The older navigation by utilizing the power of the wind demands a very intimate knowledge of these conditions, and it is probable that a revival of sailing ships may in the present century vastly increase the importance of the study of maritime meteorology.
The coast-line of both main islands is deeply indented and many of the bays and inlets form secure and well-protected harbours, some of which, however, are difficult of access to sailing ships.
In 1907 there were (exclusive of fishing vessels) 470 sailing ships with a tonnage of 2 71,661, and 610 steamers with a tonnage of 1,256,449.
In 1875 1568 sailing ships and 698 steamers (with a total of 740,731 tons) entered and 1588 sailing ships and 700 steamers (with a total of 756,807 tons) cleared this port; in 1883 3379 sailing and 1126 steam vessels (with a total of 1,056,201 tons) entered and 3276 sailing and 1120 steam vessels (with a total of 960,229 tons) cleared.
The days of sailing ships from China had not entirely passed, and the steamers of the period were built for rapidity of transit to London.