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

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On the sails to steer by when close-hauled.

Had we not seen the mizen-topsail on several occasions, chosen as the proper sail to steer a ship by when closehauled, this article would never have been inserted here. Seamen are perfectly aware that the mizen-topsail should not be used as a proper sail for conning the ship by; still, as we have often heard it asserted, that as the mizen-topsail is always the first sail to touch when close-hauled, that it should, in consequence, be the proper sail to conn, or guide a ship by. Experience teaches us, that this view of the case is fallacious, and that the touching of the mizen-topsail arises from the mizen-mast unavoidably being so near the main-mast, and that the force of the wind while gliding off such a powerful sail as the main-topsail, occasions an eaddy wind, which shakes the weather-leach of the mizen-topsail; and what proves this more fully is, that the weather-leach of the mizen-topsail is sooner shaken in proportion to the strength of the wind. With all plain sail set, the main-sail is generally considered the best sail to steer the ship by; with the main-sail up, the main top-gallant sail is then the best sail to steer by; and with top-gallant sails handed, the main-topsail. In making long passages, some very good seamen set a small fore-topmast studding-sail to steer the ship by, by which means they insure all the sails being kept well full; the fore-topmast studding-sail being sure to tell tales, if kept too near the wind. We knew a ship where the quarter-masters were obliged to steer her by a straight wake close-hauled, and a ship of the line which had scuttles cut through her poop-deck, that the man at the helm might see to steer the ship by the mizen-topsail.
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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