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Yard angle


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Probably a silly question but if I attach the yards to the mast heavily angled (I have forgotten the technical term but basically at 45 degrees to the mast and not squared on) then would that have been something never done (without sails when it would obviously).


The space saving would be considerable when storing/displaying and though I know as my model it does not matter and there are also far more display issues (cannons run out yet the ship is like the Marie Celeste etc etc) I dont want to do something that would never have been seen either...


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Hi Matrim


I’ve seen photos of clippers & cargo ships alongside in Sydney with their lower/longer yards acockbill (canted vertically) due to the proximity of the warehouse. Hmm, that could make an interesting diorama.


I believe all yards acockbill was also used as a sign of mourning, presumably when a ship was at anchor.




Mark D

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Cockbilled yards are when the yards are tilted in the vertical rather than horizontal plane. In past times, yards acockbill signified the same thing as a flag at half staff; a sign of mourning.

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30 minutes ago, druxey said:

Cockbilled yards are when the yards are tilted in the vertical rather than horizontal plane. In past times, yards acockbill signified the same thing as a flag at half staff; a sign of mourning.



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There are many photographs of square rigged ships with yards 'cockbilled' in small European ports moored alongside quays or in packs at posts mid-river. The reasons was to not foul each other's yards, when moving around.

For instance, in many southern Baltic ports the Scandinavian wood ships were moored vertical to the quay - like modern yacht fashion, but with the bows to the quay, so that the timber could be discharged from the bow-ports. They have invariably their yards cockbilled to allow as many ships as possible on the quay.


The degree by which a yard can be braced up depends on the position of the yard relative to the shrouds. In more modern ship the iron cranes and parrels were designed to put the yard further away from the mast in order to clear better the shrouds. Until the middle of the 19th century the degree by which particularly lower yards could be braced was quite limited, perhaps 20° or so.

Edited by wefalck



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Good Afternoon Matrim;


If you are thinking of bracing the yards round with sails furled, or sent down, then the following comment will not apply. However, if you are depicting them with any sails set, then note that the upper yards were braced around closer to the wind than the lower ones. Viewed from above, the yards would look like the plan of a spiral stair, although with the angle between each yard being much less than in an actual stair.


All the best,


Mark P

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