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Spar attachment to mast- boats, early 1800's

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I am building a kit LA's Swift, which is a 60 foot +/- schooner used as a pilot boat in the early 1800's.


The kit shows the spars attached to the masts with a metal strip that basically just wraps around the mast.


Tom Cunliffe's "Pilots- the world of pilotage under sail and oar" has several contemporary paintings that would seem to indicate that some spars were in fact attached with what would probably have been an iron strap around the mast.  There is also one photograph where I could interpret what I am seeing this way.


That said, many of the early paintings show virtually no detail, and in many it appears that the top spars are either of one unit with the masts, or have been inserted in holes drilled in the main mast in such a fashion as to make them immobile!  (I guess you could save on rope!).  Several photographs also factually contradict this mounting method for boats built just a few years later.


So, to my question:

Except for the plans that come with this kit and a few water color paintings from the 1800's everything I see says the spars should be attached with wooden jaws and parrels.  The lower booms should sit on a boom rest, the top being supported by a throat halyard.


Does anyone know of any evidence that the "metal strap" method was ever used?  I am working on a learning project, but this detail is starting to really bug me.  I am considering redoing the spars.


Thanks for you expertise and help.

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I am not familar with the metal strap that you reference. Can we see a scan of the plan to see what you are dealing with? I would think that parrels would be the preferred method for securing the spars the mast.



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I have never seen that arrangement before.


The gaff and boom would have wooden jaws on each side of the spar and the ends of the jaws connected with parrels. Chances are that the gaffs would remain aloft and the sail would be furled back to the mast using brail lines. This is instead of the halyards being used to lower the gaff. Certainly this would be the case with the schooner foresail which is completely loose footed, meaning with out a boom. The schooner mainsail was often rigged this way until well into the 19th century.



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Hey, Popjack -


That is a strange looking method of rigging a boom! 


All my books are packed so I can't dig into this much, I have done a quick internet search for examples and while most are of modern models (and thus mixed utility to resolve the question), most of these model plans show a traditional gaff and boom rig with jaws and lift halliard for the gaff. 


You may be able to find some information about virginia Pilot Boats of the early 19th century in Chapelle's The Search for Speed under Sail or The Baltimore Clipper its Orgin and Development.  Another option may be in David MacGregor's The Schooner its Design & development from 1600 to the Present


Hope these help a little!


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To me this looks like a simplified arragement for the model. As noted by Russ, I would expect a pair of wooden jaws resting on a wooden collar for the boom. Sometimes the jaws were reinforced by metal straps, but these would not go all the way around the mast.





panta rhei - Everything is in flux



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