Most books on Clipper Ship Building give a very clear idea of the standing rigging required, and it is not on this part of the subject that I should be disposed seriously to quarrel with them. Except that I advise doing without side stays, or shrouds, I say go ahead with your rigging from such a book, at this stage.
But of what I consider to be really practical systems of fitting the running rigging, and working the sails, I have seen not one in any of the books I have come across. That, of course, is not to say that there is no book published which gives a simple and practical method of fitting and handling the sails. I say, I have not seen one yet.
I had hoped to deal with the sails in this article, but I find that the disposition of the standing rigging has a very vital part to play in the success of any system of rigging and sail-handling. I had better deal with it, therefore, rather more fully than I had intended to do.
Steering Gear and some other details of Fittings for Model Ships.
I will lay my finger upon the vital point at once by saying that your lower courses will have to carry booms, or stretchers, at the foot, to simplify the working, and to enable you to point well up into the wind, with all sail set. This fact alone makes shrouds an intolerable nuisance, since these booms would rest upon the shrouds when the yards were turned at but a very small angle from the 'thwartships or squared position. If you feel that you cannot dispense with shrouds, which add so very greatly to the beauty of a model on the study table, by all means go ahead and set them up, but you will find that when you wish to sail you will be compelled to furl your lower courses when beating to windward, since otherwise you would be continually going aback. The loose foot of the lower course of the real sailing ship is a very tedious nuisance on the model, and means quite a large amount of unnecessary adjustment when sailing.
You must have booms for simplicity of handling, and, having booms, you must dispense with shrouds,so that those booms may swing through a big arc with the yards above them.
How, then, shall our masts be stayed ? Well, I find that the backstays and forestays, with the natural strength of the mast, are quite sufficient in any weather.
Each mast will have at least three backstays -- the lower mast backstay, the topmast backstay, and the topgallant mast backstay, it being understood, of course, that each backstay means a pair of baekstays, one to port and one to starboard. They should be fitted with stiff-pulling bowsies, so that they may be tightened up or slackened at will in a very few minutes.
They should hook on at either end, to the mast cap concerned aloft and to the channel or rack on deck below. Where you have so much rigging it is essential, when travelling, to be able to dismantle the ship easily. I have dismantled the " Cicely Fairfax " in twenty minutes, and set up the masts and rigging again at the other end of the journey, with all plain sail up, in forty minutes, and no hurry about it. Bowsprit and jibboom come off in one piece.
With single-piece masts, of course, you put a screw-eye at the places where the mast-caps would come if your mast were built up.
But it is very important that your channels, or points of attachment on deck, should be well inboard, thus giving the yards and booms ample room at all times to swing through a big arc. That is essential for good sailing to windward. You must be able to jam your yards very far round when close-hauled, right on to the backstays. It follows that the farther in the backstays ane on the deck, the farther round will your yards and booms swing and the higher you will be able to point up to windward with perfect safety.
It is amazing what a square-rigged ship can do when this point is properly seen to. Your back stays must not run down to the bulwarks, but must be right inboard, as near as may be convenient to your hatches and deckhouses. Of oourse, if your masts are wide apart it may not be necessary to take the channels far inboard; but with ordinary sailing ship proportions it is necessary to place the channels well inboard, in such a way that all the yards and booms rest lightly upon the backstays together. Your backstays then form a cushion on which the booms and lower yards may rest, thus ensuring that the yards shall at no time be pressed absolutely fore and aft when close-hauled.
The forestays are soon disposed of. They also should be fitted with hooks and bowsies for quick dismantling and tightening up. It is not advisable to have staysails and jibs running up and down on these stays, as they do on the real ship. That idea is not practioal on the model. These sails should have their own halyards permanently attached to them, with bowsie fittings and hooks where required. To set a staysail, you will then hook on the forefoot at the proper sorew-eye, run the halyard up the mast to the other screw-eye concerned, hook it on by the sliding hook, and bring it down again to the channel of that particular mast on deck. Hook it. Tighten up your bowsie, and attach your sheet to the clew of the staysail. Upper staysail halyards run down to the port channels. Lower staysail halyards, or jib halyards run down to the starboard ohannels. These ohannels will thus be your fife-rails and pin-rails also, for it is necessary that all halyards should be kept clear of the yards and booms.
Remember the old sailing ship adage .. a place for everything. everything in its place. Every separate halyard and backstay should have its own hole in the channel, held there by its own hook. You should be able to find any partioular halyard at once, even in the dark.
Now what about these channels ? It is obvious that they are a very important part of the scheme of things, since they have to hold all the backstays and halyards clear of the yards and booms forward of them, and the yards and booms aft of them. Their placing is a matter for great care and circumspection, since they can be in the way of the spars behind them, as well as of those in front. The best way is finally to place them when you have all your sails made and attached to their yards. By swinging the yards and booms on each mast in turn, you can then see just where your channels are least in the way. Of course, it is likely that these positions will be just about half-way between two masts, but not necessarily so. The channels, of course, are screwed down.
What are these channels? They are simply sheet-brass bent into angle iron, so to speak. They need to be about 1 1/2" long on a fairsized ship, and the upright flange should stand up from the deek about 3/8". Through this upright flange is drilled a number of holes to take the backstay and halyard hooks. The channel, of course, is placed with its length in the fore and aft direction, and it is always best to have more holes in it than you require -- for emergenoies. It is the handiest gadget on the whole ship, since not only is it the ship's fiferail, pin-rail, cleat, channel and what-not, but it is useful as a point of attachment for sundry intermediate staysail sheets.
If you make these channels of a comfortable size, with fair holes through the upright flange, you will have the less fiddling about when your hands are frozen.
