Reply To: Anchoring HMS Victory

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Frank Scott

    Use of Covers or Unbending the cable would have depended on the situation.
    While operating on blockade duty, in relatively confined waters (e.g. the Baltic), or on near coastal passages, when anchoring might be required at short notice, then the covers would have been used.
    By contrast for long ocean passages the cable would have been totally unbent and pipes sealed to make the ship that much drier and more comfortable for the crew in heavy weather. Towards the end of the passage it would all have been connected up again. This would not have been a sudden evolution, but one programmed well ahead and executed in reasonable weather.
    Obviously a messenger would have been employed, this almost goes without saying.
    As late as 1949, when the last two Erikson barques (Pamir and Passat) made passage from Australia, it was the custom to unbend the (chain) cable and seal the pipes, once clear of the coast, and reverse this procedure towards the end of the passage. From the many books that I have read, and conversations with veterans of those days (such as the late Capt. Martin Lee), I think that this can be said to have been the common procedure for sailing merchant ships, even with chain cable.

    Obviously the smaller the ship, the easier this would have been, and before the size growth that came with iron and steel few merchant ships were anywhere near as large as ships-of-the-line.