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Ratlines - parallel to what?


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My first build of this type of model, and I'm presently working on the shrouds of my HMS Fly. Looking ahead to the ratlines, I notice on the plans that they are shown parallel to the waterline rather than to the sheer - which, on Fly, is quite pronounced. Most photo's of models, however, show them parallel to the sheerpole (if fitted), which follows the line of the upper deadeyes and is, ergo, parallel to the sheer. So I'm puzzled. If that angle is continued right the way up it will be at variance to the level of the top, and that can't be right, shurley?


I've tried looking for mention of this, without success. Am I imagining a problem that doesn't exist?  Should I just lose the difference gradually over the height of the shrouds? I'm inclined to follow the plans, but I'd really appreciate guidance from the experts on here. Thank you.   

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HI Mel-Drew, ratlines are are installed parrallel to the futtock staff, which is horizontal. 'Rattling down' derives from the practice of starting from the top and going down to the dead eyes.  Dead eyes normally follow the sheer, and so too the stretcher, or sheerpole.  The stretcher, if installed, is to prevent the shrouds from twisting and thereby keeps the lanyards from fouling. 
The stretcher may or may not be horizontal, but the ratlines must be - the sailors must be able to climb them, in all weathers.


Duffer in Middletown, CT

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Thanks for your input, chaps. The majority opinion seems to be that parallel to the waterline is the way to go, which I'm pleased about because it seems to be the most aesthetically pleasing even though it does leave an angle between the line of the deadeyes and the lowest ratline.

After posting this thread, I found, on another forum, a post from Chuck Passaro which also supports the waterline approach.

Thanks again for the replies.

Edited by mel_drew
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  • 2 months later...

Could I ask a related question on the use of stretchers - would these have been installed permanently?  It seems that these are not typically installed on many ships and I'm curious why given the normal obsession with getting everything right.  Any info would be appreciated.


"Which it will be ready when it is ready!"
In the shipyard:

HMS Jason (c.1794: Artois Class 38 gun frigate)

Queen Anne Royal Barge (c.1700)


HMS Snake (c.1797: Cruizer Class, ship rigged sloop)

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