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It's a bit late in the game for me, but every time I've looked at my Sherbourne deck recently I've had a nagging suspicion that something is odd.

 

It was this morning when I had another look that it dawned on me. All the cutter models I've seen, as well as the plans in the AOTS book of the Alert by Goodwin and the plans for other cutters, show the bowsprit supports fore of the windlass, and their bitts include the pawl for the windlass.

 

The following are pictures I've taken during my visit to Chatham as well as at the Science Museum store:

 

post-229-0-28332700-1430908483_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-12165300-1430908534_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-53257600-1430908586_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-82519900-1430908619_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-05286700-1430908679_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-81624400-1430909286_thumb.jpg

 

The following is from Goodwin's book on the Alert:

 

post-229-0-27249800-1430908832_thumb.jpg

 

The original plans for the Sherbourne, however, show it aft of the windlass, as is done in the kit:

 

post-229-0-33499000-1430909680_thumb.jpg

 

My question is whether this was an oddity, or was it just variable? In mechanical terms I would have thought that having it aft of the windlass would be advantageous in terms of balance and the ease of moving it in or out, but it's clear that a lot of cutter designers seemed to think differently. Having it aft does clutter the deck more, though.

 

Tony

 

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'Cutter' as a rig type implies the bowsprit could be extended for larger sails.  'Cutter' as vessel type is more of a dispatch vessel, fast, nimble, large sail area for the size of the hull.  The Sherbourne drawing looks as if it is a shifting bowsprit.  Some of the other examples do as well, there are two with an additional 'fid' hole forward of the bitts, and several look as if there would be clearance above the bitts for the bowsprit to shift aft, as does Alert.

(Aside)  If nothing else, those pics show there is more than one way to skin that cat.  No two alike, are there?

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