Reply To: Sailing ship’s masts

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Malcolm Lewis

    Along with the need for bracing the yards on the foremast and the mainmast to sail the ship, as described by Frank Scott, being able to swing the yards independently without them conflicting with one another allowed the yards to be used for launching and recovering the ship’s boats. With stay tackles bent on to each yard and then to a cutter or launch the boats could be hoisted either from the chocks in the ship’s waist or recovered when alongside.
    The ability to lift heavy weights in this manner was essential to the functioning of the vessel. Not only could boats be handled using the yards but ship’s stores including water barrels and even live bullocks could be brought aboard in this manner. Shipping and unshipping gun barrels and their carriages was a regular task using the yards and stay tackles this way.
    Details of the manner in which boats were lowered and hoisted are described in John Harland’s ‘Seamanship in the age of sail’ pages 282-288.
    Malcolm Lewis