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Question about upper deck arrangement of hatches and companionways on Lyme plans

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Hi everyone, 


While fitting the bulkheads to the keel on my Unicorn build, I'm designing the upper deck layout of the hatches and companionways, etc.  Corel's plnas call for a relatively closed waist with a series of contiguous hatches.  I will open the waist, and modify the arrangement of the upper deck to also include companionways.  Fortunately, I was able to download from the NMM the profile plan and upper deck plans of the Lyme, the Unicorn's sister ship, which gives the details needed.







As you can see, there are two sets of stairs running down from the upper deck to the lower deck in the waist area.  The first is a very steep set of stairs just aft of the riding bitts.  The second is a main set of stairs running just ahead of the grating in front of the main mast.  I'm a bit confused on both sets of stairs, and was hoping to get some input from folks on here.


1.  First stairs. For the steep set of stairs running down and forward that are just aft of the riding bitts, how would the companionway work so that it didn't interfere with the riding bitts?  Would there be stanchions and railings around it like the other companionways?  It seems like it stanchions and railings would run too close to the riding bitts.  Instead, I could always add a hatchway like on the Badger (pictured below), though it probably suffers from the same issue of bumping against the riding bitts.





2.  Second stairs.  On the second set of stairs in front of the main mast, the stairs go down and towards the bow.  So, to go onto that set of stairs, you would have to step on the gratings that are immediately behind them.  That doesn't strike me as right, or even safe for crew.  


Do these plans make sense?  In looking at plans for similar ships like the Pandora and the Guadeloupe, the upper deck did not incorporate the first set of stairs, and the second set are not contiguous with the gratings behind them.  I could go that route, but I'm trying to build the Unicorn as accurately as possible even if it means adding these odd companionways.


Thanks very much in advance!

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Unfortunately it is not clear on the drawing, at least to me, which are the companionways and which the hatches.


Generally though, the drawings would have made sense to those who drew them up, and they are obviously genuine. Warships were pretty cramped – certainly ones of the size of Lyme and Unicorn – and what might look awkward and confined to us, to the seamen of the day were considered as normal.


There were also most likely rules and regulations as to what parts of the ship could be used during a particular operation. Thus when the anchor was being weighed or let go, it may perhaps have been the rule (known to all on board) not to use the forward companionway. As to the stanchions and railings, these would have been quite easily removable when the cable was being worked, and then replaced – but there was probably also a means of closing the hatch to prevent accidents, very likely a grating. You suggest a hatch cover but I would have thought a grating much more likely, since one of the prime considerations would have been to circulate air below decks.


As to the companion forward of the main mast, I can't see that stepping on the grating if you had to, would present a particular problem. The holes in it would probably not be big enough for a man to easily get his foot stuck – and I think they would have been strong enough to bear the weight of a seaman or two!


I imagine the Pandora and Guadaloupe were later ships (?) where the designer had other ideas.

Edited by Stockholm tar
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Hi Kester, thanks very much for your thoughts.  I was hoping that you would weigh in :)


In terms of the companionways versus the hatches, I'm fairly certain that the two I identified are the companionways.  I used the highly scientific approach of opening both pictures on my computer, put one on top of the other, and expanded them until the masts lined up.  Then used a piece of paper as a straight edge to draw a vertical line from the stairs to the respective openings  :huh:


All that makes a lot of sense, and is what my other go to person, Ian, said  :)  The two companionways seem a bit awkward, but with tight quarters, nothing should surprise me I suppose.  The Unicorn was also based off a French ship (the Tygre), so maybe that explains things as well :rolleyes:    You are indeed correct that the Pandora and Guadaloupe were later designs off the Lyme class.


Thank you!

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Once heard on the 1-MC on the Helena, CA 75, think it was in 62: All hands Forward go Aft. All hands Aft go Forward. All hands Amidships, direct traffic, hehehe. The rules for the use of passageways and ladders was strictly enforced during emergencies and going to General Quarters which involved all hands being on the move at once. Those rules were simple, travel forward and up on the Starboard side, travel Aft and down on the Port side, the necessary travel from side to side was at your own risk, topside it was the gun crews crossing center-line on the run. As crowded as those old warships were, it makes good sense to have some movement rules in place to keep the flow moving up and down ladders and the direction of traffic on all decks, those rules probably were extended to the flow of seamen on all masts and shrouds.


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