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bark or barque (both: bärk) [key], sailing vessel with three masts, of which the mainmast and the foremast are square-rigged while the mizzenmast is fore-and-aft-rigged. Although the word was once used to mean any small boat, later barks were sometimes quite large (up to 6,000 tons). In addition to the standard three-masted bark there are also four-masted barks (fore-and-aft-rigged on the aftermast) and barkentines, or three-masted vessels with the foremast square-rigged and the other masts fore-and-aft-rigged. Large numbers of barks were employed in carrying wheat from Australia to England before World War I; and in 1926 the bark Beatrice sailed from Fremantle, Western Australia, to London in 86 days.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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