The Masts and Spars

It is well to have some idea of the placing of masts on the full-rigged ship. Though builders will generally take the mast-positions from the plan, a handy formula for the fixing of the masts will not come amiss.

The following proportions were taken from a particularly beautiful plate, and were found to work excellently when applied to a model. The placing of the masts was pleasing to the eye; and the balance obtained could not possibly be bettered. But, of course, many things besides the happy placing of masts enter into the question of good sailing.

Sail plan (22K)

Model Full-Rigged Ship
A three skysail yarder, with single topsails and single topgallants.
Showing method of setting stays, bowlines and braces.
Starboard side only. Staysail Halyards omitted.

Deck plan (6K)

A -- Mizzen Yard (or Crojick)
B -- Main Yard
C -- Fore Yard
D -- Approx midship position
E -- Starboard Fore Brace
F -- " Main Brace
G -- " Crojick Brace
H -- " Fore Bowline
H1 -- " " (hung up)
I -- Channels for Backstays
J -- Steering Gear
K -- After Hatch
L -- Main Hatch (with handle under)
M -- The Stoppers to prevent ship crashing


Builders fitting out old schooners and steamers as full-rigged ships may use the formula with confidence. Some of the best sailing ships ever rigged were converted steam kettles.

Get the length of the Line of Flotation, as it would be for a side elevation. Get the half-way points of it on either line of the ship; and mark off a line across the main deck, as it may be, to join those two points. That is your Middle Line. It will cross the Centre Line of your ship, which is drawn from bow to stern.

To get the position of your mainmast, mark off from the Middle Line, AFT, along the Centre Line a distance equal to One-twentieth of the Line of Flotation. That will give you the position of your main mast.

To get the position of the foremast, mark off FORWARD OF THE MIDDLE LINE (not the mainmast) a distance along the Centre Line equal to three-tenths of the Line of Flotation. That will give you the position of your foremast.

Your mizzen mast will come exactly half-way between your mainmast and the stern rail of the ship.

You will find that mast-positions vary on different plans. Sometimes the mizzen mast is nearer the stern than to the mainmast, and sometimes the mainmast is only just behind the Middle Line. But, in my opinion, the positions given please the eye best; and, from experience, I can honestly say that they gave splendid results. It must be remembered, however, that other factors oome in--the steering system, for instance, the sail-plan, the beam, and the contours of the hull.

So far as looks go, I have seen nothing to beat the beautiful proportion of the sailing ship, from the plate of which I worked out these proportions for the placing of masts.

For good appearanoe, the bowsprit, jibboom, and flying-jibboom, should come off the bows of the ship at an angle of 21 degrees FROM THE LINE OF FLOTATION; reaching out nearly one third of the length of the line of flotation beyond the stemhead.

In this conneotion it is to be hoped that builders will avoid the wretched little stump bowsprit of the later multi-masted barques, and the depressing row of masts all on a dead level. A representation of the Freneh five-master, "La France," lies beside me as I write; and it gives me the Willies. If that is indeed a true representation of the vessel then all I can say is -- "What a horrible monstrosity !" Such a bald-headed, snub-nosed, squat, and monotonous growth was surely never seen in square rig ! Only the multi-masted American schooner can give it points in ugliness.

If we are going to build windjammers, Gentlemen, let them be the real old sailing-ships, surely the loveliest creations that ever moved upon the waters! And there need be no loss of efficiency with the beauty.

With the proportions for the four-masted barque, I have not space to deal. I can, however give the bare particulars of the mast-positions on my own barque, "CICELY FAIRFAX, " which seem to serve splendidly, after being frequently moved farther and farther aft. They might be instructive to others.

They are as follows -- stemhead to foremast, on deck, 18ins. Foremast to mainmast, 12ins. Mainmast to mizzen mast, 14ins. Mizzen mast to jigger mast, 10ins. Jigger mast to stern, 11iins. Length of the line of flotation, 58 to 60ins. The mainmast lies 4 1/2 ins., forward of the middle line.

The proportions do not please quite so well as those of the full-rigged ship; but on the efficiency there is no doubt whatever. The "CICELY FAIRFAIX" is the most consistently successful windjammer in the Scarborough Club. It should be added that the bowsprit and jibboom reach out 16ins., past the stemhead, while the spanker boom stretches 7ins., over the stern. This gives a total length, jibboom-tip to spanker-boom tip of 89ins.; too great, I am sorry to say, to allow of this vessel entering the proposed National Windjammer Races.

