanity and the age of exploration.
Essentially, the triangle sails created an [ Airfoil | جناح حامل ] that mimics today's modern wing design. The inflated triangular sail created [ Lift | قوة رفع ] in a lateral form, pulling the vessel forward, much like a wing creates lift upwards. In Fact, this was the first time in recorded history that humans utilize the forces produced by the curved shape in propulsion.
The idea was quick to spread and found its many adaptations throughout the centuries. Oddly enough the final true triangular shape is widely known as a [ Lateen Sail | الشراع الاتيني ], referring to the Roman Culture. This could be a case of dominant cultures, or it could be that the Romans popularized it by building it best, with their powerful and massive Trireme and Dromon ships.
The word Lateen can be argued to be Arab in root. The Latin tongue does not pronounce its name in the same manner, and Lateen is more of an Arabic pronunciation referring to the Roman Culture. Also, many components of a Lateen Sail maintain names derived from Arabic. “Meszzana Mast” referring to a balancing Mast is an obvious word that refers to the Arabic word [ Mezaan | ميزان ] meaning scale or balance.
Today we all but mastered this Airfoil shape, our sails have never been more efficient in manipulating wind forces to our leisure. Paragliders use the shape to move forward, Kites use it to go higher, we even manipulate the shape to serve our energy needs.
In obvious truth, the young age of Aviation is clearly tethered with the West. Historically, cultures presented countless aviation visionaries, many of which paid the ultimate price trying to realize their weightless dream.
Orville and Wilbur Wright somehow figured out what generations before failed to identify, enabling them the title of first in flight. Greek Icarus Flew too close, Persian Kay Kavus crashed his flying throne, and [ Abbas ibn Firnas | عباس بن فرناس ] almost broke his back in his attempt of flight. It is fair to state that Arabia missed the boat on this revelation of Knowledge, but the connection of the Arabia's Culture is undeniably pinnacle.
As with many innovations in flight, a large percentage is derived from the extensive catalog of Maritime knowledge. Communication, Regulations, Navigation, Design & Function are all factors long resolved by Sailors and their Captains. In fact, if it wasn't for seafaring humans, the progress of human knowledge would still be “retarded” at best.
Thank you Arabia!