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

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Luffing to the wind in square rigged vessels in squally weather.

This practice I have known advocated by very good seamen, but my experience has led me to think it not a good one, more particularly when you have plenty of sea-room to admit of the ship being kept off the wind during the heavy part of the squalls; by doing this you decrease the strain on all your ropes and sails, and thereby add much to their safety; but by the other method you increase the strain on all your ropes and sails, until the sails are shaken by the wind, and then they are in a still worse position, for the sudden jerk which both ropes and sails receive at that time is more injurious than a much heavier steady strain. Of course much must be left to circumstances, and the judgement of the officer, but the best seamen do not advocate bringing the wind abeam during the height of a squall before canvass is reduced, more particularly after-canvass, as a beam wind in heavy squalls is one of great danger to the ship, sails, and spars; therefore, to get the wind abaft the beam as soon as possible, when circumstances ill admit, is most certainly the greatest point of safety for a square rigged vessel. In going in or out of narrow harbours, surrounded with high land, you are frequently obliged to have recourse to luffing the ship until the wind is out of the sails, for in these situations you have continual shifting flaws of wind, and though your sails are shaking for a short time, you feel nearly certain that the next flaw will be either on the weather-beam or quarter; and in this way, by keeping her sails shaking to the flaws that are against her, and taking advantage of the favorable flaws, you at last get in, or out of port, taking care to have good hands by the anchor, and everything clear for shortening sail, if required. I have often gone in and out of the Havanna in this manner, the wind being generally on the Mora Castle side of the harbour in the day time.
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.