The weight of this barque is 92 lbs: and she draws 10iins. of water, carrying, in full panoply, over forty sails.

And now I come to the point where the old shell-backs will growl at me. I advocate putting into your ships SINGLE PIECE masts. I am sorry gentlemen; but all those cherished fittings of the sailing-ship, hounds, mast-gaps, tops, shrouds and ratlines, cross-trees and what-not, had better go overboard right away. They mean top-weight, and the sailor-like way of dealing with them is to pitch them over the side, with the Dead Horse. If you smash a mast on Friday night, it is advisable to be able to fit another by 2-30 on the following afternoon, after dinner. We shall not spoil the beauty of the ship on the water by fitting single-piece masts, and by throwing overboard the Dead Horse.

Now for the spars. Let us get back to the full-rigged ship. We have stepped some plain dowel-rods for masts. How do we place the yards, and how long are they to be ?

Start with your main-yard, always. It oan be taken as an axiom at once that your main-yard will be somewhere about twice the beam of your ship. A little less is alright; but you will find that long yards give the best results, low down.

Higher up, it is different. For prettiness, and for easing the ship, it is well to shelve in considerably. Your main royal yard can be taken as being just about as long as your beam. With these two bases, as it were, you may quickly get your yards made to the right length, the main yards first then the fore-yards; and lastly yonr mizzen yards; the length of your yards decreasing gradually as you go up.

Your main-yard hangs just about one beam up the main mast, from the deck. Your upper-topsail yard hangs just about one beam above THAT your lower topsail yard coming half-way.

Your top-gallant yard hangs two-thirds of the beam above the upper-topsail yard; and the royal yard just short of half a beam above that. If you are going in for skysails, and a moonsail on the main, you will carry on towards the stars in like fashion.

Having cut all your yards for the main-mast, get them slung on the cranes in the places they are to occupy, which you have already marked off on the mast. The simplest form of crane you can possibly have, and, in my opinion THE BEST, is simply a large brass screw eye, half an inch in size across the eye; which eye is turned to the horizontal position when screwed in.

Screw this into the mast at the right height after making a suitable hole with a bradawl. Then put a small brass screw eye bang in the middle of your yard, open the eye with your pliers, and hang your yard on the large screw eye just put into the mast. You will find that the yard will now swing round, to and fro, through a large arc, the smaller screw-eye sliding along quite easily suspended by, and inside of, the large one. If you have shaped the yard truly, and put the small screw-eye-bang in the middle of it, it will hang square upon the mast. All cranes, of course, to be on the forward side.

As you have done with the main yard, do also with the others, going up the mast methodically, using smaller screw-eyes for the cranes as the mast becomes more slender. If well done, these simple cranes, trusses, and yard-slings combined will stay put, through fair and through foul, giving every satisfaction. Yard-lifts will be unnecessary; parrels will not be needed; and all vou have to do, when you wish to take off the yard, and the sail below it, is to hook it off the crane.

The sails being attached permanently to the yards, each to its own yard, and as the sails are simply held down at the clews by strong loops which fit over the ends of the yard below, sails can easily be whipped off, or restored, when sailing.

Your fore-yards will hang slightly lower, and be slightly shorter than the main yards. The mizzen yards also hang slightly lower than the main yards at the crojick; but as they are to carry smaller sails than either fore or main mast, the distances between them diminish rather rapidly; so that the mizzen-royal yard hangs just a tiny bit higher than the main top-gallant yard.

The mizzen mast, of course, is much shorter than the main; while the fore-mast is just a little shorter than the main.

Having made your yards and slung them all on their vanes, marking them all with cuts, so that you know where they belong, you may now measure up for your sails, the HEAD of each squaresail being just one inch shorter than the yard which is to support it.

The mizzen-yards, of course, are smaller even than the foreyards, and should all diminish in size agreeably with the fore and main yards. You will now be able to measure your sails exaotly, the yards being there to give you exact measurements, and the right depth for each square-sail. It is important to get a good fit; so that when the sails shrink slightly with the rain, the whole pile of sail on each mast pans together like a thing in one piece. Flat sails, and a tight leach, mean good sailing to windward.


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