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What rigging goes where? Was it standardized?


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coming to the end of my 1/72 build of the Victory, and i was asked a question about it on another site,

"how did 18th century sailors know what rigging went where" 


subject to the masters fine tuning, if two identical ship were built would each line go in the same position and tied off at the same point


how were young sailors taught this as i quess very few could read


so basically he is asking how would a young sailor know what rope to handle if told to do a specific job





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They of course were trained to "know the ropes"  as the saying is.  Dont think of sailors as being just same untrained landsmen taken by the press gangs. Rigging design and fitting was done by experts and each ship would have some officers or petty officers who could rig their vessel from scratch if needs be.


The crew was graded - able seaman  was a grade for experience and would show the new hands what went where

and the crews were organised  by mast and where so there were groups to deal with thedeck of each mast the foretop men etc ectt



Edited by SpyGlass
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Whilst there was a degree of standardization, the bosun (I think, may have been another non-officer) and sailing master had great leeway with where running lines terminated (belaying points), obviously within the physical constraints of the vessel and total rig.


Once the landsman learned his way around the vessel, including the riggong, he would "test" for his next rate.  If moving to a different ship of same class, there was a shallow learning curve.  A different class or size, though, could be quite different.


There are no references (official or otherwise) from the period which I am aware of that specified the precise run for a line, but rather specified diameter, blocks, attachment points at fixed end and so forth. 


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Almost half the time, the rigging was handled in the dark.  Crew was open to change at every port.  Their nationality was varied.  Navy crew altered.

In severe weather the lines were handled under real stress.  There was every reason for having which line was where be as standardized as possible.

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A certain standardisation and composing gangs of men of different levels of knowledge and experience. Most parts were too heavy to handled by one sailor alone, so one would group experienced and unexperienced sailors together. Experience comes very fast with the nine-tailed cat being around ...

There were no formal qualifications and exams for sailors of non-officer grades. They were moved on in hierarchy, if their superiors were satisfied with their qualities.

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