Each mast will need two channels, which, of course, will lie considerably behind their own particular mast, one to port and one to starboard. It is well to have other similar ehannels on the poop and on the forecastle. They are very useful for the hooking-on of braces and bowlines. There should be no attachments outside the ship, except those for the bobstay and martingale backstays. All shrouds, backstays, braces and suchlike should be hooked on to channels or racks placed well inboard. You don't want them sweeping away in collisions, and you do not want them to be a brake on the ship by trailing in the water when she is making heavy weather of it.
All lines, forestays and backstays, need watching on wet racing days. My experience is that they tighten up very much, imposing a considerable strain on the masts, pulling them into all sorts of queer shapes. Whether this is because I always rub beeswax into my cordage or not I cannot say, but the point is worth watching, since it can alter the sailing of the ship. It is also another and very powerful reason why shrouds, or sidestays for the masts, should not be fitted. Unless such shrouds had elastic lanyards through the dead-eyes, it would entail considerable adjustment, frequently done, to keep them taut and tidy. Like the old sailors on the windjammers, you would have to be for ever working with the handy-billy, tightening up or easing off.
This constant tightening and slackening of your rigging is another reason why it is best to fit masts in one piece.
Plenty of stays are needed under the bowsprit and jibboom, and a martingale, or dolphin striker, is advisable. These not only take some of the pull on the jibboom exerted by the many mast backstays, but they also act as shock-absorbers when you run somebody down.
Your stays being of strong line and fitted with bowsies, they give graciously. The dolphin striker should be hinged, to move fore and aft. It is best made of brass.
Wire or chainwork is of no use whatever for martingale stays and backstays. It either stretches or breaks, and looks wretchedly untidy five minutes after you have put it on. It is also nasty stuff to deal with after one of the inevitable collisions in the weekly races. You need several short and distinct stays, all fitted with copper hooks or brass ones. These hooks themselves form a distinct spring in case of collision, for they give and open somewhat; and copper hooks have this advantage, that you can have your martingale stays torn off two or three times in the course of an afternoon and yet the sorew-eyes on the jibboom, and the dolphin striker, will not be torn off, the copper hooks and the bowsies on the stays having let the ship down lightly. The hooks torn open are easily bent back into shape, the bowsies tighten up again, and away you go once more, all trim and tidy under the jibboom.
But you need also very strong fishing-line stuff, not of the brown variety, for places like this. If you wax it well and fit smooth but firmly holding bowsies, you can have your forestays torn off half a dozen times and still they are sound, the copper hooks having taken all the force of the collisions. They will be twisted into ghastly shapes, but what of that ? They are soon bent back again, and you have saved your jibboom.
Have two martingale stays forward, and three martingale backstays holding your dolphin striker back to the ship. Have a bobstay too. This holds the bowsprit down; the others hold the jibboom down. You also need jibboom shrouds, or sidestays, two on eaeh side; all stays to be made easily detachable, as on other parts of the ship. The jibboom shrouds, of course, come well back behind the cathead and are hooked on to small channels screwed into the sides of the ship's bows, where they are now getting wide. These help your jibboom when it is crashed into from the side. It is amazing what your long and willowy jibboom will stand.
But, of course, you must not let it come end-on into a concrete wall. All ships of any considerable size or weight should have a stopper on the forecastle deck, one on each side of the bowsprit, about six inches from the bow. Against these you will ram your pole as the ship comes to land. Such stoppers are invaluable, for without them it is not easy to stop a big full-rigged ship in full career without doing any damage or carrying something away. If you miss, or if your pole slips, away goes your jibboom and the staysails attached. Thus you must have some stoppers on the forecastle deck. I use two full-size brass hinges, screwed on to the forecastle deck the wrong way over. One halfhinge, therefore, stands upright, forced back on to its partner, and so remains, and any amount of force exerted from the front will not knock it down, though you can lay it down, if you wish, in the forward direction with your fingers.
One of these hinges placed at each side of your bowsprit will make the stopping of your ship in full career an easy and safe business -- a very important matter, since a ship galloping hard in a rough sea is not easy to stop. A ship cannot be swivelled round like a racing yacht, and you would run the risk of smashing your jibboom off if you did. Ships require a little technique of their own. They have too many delicate spars to be jerked round as a yacht is, and a seven stone barque like the " Cicely Fairfax " would take some jerking round! Thus, two stoppers, extending right across the forecastle deck, well inboard, one on each side of the bowsprit, must be regarded as essentials to the hard sailor. They will save you any amount of worry and repair work.
Your bowsprit, of course, must be exceedingly strong, though the jibboom may be light and willowy. It should be by far the stoutest spar in the ship, much thicker than your main-mast. A model ship has some terrible shocks to take, right on the nose!
Your bowsprit, therefore, should be a young billiard cue handle in strength, and should go fairly well out over the water, to give support to the jibboom, which is very slender. My opinion is that it should not be built into the ship for fear of damage in collision. I prefer to screw it down on to the forecastle deck with three big brass screws and here the dug-out ship has a big pull. She is solid and massive in this tender place.
All ships, by the way, should have very thick and strong forecastle decks. They need them badly, to strengthen the bows, to hold the bowsprit, and to hold the stoppers.
The jibboom should have a brass heel to take the screw which goes through it into the bowsprit. The only other fastening the jibboom needs besides the stays is a strong lashing or gammoning to the outer end of the bowsprit. I find that one brass screw and this gammoning -- with the stays, of course -- hold a jibboom splendidly.
(We venture to suggest that it would be advantageous to use a watch pintle under the heel of the rudder instead of using the form shown [above] as it would eliminate friction, Editor, THE M. Y. & M.M.M.)