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

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Vessels are generally supposed to sail faster when new, than after they have seen much sea service, and become old.

If the opinion be correct, that vessels generally sail faster when they are new, than they do afterwards, when they have seen much sea service, and become, in a measure, loose in their frames, that is, supposing vessels of the same size, copper equally good, masts, yards, sails, &s., the same in both cases, and sailed on the same lines. If this be true, it goes far to disprove the practice of loosening vessels at all points, so as to give the decks, upper works, masts, &c., as much play as possible while in chase. To give this supposed desirable advantage, stanchions are removed from supporting the decks, mast-wedges are taken out, rigging often slacked, and sometimes a butt of water suspended between the fore and main-mast; hammocks hung up, and the watch below desired to turn in, with a shot or two as bedfellows; then comes shot-boxes, bags, &c., to be suspended between the decks; this is all done with the intention of accelerating the vessel's speed -- but some officers during our late wars, when in chase, have done most extraordinary things, with the view to increase the speed of their vessels, such as sawing beams, timbers, or planks, in two, &c. I have sailed with some officers who were so fully impressed with the opinion that the more you can give play to the masts of a vessel with safety, the more likely you are to increase her speed, that I once saw the laniards of the fore-rigging of a small vessel unrove, and made fast round the fore-mast with that intention. If new vessels generally sail faster at a time when they are most stiff, the most compact, and the strongest, it gives rather a fair ground for supposing, that as vessels get old, that their very looseness of frame acts against their sailing. But I am inclined to advocate the general opinion of new ships sailing better than old ones, from the simple cause that they are considerable lighter, and that their falling off in speed is in consequence of their absorbing so much water, that they get sogged, heavy, and dull. All vessels regain, in some degree, their original good qualities, after being some time in dock; still, on the other hand, I believe it is generally admitted that when you wish to obtain all possible speed out of a vessel, that her shrouds and stays should not be too taut, because when chasing by the wind, you cannot get your yards so sharp up in the first place, and in the second place, if the rigging were over taut before the yards were braced up, it would become still more so afterwards, by the long lever of the lee yard-arm pressing against the rigging. When a vessel is going free, as her hull is the object to be propelled, all studding-sail tacks, and other ropes with sails attached to them, would be better made fast to the vessel's hull, then through leading blocks attached to the rigging for that purpose. As vessels pitch more than they scend aft, the practice of suspending butts to the stays, and slinging weights to the decks, may have originated from the idea, that the vessel being thrown forward with greater force than aft, the weights would give a tendency to throw the masts forward at the same time, and add to the effect in assisting her head-way.
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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