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Question about pulpit type jibboms/bowsprits.


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I have decided to resume the construction of my Ersatzia/fake Wasa build and installed the jibbom/bowsprit.It occurs to me that it would incredibly dangerous to reef or set the sail on that tiny platform in the open ocean.We all know how fast the weather can turn  nasty when sailing the ocean.is that part of the reason that this type was eventually discontinued?

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I think you are using the wrong word to describe the thing you are talking about. "pulpit" is, I think, found on the bows of modern ships and its the railed platform just big enough for a man to stand in a safe position at the bow. "Spritsail Top" is probably the more well known name for the circular platform at the base of the Spritsail Topmast I believe you are talking about. I would consult R.C. Anderson's book The Rigging of Ships in the Days of the Spritsail Topmast. Its got the words "spritsail topmast" right there in the title!

It sounds pedantic to harp on the uses of one phrase or word or another, but in discussing ship history and equipment you can't avoid it, you have to add a LOT of words to your vocabulary in order to make yourself understood or in order to understand what other people are talking about. I find this whole process really enjoyable since I am kind of a nomenclature nerd. I always recommend the book The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Its 967 pages of nautical terminology with great definitions and histories of usage.

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The reasoning behind going from a spritsail topmast to a jib boom rigging arrangement had to do with the desire to increase the area of head sails that can be carried.  You can carry much more sail area forward when you have additional fore and aft jib sails, stay sails, and flying jib sails.  Plus the spritsail topsail was always an awkward sail to rig.  When the ship was sailing close to the wind the cant of the spritsail yard made it extremely difficult to set the spritsail topsail.  This made the sail useful in only a limited range of conditions.

 

If you look at the progression of rigging development you will see where ships went from having a spritsail topmast to having a spritsail topmast and a jib boom together to finally just a jib boom.  You will also see the fore mast gradually being stepped further aft.  All of these changes increase the sail area forward to improve ship maneuverability.

 

Regards,

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Isn't it AMAZING nobody thought of the simple solution of triangular sails set on the EXISTING stays?  I guess ship builders were very conservative and reluctant to try crazy new ideas. They went to all that trouble of spritsails and spritsail topsails. Which also, by the way, completely block the view directly ahead for everyone on deck.

I have never done any square rigged sailing but my understanding is that you have to have some sort of headsail out on the bow or you can't go about by tacking. I don't think those spritsail topsails were providing much horsepower for the rest of the sailing operation of the ship, but without them they couldn't turn through the eye of the wind.

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