from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A light yard used to extend the head of a square-cut gaff-topsail: common on English yachts.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Squaring her head-yards, the brig dropped her mainsail, braced her cross jack-yard sharp aback, put her helm a-weather and got sternway, while her after sails and helm kept her to the wind.
Then the wind gradually veered until we were not only enabled to lay our course, but had it a couple of points free, when, the wind being light, our big jack-yard gaff-topsail came into play with magnificent effect, pushing the little hooker along at about six knots, when but for it she would scarcely have done four.
But what gratified him most of all, I think, was the fact that before we had been aboard two days I had got Simpson, the sailmaker, at work upon an enormous jack-yard gaff-topsail for use in light winds, the only gaff-topsail that the schooner had hitherto possessed being a trumpery little jib-headed affair which she could carry in quite a strong breeze.
"Quite true, sir, in name, but your honor will recollect the spanker is nothing but a fore-and-aft course, rigged to a mast, instead of to a jack-yard, as it used to be."