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I was wondering if anyone knew how anchors were handled on a large carrack, like the "Mary Rose"?  I saw some drawings of both a windlass and a capstan in the AOTS book of the ship, but no mention of either in the "Your noblest shippe anatomy of the Tudor warship"..  I asked at the museum at Portsmouth, but they said neither had been recovered.  Santa Maria had a capstan under the foc'sl according to reconstructions, but what about larger, later carracks?




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  • 4 weeks later...

The Lomellina, a Genoese carrack which sank in 1516 had a capstan just aft of the foremast - see http://archeonavale.org/lomellina/an/l_102a.html 


its keel is 34.18 metres (112 feet) long with a 2.25 metre stempost (the sternpost is missing) - see http://archeonavale.org/lomellina/an/l_9a.html -  compared with Mary Rose's 32 metres (I don't know if this was length of keel or overall length). The home page of the excavation is at http://archeonavale.org/lomellina/index.html


The Red Bay wreck of 1565, though later (and a galleon, not a carrack), also had a capstan, between the main and mizzen masts (see http://www.patrimoniocultural.gov.pt/media/uploads/trabalhosdearqueologia/18/22.pdf ), though it's debatable whether this was for the anchor.


The Complaynte of Scotland of 1548 

refers to the anchor being raised by a capstan.


I hope this is of help.



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I just had another look at the Lomellina report and it says the capstan was for raising the mainyard rather than the anchor, though I suppose there's no good reason it couldn't have been used for both.



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You can hold a ship against tide, current and wind using a stone as has been found in very old wrecks. the larger the forces the more mass is needed to hold the ship so something beside mass was needed. Iron anchors are heavy because of the need for strength to resist bending, not for the mass. An Iron or steel anchor is configured so the anchor lies so the flukes will dig their way into the bottom material under strain as long as that strain is along the floor of the anchorage. They are designed so that a strain from above will pull the flukes out of the bottom. Upsetting the anchor requires the most lifting capacity, so the ship itself is normally used for that. Scope is the amount of anchor cable out, think the ideal minimum was 6 time the water depth to prevent upsetting the anchor and drifting while it digs its self back in. Hoisting the anchor was a big deal, not much more lift needed than lifting a spar though, except for breaking the anchor loose from the bottom and the ship itself was normally used to for that by sailing over and past the anchor, then the capstan used for the up and down lift. The smaller anchor cables were used directly on the capstan, as the cable size increased other lines were used on the capstan and that rope was moused to the cable in various ways, lift to limits, secure and re-rig for the next lift. Maybe not the direct answer you look for, but it might help in keeping your search within practical limits.

jud  :pirate41:


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