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

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Fidding topmasts.

The moment your topmasts get above the lower yards, it will be right to truss them well-to, as at that time the weight on the top-tackles is fast increasing from the whole weight of the rigging and backstays, and the topmasts being obliged to fit rather tight in the caps, and squares of the heels of the masts. I have seen two topmasts saved by being brought up by the lower yards, after both top-tackle falls had been carried away, and without doing the slightest injury to the lower yards on which the topmast slid between the lower-mast and the slings of the lower yards. If on the contrary, they had not been brought up by the lower yards, many lives must have been endangered, besides damage to the ship. In fidding topmasts, you will not unfrequently see topmen standing on each of the lower caps to overhaul, and light up the gear: this practice ought never to be permitted, because, if any accident should happen to the top-tackles, or even a surge when the masts are not very high, it might endanger the men's lives; but should the nature of the accident allow the topmast trestle-trees to strike the cap, their lives would be still more endangered. I once saw a sloop of war's main topmast come down by the run just before it was high enough for trussing the main-yard to; these vessels having only one top-tackle, the other sheave being dumb. The top-tackle fall was carried away, the hawser surged by accident, and the mast was only brought up by the thimble in the top-tackle pendant jamming in the top block. The mast came down with such a jerk that it drove the cross-trees and rigging nearly a foot up the mast-head, and made the main-mast tremble. I merely mention this case to show, if men had been on the cap, the danger they would have been in at the time of the accident. In fidding topmasts with lower yards struck, if not sufficiently manned to accomplish both at the same time, sway your topmasts high enough to place a crowbar through the fid-hole, and secure the falls; sway up the lower yards, and truss them well to the masts, and you will then fid your topmasts free from danger.
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.