Sailing in the Second Degree

From Damien of Devotion

Within the Workings of the Second Degree we have a reference to a "Barque".

From listening carefully we can easily discern that a "Barque" is some type of ship or boat...

Sail Plans

The configuration of sails and masts of a ship or boat is called a Sail-Plan.

For large ships the sail-plan is a usually formal set of drawings ships prepared by a Naval Architect.

A sail-plan almost always include three configurations:

  • A light air sail plan to keep the ship underway in light breezes.

  • A working sail plan that can be changed rapidly in variable conditions. They are much stronger than the light air sails, but still lightweight, and allow the area of sail to be reduced in a stronger wind.

  • A storm sail plan -a set of very small and rugged sails flown in a gale to keep the vessel under way and in control.

In all sail plans, the architect attempts to balance the force of the sails against the drag of the keel in such a way that the vessel naturally points into the wind. In this way, if control is lost, the vessel will avoid broaching (turning edge-to-the wind), and being beaten by breaking waves. Broaching always causes uncomfortable motion and can destroy a lightly-built boat in a storm.

The architect also tries to balance the wind force on each sail plan against different loads and ballast to keep the ship upright.

This simple and single word "barque" in our Ritual introduces the allegory of a man trimming "his" sails according to wind and load perhaps symbolising the conditions and loads he carries in his life. It is examples like this which is why Freemasonry fully deserves the description of a system of allegory illustrated by symbols. A simple phrase can have a a lot of meaning.

It may also interest readers to know that in Egyptian Mythology a barque was also a boat in which the gods sailed. The Solar Barque of Ra carried a host of deities across the sky each day and through the Underworld every night.

These Egyptian Barques are something I will follow up next edition.

Frat Regards,



When talking ships you hear terms like "Cutter", "Yawl", "Ketch" and "Schooner" and I have always thought this was something to do with hulls and sails. Well, it turns out that masts - and the number and type of sails hung from them - is what makes a "Barque" a "Barque" and a "Ketch" a "Ketch"

The Polly Woodside & Freemasonry's Second Degree

Masonic Readers in Melbourne might be interested to know that The Polly Woodside is a three-masted iron barque. Launched in Belfast in 1885 she completed many long trips all over the world - rounding Cape Horn 16 times and seeing service in WW2. By 1968 (then renamed "Rona") she was the last square-rigged, deep water, commercial sailing ship still afloat in Australasia.She was noted for her beautiful lines and speed, being both fast for its size and class and capable in good conditions of traveling at up to 14 knots (c 26 km per hour)

The enchanting Polly Woodside, is a tangible reminder of Australia’s rich maritime history and of the importance of such ships to the settlement and development. In 2007, the ship was added to the Victorian Heritage Register and now enjoys the highest level of State heritage protection.