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GrandpaPhil

Fore Gaff Sail and Main Stay Sail on a Baltimore Clipper Rig

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The plans for the Prince de Neufchatel show a main stay sail in the same space that the fore gaff sail should be occupying.  I’ve never done a full set of sails on a schooner/Baltimore clipper rig before.  What am I not seeing and how would this work?

 

Does one sail sit off to the side?

 

If I am going to billow the sails, how do I make them not interfere with one another?

DDD27066-2A15-4F98-A166-5F40218D53D0.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

It may be a question of whether they would have been set together in practice..

 

Depending on the tack, the gaff sail could be set pretty far to one side or the other  of the stay..

 

However, changing tack with both sails set, would involve a lot of re-arranging of that stay sail tackle..

Edited by Gregory

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I wonder if it was used for tacking, because the main forestay would have prevented the fore gaff sail from moving side to side.

 

A main staysail would have been able to be moved side to side in time with the main sail.

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I’m displaying my model running under full sails including the studding sails.  If the main staysail was just used for tacking, then I won’t worry about it.

 

I’m making the fore gaff right now.

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Yes, it is definitely two legged.  I’m not 100% on exactly where the split should have been, I made a guess based on other models, but it terminates at two separate points.

 

 I had planned on putting the gaff sail to the starboard side of them.  

 

All the pictures that I have found of a Baltimore Clipper under full sail has the bottom corner of the gaff sail basically at the starboard rail.

 

That’s why I’m confused about the staysail.  I didn’t even notice it on the plans until I started making yards, gaffs and booms today.

8434F772-6836-41C4-81EC-7840C20DD941.jpeg

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I don't know anything about this particular ship and how the rigging-plan was developed. However, running the main-stay down to the base of the foremast and having a fore gaff-sail together seems to me rather unsual. I would expect the main-stay to go down to the cap of the fore-mast. Then the gaff would clear the stay underneath. The square sail should clear the gaff, but would need probably some sort of brails to lift the sheets over the stay - the sheets are drawn above correctly with one leg hanging over the main-stay.

 

In the current arrangement, when tacking, the fore-sail would need to be clewed-up to the gaff/mast and then the sheet lifted over the stay, which would be rather awkward. As only one sheet is drawn, it would need to be unfastened and fastened again. A rather strange arrangement.

 

However, the early 19th century (which is the period of the ship in question, I believe), was a period of experimentation and not all arrangements were fully thought through, I suppose.

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On 5/27/2019 at 6:39 AM, wefalck said:

running the main-stay down to the base of the foremast and having a fore gaff-sail together seems to me rather unsual. 

 

There are two stays, set up with tackle. It’s wonky but it’s how it was done, and still done today on Baltimore Clippers like Pride and Amistad. 

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In this picture of Pride II, there are two taut lines runnig from the bottom of the main masthead to around the foot of the foremast, but close to the bulwarks on either side.  Are these the dual main stays?

 

pride-of-baltimore_0_1443743_XLarge.jpg

 

And then in this picture (also of Pride II), there's a slack line running diagonally across the fore gaff sail, from the top aft to the bottom forward.  Is his the starboard main stay?  Or is that the fore gaff halyard?

 

If that's not the starboard main stay, where is it then?  Or was that dual main stay only rigged as a preventer stay while in port?

 

As to the original question, Chapelle mentions (in The Baltimore Clipper, but I can't remember exactly where) that the main stay typically went from the top of the mainmast head to the foremast head, thereby clearing the fore-gaff.  The fore-stay then went from about the same point on the foremast head down to the bowsprit.

As far as I understand it, these schooners were built for fast sailing in light, variable airs, manned by few sailors (in fact, they often went under in heavy weather).  So the rigs had to be easy to change quickly to take advantage of every faint breeze.

 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, those were the dual main stays.

 

Thank you for posting the picture.  I’m glad to see that I guessed correctly on how I ran the stays.

Edited by GrandpaPhil

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It looks like I left out a picture.  It was supposed to be this one:

bal-pridea1-20020405

Here you can see a slack line running diagonally across the fore gaff sail, from the top aft to the bottom forward.  Is his the starboard main stay?  Or is that the fore gaff halyard?

