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I'm currently rigging the cannons on my AVS. Am I correct that in order to have formed coils:

  1. Create the coils with extra strait length for rigging
  2. Backthread through the blocks
  3. Adjust to length for the hooks to hang on the rings?
  4. Terminated to the strope of the single block that will be on the carriage
  5. One set left-hand block routing, one set right-hand block routing

Or just manually form the coils on the deck after being installed?


What are some other methods that have or can be used?





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  • 7 years later...

Two comments on the above:


Yes, ropes that are right handed (most rope on a sailing ship) is always coiled right handed - if not coiled 'with the lay' it will kink, which is not what is needed when running it through a block.


"are only normally coiled in pretty flat coils for Admirals to look at."  See the painting of HMS 'Deal Castle' below as proof of this!





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  • 2 months later...
On 5/24/2013 at 12:16 PM, SpyGlass said:

Gun tackle lines were, I believe, either flaked down on the deck when ready for action to allow a free run or frapped up between the blocks at other times.

This is, I believe, correct. Pulling rope from a coil on deck is a task fraught with potential kinks and tangles, unless managed by another hand (person) or two. After two years on a US Navy destroyer and thousands of miles with on deck sea duty coming into port, going out, mooring to bouys, and underway replenishments, when we needed a line to run out quickly with small chance of issues, we always flaked it. They were never stowed on deck in coils unless the Captain wanted them to look pretty. 

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At sea the last thing you want is loose ropes. Those pretty coils would slide all over the place as a ship rolls and soon would be a useless tangled mess and tripping hazard. Coiled ropes were used only for showing the ship in port, and not for everyday use.


Also, I never heard the word "flake" used with lines. Lines were "faked down" on the deck in coils (rare) or figure eights to prepare them for running out, as when the ship pulls up to a berth and the mooring lines have to be run out swiftly without tangling. This is 19th and 20th century US Navy and Royal Navy terminology.


Gunnery books from the 19th century describe laying out the gun tackle in straight bights so it will run through the blocks freely upon recoil. It was not coiled! There are other threads on the Forum describing gun handling and tackle in detail.


Here are two very authoritative sources:


The Young Sea Officers Sheet Anchor, Darcy Lever, RN, 1808, reprinted by George Blunt, USN, 1858. Fake: one circle of a coil of rope. Flake is not used in the book.


The Art of Rigging, CAPT George Biddlecombe, RN, 1925. Fake: one of the turns of a rope when stowed away, or coiled. The word "flake" does not appear in the book.


If anyone can find any authoritative source that uses the term "flake" I would like to see the reference.


I have always thought "flaking" was a lubbers misnomer, like "three sheets to the wind." Sailors know the term is "fore sheets to the wind," as when a sailing vessel is tacking on a zig-zag course with the bow (fore sheets) into the wind, or when a drunken sailor is staggering back to the ship "fore sheets to the wind."



LT USNR Retired

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I understand that Fake relates to ropes on a deck, whereas Flake relates to the laying out of a chain anchor for inspection.

According to the Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea Flake is also an old maritime name for a cradle or stage suspended over a ships side.


Learn something new everyday 🙂



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