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Capt. Dave

French standing rigging

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Hello folks

                  I have recently began to build the French schooner 'Marseille' from the Dusek Ships/Mamoli kit and having little knowledge of the period I am unsure if like British ships of that era tarred their standing rigging. The kit came with only brown cordage. Secondly, apart from the blurb on the Dusek web site (French schooner of 1764. Reconstruction executed on original drawings of the time ), I can find no information regarding the Marseille 1764 being an actual ship. I would be grateful if anyone can help.

With thanks Dave

 

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Hi Dave,

Welcome to MSW.  Please tell us a little about yourself including where you are from.

 

Regarding your question, I am not very familiar with French ships, but the Art of Ship Modeling by Bernard Frolich gives a little information on rigging for French vessels.  Looking at the many model photos in this book, the standing rigging actually looks to be "un-tarred but he writes that, he uses two basic rigging colors in DMC cotton, dark (walnut) for standing rigging, and beige for running rigging.  He does not differentiate for various years, but the book includes ships both before and after 1764.   Your call in the end, but dark brown for standing rigging (not black) and tan for running should be OK.  I defer to experts on rigging French vessels in this motley crew of ours at MSW.

Allan 

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I can't speak with specific authority to period French standing rigging, but I expect it would have had to be tarred. Otherwise, it wouldn't have lasted when exposed to the elements nor had the strength properties desired. "Stockholm tar" (pine tar) was a valued essential naval store for all nations during the age of sail, France included. Pine tar is naturally blackish brown in color. Newly tarred cordage will appear lighter, the shade depending upon the color of the tar and the color of the cordage, but with exposure and additional maintenance coats will darken considerably. From a "scale viewing distance," it will appear black or very, very dark brown.  Additionally, "lamp black" (carbon) was often added to the pine tar to inhibit UV degradation and, thinned with turpentine, to make black paint, as seen on many period hulls.

 

For these reasons, standing rigging appears blackish brown or black from a distance, while running rigging was lighter, depending upon the fiber used to make it.  Hemp was a frequent cordage material. It is medium to darker brown.

 

Below are some a contemporary models in the Musee National de la Marine in Paris. It appears that they depict a range of colors from medium browns through black colored rigging. The standing rigging appears predominantly darker blackish brown or black, as would be expected for tarred cordage, while the more flexible cordage, the running rigging and anchor cable, are more brown. (The colors can be "off" due to variables in the lighting and photography, of course.)

 

You wouldn't go wrong with either very dark brown or black for standing rigging, I don't think.

 

 

Marine-Museum.jpg

 

IMG_3555-745873.jpg

 

IMG_3549-733877.jpg

 

friedland.jpg?key=e215daxahjroz8at5dwwxa

 

 

MuseeMarine-Ocean-p1000425.jpg

 

 

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From my readings and research on the models I'm building, Bob is right.   The color of the tar depends on the rope, age, etc.  

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2 hours ago, uss frolick said:

What was the purpose of the netting on the anchor on Bob's third picture, I wonder?

Good question! I wondered the same myself. I've never seen that before. It appears to be attached between the stock and outboard fluke of the aftermost anchor.

 

The only guess I could come up with, and it's purely a guess, would be that it prevented the sounding lead line from fouling on the outboard anchor arm and provided a place for the leadsman to stand when casting and recovering it.  Soundings were customarily taken from the forward chains and required the leadsman to be positioned as directly above the lead on the bottom as possible when the sounding was taken. The lead line would be cast well forward as the ship was moving forward. Depending upon the speed of the ship (which should have been slow if in water so thin that soundings were necessary) and the depth of the water, throwing a heavy lead far enough forward would require a pretty good swing to ensure the lead hit bottom before the leadsman came directly above the lead. Thus, with the lead on the bottom directly below the leadsman, an accurate sounding would be possible with the line running perpendicular to the bottom. (If the leadline were at an angle when the sounding was taken, the sounding would necessarily be "long," which would decidedly not be a good thing in water shallow enough to require soundings to be taken!)  The lead would then be hauled back up for the next cast, but the ship would be moving continuously, such that the leadline tends to trail aft as it's recovered. With the aftermost anchor's arm sticking out, the fluke arm would prevent the leadsman's swinging the lead enough to throw it far enough forward and when recovering the lead, the line would trail aft and foul in the crotch of the fluke arm. That netting would permit the leadsman to position himself far enough outboard to clear the anchor fluke for swinging and recovering the lead and permit the leadsman access to a perpendicular drop for reading the line. 

 

That's just a complete guess, though, based on my experience taking soundings with a leadline.

 

What a ship of the line would be doing taking soundings at battle stations with all of her guns run out is another question entirely! :D

 

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Good theory! Might it also discourage an important object, say the jib or the fore-course, from accidentally hooking the anchor fluke when when being hauled in, during a brisk breeze and ripping the cloth? It could still snag with the net there, but it might be less likely to tear, while the net allows the hands a platform on which to stand whilst clearing it?

 

It catches flying fish for the wardroom table? 😜

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Jean Boudriot's magnus opus The 74 Gun Ship, age 95 Vol 3 outlines the tarring of rope.  Bob and Mike have it right.

 

USS Frolick has it right: The net on the anchor is to prevent the fore course from snagging on the fluke when the course is hauled inboard, and the stunsil when deployed.       Duff

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