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File:Fleuten 1647.jpg
Dutch fluyts of the 17th Century

A fluyt, fluit, or flute (Dutch pronunciation: [flœy̯t])[p] is a Dutch type of sailing vessel originally designed as a dedicated cargo vessel. Originating from the Netherlands in the 16th century, the vessel was designed to facilitate transoceanic delivery with the maximum of space and crew efficiency. The inexpensive ship — which could be built in large numbers[1] — usually carried 12 to 15 cannons, but was still a somewhat easy target for pirates. Nonetheless, the fluyt was a significant factor in the 17th century rise of the Dutch seaborne empire.[2]

Ship design

The standard fluyt design minimized or completely eliminated its armaments to maximize available cargo space, and used block and tackle extensively to facilitate ship operations. This ship class was credited in enhancing Dutch competitiveness in international trade, and was widely employed by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries.[3] However, its usefulness caused the fluyt to gain such popularity that similar designs were soon developed by seagoing competitors of the Dutch.

The design of fluyts was largely similar to that of the early galleons. These ships typically weighed 200-300 tons and were approximately 80 feet in length (24.4 m). The pear-shaped vessel had a large cargo bay near the waterline and a relatively narrow deck above. In part, this design was a method used to avoid high taxes collected by Denmark in the Oresund, which was assessed based on area of the main deck. The fluyt was square rigged with two or three masts. Masts were much higher than those of galleons to allow for greater speed. At times fluyts were also armed and served as auxiliary vessels, which was a common practice in the Baltic Sea.


Model of the late 17th Century fluyt Derfflinger


  [p] - The word "fluyt" is pronounced "flight" similar to "guy" or "buy".[4]

  1. Boxer, CR (1965). The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600-1800. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 20. 
  2. Boxer, CR (1965). The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600-1800. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 68. 
  3. Boxer, CR (1965). The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600-1800. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 68. 
  4. "Vowels Working Together", ESLtoronto.net, 2009, web: ESL-T-vowels.

bg:Флейт cs:Flauta de:Fleute es:Filibote fr:Flûte (bateau) fy:Fluitskip ko:플류트 is:Flauta (skip) it:Fluyt hu:Fleute nl:Fluitschip ja:フリュート no:Fløyt pl:Fluita ru:Флейт fi:Flöitti tr:Filinta uk:Флейта (судно)