Is sailing a modern ship much different to sailing a sailing ship?
- Commanding (now called managing) the crew. The master still has to motivate the crew to work hard and work safely and do their jobs in a seamanlike way.
- Seamanship - handling the vessel in bad conditions, and knowing when and how to avoid those conditions when possible
- Answering to the owners - any decision that costs money (like speeding up to make a schedule, or diverting around bad weather) will have to be justified
- Communication - a sailing ship master might be out of touch with the owners for a year or more. A modern captain has to file daily reports and justify immediately any and all decisions she/he makes.
It's very different because modern commercial vessels:
1) are much safer and more seaworthy.
2) are able to sail in any direction at relatively high speeds irrespective of the wind speed or direction.
3) are equipped with navigational instruments that tell them exactly where they are at all times.
4) have access to weather information warning them of storms long before the arrive.
5) have generators that deliver electrical power!
6) finally, losing the vast expanse of sail means that seaman don't have to risk their lives by going aloft to shorten sail in (possibly very) bad conditions.