A minor blip in proceedings
On Schooners the Main stay (sometimes called a jumper-stay.) was rigged very differently to other vessels because of the need not to interfere with the Fore gaff sail. For this reason it was taken from the Main Mast head thro’ a block on the aft side of the Foremast, had a double block turned in the end, with a tackle hooked to a ring bolt on the deck aft of the Foremast.
Following the Jotika plans a 1mm Ø line was required as with the Forestay,
Sooo.... the line was prepared, stretched, dyed , waxed, served, and moused, only to look far too heavy when fitted.
Oh dear I thinks to myself that surely can’t be right, so a ferret thro’ my reference works is required.
I find that:
Under this arrangement the Fore stay carried most of the load for both masts and had a stronger stay than that of the Main stay which was of a similar diameter to the lower shrouds.
So much for:-
The Rigging plans have been drawn following extensive research, contemporary and modern. We would recommend that you follow these drawings exactly unless you are converting the model to an earlier or later version of the ship. (Whatever that means)
Nothing for it but to start again, this time using 0.75mmØ line
Doesn’t look much different on the photos perhaps but in reality there is a marked difference in the look of the line. Note also the 5mm lead block at the Foremast head, this is the much improved JB pear wood version.
Moral of the tale – check every line size against reliable sources before going ahead.
Still could be worse I could be relying on AL rigging plans
Rigging the Fore gaff – a juddering halt
This is a confusing area in schooner rigging both in arrangements and terminology.
Fore and aft schooners sometimes carried a sail equivalent to the Fore course on a square rigger, and this yard called a crossjack yard, was raised and lowered on the foremast. With this arrangement the gaff for practical purposes was above the yard.
The gaffs could either be slung ( held in place with a sling) in which case they did not travel up and down the yard; or could be hoisted up and down the mast, in which case a throat halliard was employed.
This was often the case where the gaff was associated with a boom (as on the Main mast) obviously in this case the gaff would have to be below the square yard.
Topsail schooners which carried a square topsail had a crossjack yard or perhaps more properly a spreader yard to carry the clew of the topsail.
When I came to do this the plans call for the gaff to be slung above the Crossjack yard on the Foremast.
This puzzled me somewhat as the plans and references I have seen for Topsail schooners show the gaff below the yard. The more I thought about it the more it niggled me.
It didn’t seem logical that the gaff would be above the square yard even if fixed, so the rigging came to grinding halt. I had to reconcile this before I could move on.
The more I read the more the doubts increased.
Pictures by Geoff Hunt, Gordon Frickers, the model in the Naval museum, the replica Pickle all showed the gaff below the square yard, but of course these aren’t contemporary references.
More in hope than expectation I phoned Jotika and spoke to Richard, designer of the kit, a very helpful guy whose obviously very interested in his subject.
It seems he has gone with contemporary sources, notably a painting by Robert Dodd, an artist of the time, and a book entitled News of Nelson by Derek Allen and Peter Hore.
I have this little book and very interesting it is too.
So on the one hand there is a contemporary painting, and on the other many published works and other references that show the gaff below the yard.
No doubt all these worthies took time and trouble to research their subject, and no doubt had access to information and historians that I do not
The more I looked at the spread yard / fore gaff relationship the odder it looked to me.
The Jotika plans for the spread yard indicate its position some 45mm below the Trestletrees; this would result in an enormous roach to the topsail to avoid excessive rubbing of the Fore and jib stays, far more than would appear on the Dodd painting.
There are no plans of Pickle, there is no real evidence what she actually looked like, even her origin is open to debate, she was after all a small work horse vessel and would not have gained fame were it not for the Trafalgar dispatches.
The arrangement in the Dodd painting may or may not be correct, but work by other contemporary artists show the gaff below the yard.
I scoured every book in my collection for contemporary art work that supports the Dodd image but could find none. Except that is in relation to Fore and aft schooners where a square sail was set on a crossjack yard.
In the meantime I received an e-mail reply from Richard Wright the Technical Manager at Jotika.
I repeat it here for any future Pickle builders for whom the same conundrum may arise.
3 September 2010
I apologise for the delay in getting this over to you but please see the attached image, an enlarged section of the painting by Robert Dodd titled “Victory of Trafalgar in the Rear”, showing the Schooner Pickle. This was our primary reference for depicting Pickle with the gaff above the crossjack.
I have also pulled out some of my old notes and found specific reference to this point which, in brief, is as follows:
Fore Gaff above or below Crossjack?
Evidence of both methods on various plans of Schooners from the period – majority appear to be below.
Unable to find specific documentation to detail preference of one method over the other – appears that positioning the crossjack below the gaff allows a larger spread of sail?
Use reference of Robert Dodd image, gaff above crossjack, as most likely orientation for Pickle.
I should also point out that my notes deal with the omission, from the kit, of the topgallant (or royal) yard on the fore mast as well as the topsail gaff on the mizzen mast (shown in the painting) – on a schooner the size of Pickle these would rarely have been shipped and only then in conditions of very light breezes. I am of the opinion that Lapenotiere has had Robert Dodd show them on Pickle in order to have his own schooner appear a little more grand than she might without them.
Please note that the attached pdf was originally emailed to me during my correspondence with Peter Hore and I am providing it here for your own reference only. Copyright for the image is owned by the author/publisher.
It was very good of Richard to take the time to respond to my query, and shows perhaps the commitment of Jotika to their customers. This is a big plus in my opinion.
However, after more deliberation the huge gore requirement in the Topsail clinched it and I decided I couldn’t live with the given plan so the Fore Gaff sling was cut and the gaff was moved down the mast to allow room for the spread yard.
To finish off the gaff the spread yard now had to be fitted so that the truss could be put into place before the gaff sling was re-rigged. This wouldn’t have mattered with the yard in the lower position.
The gaff can then be finished off with the seizing of the standing sling and rigging of the Topping lifts.
Topping Lifts took various forms but after some research I decided to go with the particular line arrangement indicated in the plans, and on the Dodd painting as far as I can see. I wasn’t however impressed by the Jotika method of making a ‘sister’ block from a supplied 5mm common.
Topping lift set up
Until the Vangs are put into place the correct degree of tension cannot be applied to the Topping lifts.
What Jotika refer to as a ‘sister’ block is more properly a Leg and fall block, which I fashioned from a 7mm boxwood single, the extra size gave more scope to get the correct profile.
Leg and fall block on Main Gaff.
So here we have the revised arrangement , the spread yard will swing somewhat free until fully rigged; one of my foibles is to glue as little as possible on models and I really don’t like pinning yards to masts if I can avoid it.
A comparison with the kit arrangement can be seen in these photos.
Kit plan set up.
This is the familiar set up of topsail schooners
With the yard in this position is can be seen what a large gore would be required in the topsail to clear the stays.
The yard could be moved up some I suppose, but not in my case where I have fitted cheeks below the Trestletrees.