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Answered 2005-08-07 16:02:24

Depends which way the wind was blowing! With the wind behind you, no problem. With the wind against you, 4 possibilities: 1) Tack; most vessels, especially if fore-and-aft rigged, which river boats usually were, can sail at a wide angle into the wind; in a wide river, one can thus go from side to side, put about and go back towards the other side, constantly gaining headway. 2) Club-hauling. Sail across the wind, getting up speed; at the end of the run, drop all sails, turn upwind, and coast for as long as possible. Then up sails and do it all again. 3) If the worst comes to the worst, kedging. Put a small anchor in a boat, send the boat upstream to the length of your cable, drop the anchor, haul in on the cable until you reach the anchor. Meanwhile, the boat has gone ahead with another anchor, and the process can be repeated. 4) If the river is not very wide, tow with horses or oxen (or, in many cases, the wife) from the bank. On particularly fast-flowing rivers, like the Dordogne in France, you simply didn't sail upstream. You built a raftlike boat at the headwaters, loaded it with trade goods, floated down the river, and at the mout sold the trade gooda AND the timber from which the boat was made. Then you got on the horse you'd taken with you and went home.

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