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When did catheads start being used?

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What nation?  The earliest date I see in Goodwin's Construction and Fitting of British Ships of War is 1664.   Laughton's book Old Ship Figure Heads and Sterns mentions the Dutch having Catheads closer to 1630 and those were more on the head itself rather at the corners of the head.



Edited by allanyed
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Just as a guess, mind, the famous illustration of a 'Kraek, by W. A.' has a large focs'l jutting out over the hawse area and no catheads.  It wouldn't surprise me if the use of a small 'crane' for lifting the anchors became necessary when the focs'l no longer jutted out so far and could be used to handle the anchors.

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The W. A. image is c. 1470.  An Italian engraving of 1470-1480 showing a very similar ship has what may be a cathead.

You pays your money and takes your chances, but at least it gives a time frame for the transition.

Edited by jbshan
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The Vasa 1628 and The Sovereign of the Seas 1637 both had catheads but they were fitted differently. Protruding forward from the beakhead bulkhead at an outboard angle they were positioned on the upper gundeck as far as I'm aware. No doubt other ships of that time had similar arrangements. Later of course they were moved up onto the forecastle,Goodwin says ca 1656.


This can be seen on the Vasa itself and on Paynes' engraving/etching of the Sovereign.


Dave  :dancetl6:

Edited by davyboy
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