Here's another picture where it's shown clearly:

Hero-Image-Pride-of-Baltimore-II.jpg

This picture shows a line running from the bottom of the main masthead (or slightly below), forward and diagonally down and then terminates in a single block.  The line that passes through the block looks like it could be the fore yard's port side brace.  But it doesn't look like there's a starboard brace, similarly rigged.  I can't see a main stay in this picture.

default.jpg

 

This picture shows no main stay.  It does show what looks like dual fore gaff halyards.

AJ7ZDOQAZJF6JBRNPFMOADVFQE.jpg

 

And then this picture muddles everything.  It shows a fore gaff halyard ... and also a main stay (single, running down to starboard.

2017may13_departure_credit-jeffrey-g-kat

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My theory is that the main stay runs from the top of the main masthead to the top of the fore masthead, clearing the tip of the fore gaff.  You can see a think line in that area in almost all the pictures, making me think that it's standing rigging.

 

The taut line (sometimes two) running from the bottom of the main mast head to somewhere around the fore chains is then a preventer stay, used in port (to prevent the masts from rolling out) and in heavy weather (to prevent the main stay from breaking).

 

The slack lines running diagonally down and forward is then either the fore yard's braces, or the fore gaff's halyards.  My money is on the latter.  The fore yard's braces look like much thinner lines than the gaff halyards.

 

That's my 2 cents' worth, anyway.  I don't know anything, like you, I'm trying to puzzle this out, bit by bit.  I'm currently busy with an untitled Baltimore Clipper build* and the plans have nothing on rigging.  The kit also didn't contain any blocks, deadeyes or yard fittings.  There was a couple of feet of fluffy brown thread.  So fun times.

 

* I bought the kit inexpensively on Amazon, not knowing the first thing about ship models.  After having completed the hull, I found out about banned kits and saw that I had bought one.  So now I'm determined to finish it as well as I can, learning as much as I can.  After that, I'm buying one of Chuck's kits.  As yet I'm completely undecided between the barge, longboat and Cheerful.

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Posted (edited)

Leopard,

 

Thank you very much for your comments. I am tempted to agree with your interpretation of the stays and preventers. But looking through Chapelle's "Baltimore Clipper" (1968) I find many illustrations showing the stays from the main top to near the base of the fore mast.

 

Awkward though it may be, it would be possible to tack the fore gaff with the two stays running from the main top to the base of the fore mast. To do this the fore gaff would be lowered to the deck, swung to the other side, and raised again. Another way would be to reef the fore gaff sail, lifting the sail to the gaff and then moving the halyard over the stays. Then the sail could be lowered on the opposite side of the stays. Chapelle's "Baltimore Clipper" shows a slaver with the two main stays running to the base of the fore mast, and with the fore gaff sail reefed above the stays (plate before page 109), with no stay from the main top to the fore top.

 

Similar arrangements with main stays running to the base of the fore mast with no stay between the tops are shown on plates at pages 45, 66, 67, 70, 71, 78, 79, 114, 115, 136, 142, 143, 151, 169. The Fig 14 and Fig 25 "Baltimore Clipper Schooner - Sail Plan" on pages 130 and 132 also show the main stays rigged to below the fore mast, without the stay between the tops. The Fig 26 sail plan on page 133 shows the main stay from the main top to the fore top, without the stays to the bottom of the fore mast. These drawings are from Maresttier, who drew them from the actual ships he surveyed.

 

If it was just one illustration by one artist that showed the stays to the base of the main mast I might think it was just a mistake. But there are at least 17 instances showing the main stays running to near the base of the fore mast, and I saw only three that did not have these stays, with a stay between tops. Rigging the main stay to the deck at the fo'c'sle was the standard method on square riggers.

 

So, what do we make of this??

 

****

 

Maybe the answer is in George Biddlecombe's "The Art of Rigging" from 1925. In Plate XVI (facing page 111) he shows a topsail schooner with a stay running from the main top to the base of the fore mast. He also shows a stay from the main top to the fore top. On page 109, in "RIGGING A SCHOONER" he states "The main-stay leads to the head of the fore-mast, by which means, the the sail abaft the fore-mast is not obstructed when the vessel goes about, as the peak passes under the stay. There is also two jumper-stays, which set up to an eye-bolt in the deck, just at the after part of the fore-rigging, so that the weather one is always kept taut."

