Category Archives: Rigging

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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