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Attaching a Cutter's foresail to its horse rail

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After the tremendous help I received regarding the nature of the horse for the foresail, I find I have a further quandary. How to attach the foresail to the rail.

 

I find the description given by Steel to be very confusing. He says:

 

"Sheets reeve through a block made fast to the horse with a thimble, or, in some sloops, a dead-eye iron bound, and through a block at the clue, and so on, alternately, between the strap of the block and the seizing or dead-eye; then through the thimble at the clue, till the whole sheet is expended; then frapped together and hitched."

 

I really cannot envisage this. It seems to say that the sheet is

  1. bound to the clue,
  2. then directly to a block at the horse,
  3. then to a block also attached to the clue,
  4. then to the seizing or dead-eye,
  5. then to the strap of the block at the clue
  6. then (after going back and forth 'between the strap of the block and the seizing or dead-eye') through the thimble at the clue
  7. and, when the rope is spent, frapped and hitched to the layers of rope so formed.

I can't find a picture showing this, apart from a very indistinct picture from Cole's build of the Alert.

 

I'd therefore be very grateful if someone could explain how the foresail is attached to the horse rail in this manner, especially if they could provide a drawing, illustration or picture.

 

Just in case people reply after tomorrow afternoon, I'll be on a three-week trip starting mid-day Thursday 10th, and so may be unable to reply until I can find suitable wi-fi connections wherever I'll be staying.

 

Thanks in advance

 

Tony

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Sounds to me that pretty much like the modern way of rigging a mainsheet from the boom (your jib/foresail clew) to a traveller car running a track (your horse). The terminology is different, but here's one way of implementing this. The top block attaches to the jib clew, the bottom block attaches so as to run along the length of the horse, be it by shackles, thimbles, dead-eyes, etc..

post-1377-0-74535200-1457538531_thumb.jpg

This system is single ended and has a becket on the bottom block where the sheet begins; it reeves up, down, up, down, turn-and-out. It is easily adaptable to a double ended system by striking the becket and adding a third sheave to the bottom block. In the double ended system, you enter from 'port' and turn and go up, then down, then up, then down and turn and exit to 'starboard'.

 

Double ended systems are a witch, because you have to worry about sheet tail lengths on both boards and keep them both secured so the sail doesn't blow the slack weather tail out of the block.

 

I don't know how blocks were physically attached to something like a horse back then. This was the province of the bosun. I've known enough bosuns (modern equivalent) to recognize the first thing they do with their new boat (toy) is re-rig everything they can to suit their preference and proclivities. Heck, I'm as guilty of that as any crew chief. So there is a smorgasbord of period attachment fiddly-bits, any of which would be appropriate for the function given the required geometries. Just MHO. John

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Thanks, John. A lovely illustration. That's exactly how I would have done it if the description by Steel were just to the two blocks, and I agree it is the most likely and obvious solution. What threw me was the description by Steel of the to'ing and fro'ing

 

"alternately, between the strap of the block and the seizing or dead-eye; then through the thimble at the clue"

 

I really couldn't make head or tail of that.

 

I also love your description -- it really gives life to the whole concept!

 

Tony

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Thanks Tony. I think a lot of the period stuff is terminology. Back then they didn't do beckets a lot, so ...

 

Envision a short pennant terminating at both ends in a loop; the loops lined with metal collars. One end slides along the horse. The other is affixed to the 'horse block'. In the adsence of a becket on the horse block, the only way to terminate the sheet is by affixing it to the 'loop' that the horse block is attached to. It's same, same, if you look at the geometry. So 'strap of the block and seizing or dead eye' and through the thimble of the clew' is somewhat nondenominational.

 

Again, just MHO. John

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Thanks, John. That's quite reasonable, and the description was clear about terminating the sheet by frapping and hitching. I'm presume that would make adjustments to the blocks faster as well as not leaving more ends crossing the deck.

 

Steel isn't here to argue and in the absence of reprimands about historical truth, so I think I'll go with the simple and straightforward solution with the two blocks as you suggest.

 

Tony

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The whole idea of the Horse is to make the entire sail self tending. The vessel can go about tack upon tack and the sheet and its rigging move by themselves across the Horse as the vessel moves through the eye of the wind, nobody has to lay a hand on it but it is ONLY self tending if the sheet stays the same length as it moves across the horse.

 If you have the tail of your tackle coming right off the blocks on the sail or from the Horse to a point of belay on any other fixed position on deck (unless it is dead midships), the lines length changes as the block on the horse moves athwartship and now you need crew tending the sheet every time you tack- they will need to take up on the line and ease it out again as the block on the horse moves across.  Steel avoids this problem by having the sheet belay to itself- via those frapping turns. If you want to belay the sheet anywhere else its best to chose a point amidships so the rig will remain symmetrical Port and Starboard, or have a lead block fixed to the deck amidships to do the same thing. But this still allows a LOT of slcak in the line as the block on the horse moves across the deck and things can get pretty wild in the eye of the wind, the block shooting back and forth violently as the sail luffs, and now all that slack line is going to foul on things, at JUST the point you do not want it to, guaranteed.

The sheet on the club footed staysail on the schooner Pioneer is on a horse. There are two single blocks on the club of the staysail about four feet apart from each other  and there is a double block on the horse. This block rides on a large shackle but a thimble would work too.The line starts on the bail of the double block on the horse and is rove back and forth to the two blocks on the club and the two sheeves on the double block , then it goes to another single block at the MASTHEAD and thus down to the pinrail. Running the line via the masthead avoids the problem of slack forming in the sheet every time it moves across the traveler and this makes it more eficient. It also means there is no line running across the deck at ankle height in the crowded deckspace forward.