 

I was wondering if both the stays to the deck were rigged at the same time. Only one would be under strain under a given condition (except when the wind was from directly ahead) so the other could be slacked. This may explain the slack line crossing the fore gaff sail in the Pride II pictures - a slack "jumper-stay." Someone who has sailed on the Pride II could answer this puzzle.

 

However, Biddlecombe's book was written in 1925, more than a century after the Baltimore Clipper was being developed. During that time different rigging methods were tried and the style evolved into the 20th century version. Underhill's "Masting and Rigging of the Clipper Ship and Ocean Carrier" says the rigging of British topsail schooners changed over the years and by the 20th century the main stay ran from the main top to the fore top.

 

****

 

Chapelle's "American Sailing Ships" shows the rigging of  the 1812 Prince de Neufchatel (page 147) with the mainstays rigged to the deck at the base of the fore mast. The 1815 80 ton revenue cutter (page 190) and 31 ton revenue cutter (pages 184 and 191) have mainstays to the fo'c'sle deck. The 1825 drop keel revenue cutter (page 197) and a shoal draft cutter with main stays to the fo'c'sle deck (pages 199 and 201). The 1830 built Morris (page 207) has both types of main stays. The Forward of 1831 (page 211) does not have the main stays to the deck. The Joe Lane (ex Campbell) of 1848 does not have the stays to the deck.

 

****

 

I am guessing that the earliest schooners continued the long time practice of running the main stays to the deck at the fo'c'sle. This complicated swinging the fore gaff sail, but far be it from most to part with tradition! However, rigging the main stay to the fore top greatly simplified sail handling, and that would improve performance, especially in combat. The war of 1812 created a "natural selection" for schemes that worked best and were more survivable in combat. Under such conditions traditionalists lose out to those who adapt best.

 

Even so, traditions die hard, and it would seem that for new construction the stays between mast tops were not adopted until the 1820s and main stays to the deck did not disappear completely until the 1830s. But it is possible that the Captains of earlier ships re-rigged their vessels to improve handling.

Edited by Dr PR

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On 8/10/2019 at 12:26 PM, Dr PR said:

Maybe the answer is in George Biddlecombe's "The Art of Rigging" from 1925. In Plate XVI (facing page 111) he shows a topsail schooner with a stay running from the main top to the base of the fore mast. He also shows a stay from the main top to the fore top. On page 109, in "RIGGING A SCHOONER" he states "The main-stay leads to the head of the fore-mast, by which means, the the sail abaft the fore-mast is not obstructed when the vessel goes about, as the peak passes under the stay. There is also two jumper-stays, which set up to an eye-bolt in the deck, just at the after part of the fore-rigging, so that the weather one is always kept taut."

 

I was wondering if both the stays to the deck were rigged at the same time. Only one would be under strain under a given condition (except when the wind was from directly ahead) so the other could be slacked. This may explain the slack line crossing the fore gaff sail in the Pride II pictures - a slack "jumper-stay." Someone who has sailed on the Pride II could answer this puzzle.

I like this interpretation.  I think I'm going to go with that in my build.

It just makes so much sense.  You still have all the strength of a main stay going straight down to the forecastle, but on one tack you can leave one jumper stay slack.  And since the jumper stays might not be quite as strong as a traditional main stay, you also have the stay going to the foremast head.  Another benefit is that you don't deviate too far from tradition.  You can still be said to have a main stay going to the deck, even though it's only technically true.

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I am looking for pictures or drawings that show how these forward running main stays were attached to the deck. I suspect they used a block fastened to a ring bolt in the deck and a traveling block on the stay. This would allow loosening and tightening the stay rapidly and easily. I guess the end of the stay would be wrapped around a cleat near the fixed block.

 

In some of the pictures you posted a block is visible in the line that drapes around the fore gaff sail, but it is pretty high near the gaff. This might not be a stay, as you have proposed.

 

Any ideas?

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