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Position of yards with furled sails.

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Hello all.

I am building my Vasa with all sails furled. I am placing the upper yards in their lower position. However, the photo in the box of my kit shows the model without sails and with the yards in the top position.

Was there a rule that said that yards with furled or no sails had to be in the lower position, or was this optional?


Thanks for your time.


There aren't but two options: do it FAST, or do it RIGHT.


Current Project Build Log: HMS Surprise 1790. Artesania Latina 1/48

Future projects already in my stash: Panart: San Felipe 1/75; OcCre: Santísima Trinidad 1/90;

Wish List: Le Soleil Royal, 1/64 Amati Victory


So much to build, so little time!



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Sails set = yards raised. Sails furled = yards lowered. That's a rule.


With all the sails set and going at full speed with the wind the stability of the ship increases in the same way as a bicycle keeps its upright position while on movement. This overrides the downside effect of the heavy weight of the yards set up on the masts. Otherwise, with sails furled, each heavy piece would be put as lower as possible. Preparing for heavy seas, the sailors not only would set the yards in the "lower" position, they would sometimes take them down completely. Preparing for very dangerous passages like rounding the Cap Horn, they would even take down the upper segments of the masts! All was done to ease the tops of the ship, otherwise she would become dangerously "top heavy"... a thing which was awfully right for the unfortunate Vasa!


The photo on the box is just a mistake, it really shouldn't be a guide. 

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You're positioning your yards correctly. I'm not sure there was any particular 'rule' but this practice, like many things at sea, would have come through experience.


The hoisting yards, when sail was furled, were lowered down their particular masts to the doublings. This would have been the practice in port or, more especially at sea in rough weather, the idea being to reduce the weight aloft on the masts as far as possible. It was a stability factor. You can get an idea of this if you study paintings, where even if say the royals only are furled, they will be down on the doublings. As has been said, the upper yards and sails would have been brought down on deck in extreme wether.


I believe the only time yards with furled sails were hoisted in port, was probably in the days of the clippers for effect. (There are photos of the Cutty Sark like this.)


This again is one area where kit manufacturers (except the better ones) usually err, and they probably think that a ship doesn't look like a ship unless all the yards are at full hoist, whether the ship has sails or not. When a model doesn't have sails, it makes it look even more ridiculous.


As regards the Vasa, she probably only had her yards in the lowered position once – just before leaving the quay on her maiden voyage! She of course has a lateen yard, and it's debatable how that was handled – whether it was left hoisted, or lowered with the spar resting on the deck and overhanging the taffrail. It may have been more trouble than it was worth to lower it, except in exceptional weather, and I note that the present day Gothenburg normally keeps hers aloft in port.

Edited by Stockholm tar



Current builds: Sherbourne (Caldercraft) scale – 1/64th;


Statsraad Lehmkuhl (half model) 1/8th" – 1'.


Victory Bow Section (Panart/Mantua) scale – 1/78th  (on hold).


Previous build: Bluenose ll (Billings) scale – 1/100th.

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In addition to what has been said above, the sails were set by sheeting home the clews to the lower yard and then hoisting the yards up to their full height. The reverse was done to furl the sails.



Laissez le bon temps rouler ! 



Current Build:  Le Soleil Royal

Completed Build Amerigo Vespucci

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If I may ask another question along these lines:


If a ship is on a starboard tack and has some sails (say all topsails) set that way, should the upper stays also face the same direction?

I don't think it makes a difference unless the topgallant and royal are furled. Righ??



Current build Cross Section USS Constitution  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10120-cross-section-forward-area-of-the-uss-constitution/

Finished USS Constitution:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/103-uss-constitution-by-modeler12/


'A picture is worth a  . . . . .'      More is better . . . .

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