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I am trying to analyse the rigging for the Euromodel Royal William (1650 followed by a number of re-fits up till 1719) and the following image has been hugely dissected out to show the mizzen topsail yard with its braces and the lateen yard. I hoping that some well-informed people on the forum can tell me how this brace system worked as shown. I may be a little thick or maybe the drawing is a little unusual or ... but the port side line in each of the two braces merge into one line which then goes down to the deck. I guess it is simply my failure to understand how this form of tackle works.




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Not shown on the drawing is that the braces will lead down to the deck. You can see there are two pennants with blocks on them attached to the yard, and the hauling part of the two braces each have one end seized to the peak of the gaff and the hauling end of each lead up to and through the blocks on the pennants and back to the peak of the gaf. Not legible in the drawing at that point would be two more blocks or fairleads at the peak of the gaf through which the braces would lead and from there lead down to the deck.

It's not uncommon to see mizzen braces led to the peak of the gaff, there is no other good place to afford the necessary leverage to brace yards since the angle straight down to the deck from those yardarms is too steep to provide the leverage to brace but instead that lead pulls almost directly down, not aft.here is a drawing from Anatomy of the Ship Bellona by Brian Lavern showing more detail but I am sure there are better examples out there.





 Niagara USS Constitution 


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James Lees' "The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War 1625-1860" gives no diagram of the mizen topsail braces, but says the following about them:


"Braces, up to 1805, led aft with the standing part made fast to the mizen yard or gaff.  The running part rove through the brace pendant blocks, back through single blocks on a span round the mizen yard or gaff just below the standing part and the brace led down to the rails by the transom.  Until about 1670, blocks on the mizen yard were about 8ft down from the standing part; after then the standing part and the blocks were very close, about a foot separating them."


I would suggest, then, that your rigging diagram should look more like this




and, no, you're not being thick.  The original drawing is a nonsense.





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Diorama, Washington & Philadelphia - 1776.  1:144 scale scratch build

Sir Edward Hawke - Schooner, 1776.  1:72 scale scratch build from H Hahn plans

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Mediterranean Cog - 1343.  1:40 scale scratch build from Xavier Pastor plans

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