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

Page 215:

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.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives.

Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.