Yes you're up a hundred feet or more standing on a rope, a wire rope (served with Marline impregnated with Stockholm Tar which gives fantastic grip and smells even better) that sometimes goes over 45deg as she rolls but you hang on, sailors tend to have fantastic grip!
A well found rig will have set dimensions, ie the distance the footrope hangs below the yard is a known distance on all ships which allows you to brace your knees between yard and footrope and at a height for the average man to have his belly over the yard so he can use both hands to get the sail in.
The sail is first hauled up to the yard from the deck (the arm is only the very tip of the yard usually painted white) with the Clewlines and the Bunt lines, like a Venitian blind, the crew then go aloft and pleat the sail onto the top of the yard by tucking each pleat under their bellies, the last pleat is the head of the sail which is tied to an iron rod along the top of the yard called the Headstay, you form a pocket the full length of the yard and together push the pleated sail off the top of the yard into the pocket where you punch and punch it into as small a 'sausage' as it will go.
Now comes the hardest (next to getting the wind out of a sail to be able to start pleating) and most dangerous bit,
You have the whole sail in what is hoped a long smooth and tight roll on the front face of the yard and need to get it onto the top, Everyone puts both hands over the front of the sail and together at the same moment roll the sail up ontop of the yard, this means you are leaning backwards with the footrope having swung forwards under the yard and both hands on top of a smooth roll of sail, modern square riggers have a backrope the full length onto which you clip your harness just incase, older ships had Beckets, a rope loop on the Headstay which a sailor could hook an arm through. A very well found ship might even have another iron rod along the top of the yard (see Discovery photo) purely there as a handrail for the sailors, known as the Jackstay.
The sail is then secured to the top of the yard with short lengths of rope known as Gaskets, each individual Gasket is permanently fixed and coiled a special way so that they remain coiled in any weather, if you ever see a closeup of a square sail full of wind from the front you will see the gaskets hanging along the top of the sail close to the yard. .
What I have described here is called a harbour stow, starting at the highest sail and working down as you can see on Sorlandet, harder work but done to show the ship off in port 'Bristol fashion' as well as protecting the sail from rain and sun when not in use. Canvas sails would often have a sacrificial head tabling for this purpose as well as for chafe against the yard. In the case of shortening sail at sea the Bunted up sail might just be rolled up onto the yard 'in the bunt' and the gaskets quickly tied around it for the duration of the blow. I had to go aloft with one other fellow in a force 11 mid Atlantic to re tie the Main Royal, the very topmost sail, whose gaskets had come undone and the sail was flogging 'in the bunt' fit to shake the top section of mast out of her. We weren't under sail but riding it out with the wheel lashed and all crew below so the ship was rolling very badly, rail under to rail under, at 110ft up that was a ride
and a half!
When setting sail only one or two 'boys' need go aloft to cast off the Gaskets and push the rolled up sail off the top of the yard to hang in it's gear, the rest is all done from the deck. When you see Errol Flynn or Jack Sparrow giving the order to make sail and the whole crew of burly men rush to the shrouds to go aloft…….. that's the romantic bit, and very incorrect!
I am not familliar with the term 'sluice' in reference to sails but it might mean to wash the salt out of them before stowing them below? I have my Dana to hand, page? As to what else one can 'do up there' once my work as a rigger was done I would sometimes find a corner to tuck myself away, don my shades, switch on the Walkman, open a book, slosh on the lotion and sunbathe, occasionally make a noise against some ironwork with a spanner or spike to fool the Bosun……..
What everyone needs to remember is that TOL is a romantic work of fiction and not to take all you see and hear as gospel.
— On Thu, 2/5/13, Lee Bonnifield <email@example.com> wrote:
On 5/1/2013 4:02 AM, R wrote:
> In my experience all the nice girls liked a sailor, not much sign of
> contempt there!
In 19th century, crimping! Legal slavery, if a man can be drugged or
knocked unconscious near the docks.
> Plus going aloft isn't all that dangerous,
but but but you're standing on a rope? with arms over a polished smooth
(maybe wet) yardarm? & both hands occupied in pulling up canvas? Sounds
like a balancing act to me even without wind and rain and pitching ship
movements, exaggerated at that height. And if you fall into the sea you
won't be visible by the time a fast ship starts back? James left newbie
Samuel clinging to the rigging in a storm just for seasoning S5N5 The
We never see details of the action aloft. And I forgot after reading
Dana 30 years ago — I'm not clear on what you do up there — raise the
bottom edge of square sails (reef)? tie it (with what?) to yard
(dictionary says sailor rolls it up hence he's called "reefer".) Untie
it? And why sluice sails S?N? ?
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