A type of rig of a small sailing boat or yacht, apparently an adaptation of the Dutch word jol, or skiff. The true yawl rig consists of two masts, cutter rigged (in the English meaning of the word) on the foremast, with a small mizzen-mast stepped abaft the rudder head carrying a sail. However, the term refers more to the position of the masts than to the particular rig they carry, and thus a sailing boat with masts stepped as above but sloop rigged on the foremast would also be termed a yawl. The rig is very similar to a ketch, the difference being the position in which the mizzen is stepped. Until about the mid-19th century, the term was also occasionally used for a ship's boat rowed by four or more oars, but this use of it is now obsolete.
Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.