Reply To: Splinter Nets for Wooden Warships C. 1800
As to use in 17th century, Mainwaring’s Seaman’s Dictionary [full citation: The Sea-man’s Dictionary, Sir Henry Manwayring, written 1620-23, first published London 1640, facsimile 1972] gives this definition [page 70]:
‘Nettings are those small ropes which are seized together with rope yarns in the form of a net with meshes, and are for the most part only used in the waist (yet I have seen Flemings have
nettings over all, from the top of the forecastle
over the poop); and are stretched upon the ledges, which are placed from the waist-trees to the roof-trees. In merchantmen it is chiefly used
having a sail laid over it, for to shadow their men, and for a close fight; but I think they are in an error, for it is most dangerous for firing, of small defence if men enter, being quickly cut down, and being once torn down (as it may easily with small grapnels) it doth cloy all the waist. In a man-of-war it is good to have them for the pleasure and succour of the company [in foul weather or in extreme sunshine], but not to use them in fight.
Netting-sails are the sails which they lay upon the nettings.’
Fights or Close Fights were screens or waistcloths to keep the men hidden during a seafight.
“Sauve-Tête” seems to have been an English rather than a French term. The French word was “Casse-tête”. This is the word used on page 168 of the second edition of P-M-J Bonnefoux et Paris’ Dictionnaire de Marine à Voile et à Vapeur, Paris c.1859, giving the English equivalent as “Save tate”. “Sauve-garde” is the term used by other sources and better expresses the underlying idea. Bonnefoux (p.638) reserves this term for bowsprit netting, rudder pendants and entering-ropes.