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

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Wearing ship.

This evolution generally takes place from three causes; first, when you have not sufficiently of wind to tack, the ship will generally wear. Secondly, you are obliged to wear when it blows too hard to tack; and thirdly, you must wear when the ship will not come round against the sea on the weather bow. Many good officers wear their ships instead of tacking, when they have plenty of sea-room, and the nature of the Service will admit. By this means you save your ropes and sails, and endanger your spars less. When you wish to wear quickly, I never could understand why the main-topsail should be shivered, more particularly in light winds, for in shivering the main-topsail you take off the propelling fore of the powerful sails on the main-mast; and as it is ship's way through the water acting on the rudder which is the principal cause of the ship's wearing quickly, you invariably diminish this power by the main-topsail being shivered.

The main-mast of a ship is so near the centre, that I cannot see what you can gain by shivering the main-topsail, still is not an uncommon practice to wear ship with the main-topsail shivering. My experience has led me to believe, that the best and quickest mode of wearing is, to heave up the helm gradually, brail up the driver, ease away the after-braces, shiver the mizen-topsail, keep hauling in the weather braces of the yards of the main-mast, but never touch the canvass; when the ship has payed off a point, let go the head-bowlines, ease-off the tack and sheet, and haul on the weather braces, which will make her wear more rapidly than keeping the head-yards up, as is too usually the case, until the ship is before the wind; when the wind gets on the other quarter, haul out the driver, shift over head-sails, heave up gradually, being careful to have trustworthy men stationed at all the weather braces. When short-handed, and blowing hard, and plenty of sea-room, it will be found a good plan to have the head-yards up, and trusses well taut, while the ship is running nearly before the wind; when done, bring the ship to the wind gradually; this gives only one of the principal masts to attend to, at the same time, instead of bringing the ship to the wind with everything flying away, and not half hands enough to attend to them, besides the risk of carrying away yards, splitting sails, &c. Of course when you have the hands on deck, you can attend to all the yards and sails at the same time. In very hard gales, wearing requires most serious attention in looking out for a smooth. Be careful in having good seamen to attend the weather braces. Good helmsmen, and plenty of them; relieving-tackles, with good steady men to attend them, and a compass ready for use, in the after gun-room, which, by-the-bye, should always be there when the relieving-tackles are hooked.

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.