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Rigging the Mizzen Yard


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Good morning all,

I am at the point of rigging my model of HMS Liverpool.  Liverpool is a 28 gun, Coventry class, 6th rate, frigate.  She was built in 1758.  My model is as she would be about 1775, 1776.  By that time, she had two rebuilds.  Modelshipwright published Modelers Plans in one of their editions.  Sadly, after doing much research, and consulting the Admiralty drafts, I found several inaccuracies.  For example, it shows the pumps, capstains and such in their original position as designed.  The admiralty drafts clearly show that they were relocated one deck higher, and this is noted in the book, The First Frigates.  The Modelshipwright plan also has spars and rigging plans.  These are in different scales (not noted) and clearly show a gaff and boom on the Mizzen.  All of my sources (lee's, Steel, Lever Harland) note that the boom did not show up until 1790.  It also appears that the ship still carried a mizzen yard.  Would that be correct because some books show a gaff with a loose footed mizzen course?

 

Now to the problem.  Both Lees and Lever show the mizzen yard suspended by a jeer block.  On the fore and Main masts, the jeer blocks hand from sling around the mast head above all of the other rigging (shrouds, stays etc).  In lever, the jeer for the mizzen yard hangs from a sling around the mizzen masthead.  Where does it hang and reave to the block on the mizzen yard?  The crojack yard, for the period, had a truss.  Below the crojack is where the mizzen lard lies against the mast.  If the mizzen jeer block is slung from the mast head, and goes down the starboard side of the mast, how does it not interfere with the shrouds?

 

In Lees, there are two pictures of the mizzen top for HMS Medway.  The pictures don't show the detail very clearly, but it appears that the jeer block hangs abaft the mast.  Am I interpreting that correctly?  I suppose that I could make this easy and use a gaff instead of the yard, but I don't think that it is correct.  All opinions welcomed.

 

Regards,

 

Tom

 

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Hi Tom,the mizzen jeer did hang abaft the mast. As I understand it this allowed the mizzen yard to be moved to the other side of the mast when changing tack to prevent the mizzen sail wearing on the mast. The parrel/truss was slackened off,the mizzen yard bowlines disconnected and the yard physically hauled aft then passed to the other side. Must have been a real PITA for the crew as the jeer,brails,sheet and likely the lift would also need some slackening off. Still,Navy ships had large crews so manpower wouldn't have been a problem. I would imagine the sail would have had to be furled to do this but I'm no sailor,a large kite comes to mind :D:D:D

 

Dave :dancetl6:

Edited by davyboy
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Hi Tom;

 

It is my firm belief that a boom was in use earlier than 1790,  as I have contracts for several 74 gun ships built well before this date,  which specify a metal crutch on the quarter to hold the boom (presumably when lowered)  I would therefore not dismiss the idea of a gaff and boom combined.

 

There was also a major overhaul of rigging practice in the 1770s.  I cannot remember exactly when,  but maybe another member can be more specific.  If your vessel's second refit occurred after this overhaul,  I find it difficult to believe that a full-length mizen yard would be retained.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P 

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Good evening all,

 

Thank you for your answers.  No thinking of it logically, it makes sense to have the jeer block hanging from the mast head abaft the mast.  Mark, I'd be very interested to know about the contracts.  I seem to recall, although I can't place where, that the gaff did show up prior to 1790, but on small craft.  A sixth rate would fill that bill, and frankly, even though I made the yard and installed all of the blocks and such, a loose footed gaff would safe me a lot of tribulations.  As Dave points out, and as discussed in Harland's Seamanship in the Age of Sail, moving the mizzen yard simply to change tack was complicated and problematic.  It is that the period that I am modeling is basically right at the point of different establishments.

 Regards to all,

 

Tom

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Hi Tom,here's two bits from Lees,hope they are of help.

 

1:-  "After 1730 and up to 1745 on small ships and 1780 on large ships,the fore part of the sail was cut off and the luff laced to the mizzen mast".

 

2.-  "When gaffs were fitted,which was from 1745 on small ships and 1780 on large ships the mizzen sail was cut exactly as just described".  

 

He also states that "the mizzen sail was always loose footed,that is,no boom was ever fitted; it was only when the permanent driver replaced the mizzen that the boom became a permanent feature".

 

If it was my frigate model I'd fit the gaff.

 

Dave :dancetl6:

 

 

Edited by davyboy
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Good morning, and thanks!

 

I knew that I saw that somewhere, but I couldn't find it.  Where is that passage in Lees?  I went back and forth in my first edition.  You can imagine how it gets when you know it's there but you can't find it.

 

I agree, a sixth rate would definitely qualify as a small ship.  So, time to stop with my completed mizzen yard, and move on to the gaff that I started but stopped.  Maybe I can salvage the aft end of it.   A loose fitted sail it is.  Frankly, I out smarted myself.

 

I appreciate all the help.

 

Thanks,

 

Tom

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