Steel appears to belay the sheet to itself- those frapping turns. This makes perfect sense but makes it a bit more difficult to tend than a line on a pin would be. You do still need to adjust the sheet for different points of sail, but when tacking you can let the sail tack itself with no adjustments to the sheet needed at all.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie

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Thanks, Frankie. Sounds good. I'm at the airport now, so I'll look at this in more detail once I've arrived tomorrow and if I have a good connection.

 

Tony

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Just as an update to this thread, I eventually decided to make a horse of the type shown on the model of the Diligence at http://www.shipmodel.com/models/diligence-full-hull-nav-

 

post-229-0-76079200-1466206399_thumb.jpg

 

The result is:

 

post-229-0-42174300-1466206429_thumb.jpg

 

post-229-0-29604500-1466206620_thumb.jpg

 

You can see this as part of my build log at

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/335-hmc-sherbourne-by-tkay11-–-caldercraft-–-scale-164-1763-a-novice’s-caldercraft-sherbourne/?p=420946

 

Thanks again to everyone for their help.

 

Tony

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I just noticed this post. I have been pondering this subject while working on my Royal Navy longboat model as some Admiralty drawings show a horse for the foresail. My problem with knotting the tail of the sheet to itself would be trying to untie it under tension especially when wet- a necessary thing to be able to do with any sheet in a boat under sail. Steel mentions one other idea that I like better. The block on the horse is provided with an over length sheave pin on hat serves as a belaying pin for the tail of the sheet.

 

 

Roger Pellett

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Thanks, Roger. I hadn't seen that other idea. Sounds good. Whereabouts in Steel is that mentioned? It's too late for me to change my model now as I'm just finishing it off and want to move on, but I'd be really interested for future reference.

 

Tony

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The practice that I am describing is described for the main sheet of a cutter on page 187 of Steel's rigging instructions. Steel says "or the pin of the block in small vessels."

 

Unfortunately, for sloops and ship's longboats Steel just says "but (rigged) much lighter."

 

In learning to sail a small boat, I was taught never to belay a sheet and at least one 19th century seamanship manual in my library warns officers ships' boats of the same thing. On the other hand, I don't see how large boats such as longboats could be sailed without belaying or at least snubbing fore and main sheets. So my intent when rigging my longboat is to provide a horse with extended pin block for the foresail and a cleat to snub the mainsail in the stern sheets.

 

The foresail would therefore be self tending, but the main sheet would be shifted with each tack.

 

I would appreciate any and all comments.

 

Roger Pellett

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OK, Roger, I see it now, but the section in question is to do with the boom/main sheet and not the stay sail -- which is what I originally raised the question about.

 

Tony

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Tony,

 

I agree, the rigging of the main sheet for your cutter is exactly as described in Steel.

 

What I have been trying to figure out is the system used on a much smaller vessel, a 32 ft longboat.

 

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett

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Thanks for the clarification, Roger. My misreading! I'm not a sailor, except for my desk chair, so I am totally useless at saying anything of value here!

 

Tony

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Roger - I am a bit puzzled  could you point us to the Admiralty drawings showing a horse for a longboat.  Is it actually cutter rigged - how many foresails ?  Have you a pic of your vessel ?

 

We are talking a small vessel here with a demountable rig - I would be very surprised to find a horse on such a vessel - it would be so in the way and I cant see what purpose it would serve. Not as if they would often be short of crew to handle a sheet.

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My model is based on the Admiralty drawing of a 32ft longboat reproduced on page 90 of The Boats of Men of War by W.E. May. In addition to a body plan, this drawing includes a sail plan, spar plan, and a number of rigging details. Unfortunately, it does not show the sheets for either of the headsails. The boat is what we would now call cutter rigged. It has a foresail hanked to the fore stay and a jib set flying from an unstayed bowsprit. The entire bowsprit appears rather flimsy and my interpretation is that the jib was principally intended for sailing off the wind and upwind in light air.

 

Your picture would indicate that you are a sailor so you know that for upwind sailing the foresail on this boat would be a workhorse and its sheet would be under considerable tension. While the jib sheet could be simply led through a block hooked to a convenient spot, the fore sail would require something more substantial.

 

If you go to the National Maritime Museum website Collections.rmg.co.uk and find the online listing for drawings and search for "longboat" item 17 is a drawing titled 31ft Longboat Circa 1801. Although this is not the same boat that I am modeling, it is roughly the same size and is fitted with a fore sheet horse.

 

I am aware that not all longboats were built to be carried aboard warships. Some were yard craft and a number of these are also shown on this same plan listing, so it may be that this particular longboat was intended as a yard craft. As a minimum in heavy air this foresail would at least need a pair of tackles each secured to an eyebolt but barring some new undiscovered information we can only speculate.

 

Thanks for your comment.

 

Roger

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Yep thats an horse rather bigger than I was expecting  -right across the boat .

 

Unstayed bowsprits all look insubstantial  but they bend ! 

I came across a news letter the other day for a class of vessel which is very similar to your longboat - may give you some leads - I shall wrack my brain to try to remember the web site.

 

The vessel in my pic is a cutter - 60 odd feet and with a horse for the (boomed) staysail.

 

I am not clear what your query is about the sheet run/attachments. 

 

Your point about not belaying a sheet in a boat without an hefty keel or ballast is good ! But a self acting foresail on an horse is in essence belayed - hummmmm

Edited by SpyGlass

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Update still looking  - but I twigged that with the horse as shown then the staysail couldnt have been very large since it would have to fit in the fore triangle so not a greatly powerful sail.  Then query - self acting or not  -I suspect not  so maybe the horse was more a "moveable lead" device.

 

Anyway no great problem - one of many standard sheet connection to sail  - bowline or shackle or or and then  a couple of turns around a post or cleat maybe with a slippery hitch !

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