Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c., 1849.
On every ship helping to make her own seamen and riggers.
Though the seafaring men of this country have increased in number, still, men
having the real requisites for able seamen, are considerably fewer. The docks
in our great commercial seaports, and steamers, &c., are said to have much
influence on this change. It arises in a great measure, form the crews of
merchant vessels generally having nothing to do with the rigging of their
vessels, this being done by riggers, who fit the ship, and conduct her to the
port she is to sail from; the crew not joining until within a few days of her
sailing, and all discharged again on her arrival; the discharging cargo, and
refitting being transferred to the riggers and dock-men; consequently, the
seagoing men cannot have the same opportunity of becoming riggers that they
formerly had. It is partly on this account, that ships of war so often find
great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of good seamen-riggers. When
anything is to be done with the standing rigging, such as fleeting and turning
in the rigging afresh, &c., you can seldom find seamen enough in a ship of war
to accomplish the whole at once. It would from this, that vessels of war ought
to take great pains in rearing seamen for the Navy. Landsmen, and boys, are
seldom taught the substantial part of a seaman's duty; exercising the sails
now and then, and a little knotting and splicing will not make a seaman. We
have no quiet progressive teaching to make seamen for the Navy; the evolutions
of vessel of war are too quick for a learner to gain much knowledge. Men
placed in this situation soon become smart without being useful. If the young
men and boys do not get a little instruction in seamanship shortly after they
join the Navy, they afterways become ashamed to learn, and, from being jeered
and laughed at by their companions, for not knowing more, they at last
consider a seaman's duty above their abilities, despair, and fall into the
lowest grade of duties on board. We have seen many such men lose their proper
place on board, for the want of a little teaching on first joining the
Service. We have also known several men, who have received pensions for long
service in the Navy, that could not splice two ends of a piece of inch-rope
together. All that I wish to infer is, that the day is fast approaching, when
the Navy will, in a great measure, have to look to its own resources for
seamen for her fleets, therefore, the more the captain of every ship can do to
make the rising generation practical seamen, the better. As this is the point
on which we appear so much to fail, not in the want of men to join the Navy,
so much as the want of seamen. If that part of a rigger's duty which is so
generally found useful, were more taught to the younger men and boys, we
should not find ships so much at a loss when they have anything of consequence
to do with the standing rigging. We have heard of several vessels being
obliged to have their rigging turned in by the dock-yard riggers, for the want
of seamen amongst the crews.
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.
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