Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c., 1849.

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A sea anchor.

This anchor may frequently be of the greatest possible use; it ought to be made in the following manner:-- take three spare spars, or top-gallant studding-sail booms will be sufficiently large; with these spars form a triangle, the size you think will be large enough, when under water, to hold the ship; cut these spars to the required length, before or after crosslashing them well at each angle; then make fast your spans, one to each angle, so that they will bear an equal strain when in the water; but should your spars be weak, you should always increase the number of spans according to their weakness, fill up the centre of the triangle with string canvass, having eyelet holes round its sides, about three inches apart, to which eyelet holes attach the canvass well to the spars; at the back of the canvass pass many turns of inch or inch and a half, net fashion, of course. A proper net would be preferable to rope so expended. To the base of the triangle attach a weight, or small anchor, supported in the centre of the base by a span running from each of the lower angles. To the first-mentioned spans make fast the stream cable; when every thing is quite ready, hoist or put it overboard from the place you think it will answer best. I have every reason to believe, with this anchor under the trough of the sea, and 70 or 80 fathoms of stream cable out, that a ship's drift would not be very great. I have tried a similar contrivance twice, and it answered beyond my expectations. The plan I propose would be of the greatest advantage to dismasted vessels, and vessels which have lost their rudders, &c., It appears preferable to riding by spars, as the spars drift so much faster than the sea anchor, which I have described, from its being well under the trough of the sea, so makes great resistance to the drift of the vessel. The reason I propose a triangular form in preference to the square is, that the trough of the sea may strike as lightly as possible, should the upper angles at any time approach the trough of the sea while riding at anchor. I am fully aware that a square might be so placed as to have one of its corners up in the same manner as the triangle, but then you would lose the base in the very place you want the greatest resistance, if you make a square; one which I feel confident would not answer as well as the triangular shape. If a ship should approach the shore with this sea anchor down, it would enable her to bring-to with her proper anchors much easier than if the sea anchor had not been down. She might let go her proper anchors and veer from the sea anchor, until she had sufficient cable out, which would give her a much better chance of holding. The sea anchor should have a buoy and buoy-rope sufficiently long to let anchor go well under the trough of the sea.
Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c.
William Woodward, Portsea, 1849. 8vo, frontisp., (6), x, 319 pp, 1 col. plate of signals.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.