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cat davit's How where they used around 1535 on English ships

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Ahoy Mates


Trying to find out how cat davits were set up on the bow of ships in the time period of around 1535 on English warships? It's for my Mary Rose build.


The new Anatomy Of the Ship Mary Rose has sketches  showing cat davits that were used,but do not show where or how they were set and rigged for use and storage on the Mary Rose.


I have made the two of them up and need to find out this information. Have looked thru all my books and have searched for "cat davit" with no answers being found.


Would they have been lashed to the deadeye's on the bow when not in use?


I would like to have my model with one of them raising the anchor into place.







Edited by bear
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I have heard of the "Fish Davit" but in my minds eye its just a piece of wood with no sheves in the end. I just did a web search and see one with iron eyes at the end for tackle)  Fish davits I have seen are depicted as laying on the deck athwartship forward of the Fore mast when not in use, near where they would be operated from. My understanding is that they were used like a derrick, one end inboard upon the edge of the deck with the other end held in space outboard of the ship with tackle to control the position of the davit and to raise the anchor.




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Those look like catheads to me.   Maybe that's what they are?

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A 'fish davit' of later times might fit through a ring on deck on one end, and in a recess in the rail on the other.  There might be a tackle fore and aft to hold the outboard end in position.  This might be some combination of fish davit and cathead of later times.

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  • 2 months later...



Have you contacted the Mary Rose Museum?  They have a website that is pretty extensive including contact information.    From a photo of a model at NMM I cannot see a cat or a fish davit, nor an opening where a davit would come through the hull, unless the gun port opening was used for this purpose when raising the anchor.  



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Did you make any further progress in your investigation ?


What I see in your photos posted are possibly fish davits but not sure about them having sheaves. In the time period 1650 - 1740, there was one full breadth fish davit athwartships and forward of the foremast and it was man-handled to project over either side. There was a tackle underneath at the outer ends for fishing the anchor once the stock was clear of the water. Post about 1773, the fish davit was shortened and could be moved to either side. Whether they had sheaves or not is besides the point. I cannot see the beams shown  being used to lift the anchors up but I could be wrong.


As has already been pointed out, they usually contained ring bolts at the outboard end - one on top for the topping lift and one each side for stabilizing guys. The inboard end was seated in a hinged metal shoe mounted either on the fore channel or on the deck itself.


Interestingly, Mondfeld suggests the use of d-blocks in the 14 - 16 th. centuries that were mounted on the hull side. A line through this block was used to haul the anchor out of the water. That would fit in with your time frame ?  Cathead beams were used when the anchors became heavier and started damaging the sides. However, I can find no clear indication of when these beams became the norm so the transition from block to beam is rather vague.



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