8. Rigging the Ship Part 2

Rigging the ship part 2

Once the yards are all in place, the “gear” is rigged.  Square sails hang from yards.  They have various lines called clewlines, buntlines, and leachlines which all haul the sail up to the yard to bunch it  up under the yard when you don’t want it set.  When you set the sail, these lines must all be released, to let the sail fall, and lines called sheets are hauled in to pull the bottom corners of the sail down to the yard below.  All of these lines were rigged by the professional crew before we bent on (attached) the sails to the yards.
To bend a sail onto a yard, the sail is hauled up to the yard in a long bundle and then pulled out along the yard by crew on the yard.  It is attached at the top corners by lashings, and then the top edge of the sail is lashed to the yard with heavy twine called robands.  The Clewlines, bunts and leach lines are then attached to the sail.

In these pictures people are lashing the mainsail to the main yard.  After the sail is lashed on, it is furled by rolling it in a tight bundle and tying it to the yard with spiraled lines called gaskets.  The woman in the second picture is finishing tying the gaskets on the foresail in the foreground.

As we have assembled the rigging and bent on the sails, we have spent time almost every day learning what the lines do, and practicing using them.  With these drills we are slowly learning how it all works.

If all of this seems complicated and confusing, it is.  Everything has a new and strange name, which must be learned, and the rigging is an intricate web. Watching the spars, rigging, and sails of the Picton Castle be put together, and participating in it has been a tremendous learning experience. I am learning a great deal about the details of how a square-rigged ship is put together, and how it works.  Yes, it is an arcane art, but it is one that fascinates me and which I want to learn.


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