Category Archives: Rigging

Crow’s Nests : Part 2 — Floki, Ravens and Fighting Tops

The crows nest, as a shelter for the lookout on whaling ships sailing the icy waters of the Arctic, was by all indications, invented by Captain William Scoresby around 1807.  (See yesterday’s post:  Crow’s Nests : Part 1 — Melville & … Continue reading

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Climbing to the Royal Yard on the Whaleship Charles W. Morgan

Great video of climbing to the royal yard on the Charles W. Morgan. Atop the world on the Charles W. Morgan

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Don’t Lean on the Running Rigging

This video has been around for some time, but I smile every time I see it.  Yes, it is in Dutch, but that hardly matters. Watch until the end.  The journalist is interviewing the mayor of the city of Kampen, … Continue reading

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Port Strike Ends & How Containerization Shaped the Modern World

The eight day port strike on the West Coast is over, thank goodness. On November 27th, a group of 450 clerks in the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, who had worked without a contract for over two years, walked out. … Continue reading

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Knots on Mars! Hard to Improve on a Clove Hitch and a Reef Knot

There is a wonderful discussion on the International Guild of Knot Tyers Forum titled “Knots on Mars! (and a few thoughts on NASA’s knots)” by Dfred.   I had never given much thought as to  how cable bundles on satellites and space craft … Continue reading

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Honoring the Bicentenial of the War of 1812 with the Captain and Crew of Lynx “America’s Privateer”

On April 14th, at the Mystic Seaport Museum there will be a celebration of the anniversary of the War of 1812 with the captain and crew of the Lynx, “America’s Privateer.”   Historian and award winning author, William H. White, will be … Continue reading

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How to Tie the Celtic Heart Knot (and Happy Valetine’s Day)

Happy Valentines Day to all.  In honor of the day, here is a video by Tying It All Together showing how to tie a Celtic Heart Knot. How to Tie the Celtic Heart Knot by TIAT (A Knotty Valentine) Seu browser … Continue reading

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Essential Knots & Hitches You May Never Need : The Highwayman’s Hitch

Everyone should know at least a few knots and hitches. The square knot, the bowline, and clove hitch come immediately to mind. Then there are all the other “essentials” that you may never need but are great to know.  One good example … Continue reading

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The ‘impossible’ voyage of a Tamil ghost ship

Despite all odds, earlier this month, 492 Tamil refugees arrived in Vancouver in an old and barely seaworthy ship, then named the Sun Sea.  The Tamil Ghost ship, as she has been dubbed,  had been intermittently tracked by the maritime authorities of various nations as she … Continue reading

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Schooner Amistad Returns to Mystic for Repairs after Rigging Failure

After suffering what was described as “serious rigging failure” in heavy seas off the Florida coast last week, the schooner Amistad has returned to Mystic, CT for repairs.   She is expected to “be there for some time.”  The Amistad was built at … Continue reading

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Animated Knots and Marlinspike Sailors

For those wishing to learn just a bit about sailor’s knots, Animated Boating Knots by Grog is a lot of fun.  Here is a rolling hitch, a marvelously useful knot that I invariably forget how to tie whenever a need one.   If … Continue reading

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My Quest for Catharpins

“Ignorance of the crosscatharpins is not necessarily fatal. Explanation almost certainly would be.”
Patrick O’Brian.

The cliché goes that there are two types of people – those who believe that there are two types of people and those who don’t. There are no doubt many more than two types of types of readers of nautical fiction. Nevertheless my guess is that as it applies to jargon, there may indeed be only two types.

The first type, and probably the smarter of the two, are those who read the jargon and let the words wash over them like a breaking wave, catching what they can in context but not caring too very much if they understand the finer points of rigging an eighteenth century ship, or, as is often the case in Patrick O’Brian’s books, the lost art of English suet puddings with exotic names like “drowned baby” and “spotted dick”. Their approach is like that of reading the more technical sub-genres of science fiction, where one need not necessarily understand quantum physics to enjoy the story. (Indeed, I suspect too much understanding of the science might get in the way.) Continue reading

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