I was actually hoping they would catch that snake earlier in the episode so we could see him thrown in prison for everything, including the White Slave Trade – after Onedin and his clan rescued the girl van der Rheede sold to a slaver while trying to cover his tracks. We know van der Rheede went to prison, but the rest of that story was left open-ended so my imagination says they did rescue the girl (she'd written a letter to "Mrs." Onedin (thinking it was still Letty) spilling the beans on van der Rheede, so they'd have a return address to track her down).
Aside from that ambiguous ending, my only complaint about Series 8 is that it really needed that final, 10th episode to round things off. They could have finished the series so much better with just one more episode. (It was – and still is – so popular that I'm surprised they made only nine, and not ten as they had from Series 4 on.)
But maybe that's just me.
It was the evil Max Van Drader that James was after
No problem, Lee. that's what we're here for – to help people understand all things nautical (and of course, primarily, 'The Onedin Line').
You're right; fore-and-aft sails did/still do also have reefing bands and points, and no one had to go aloft to do the reefing when it was done. Notice how the reef bands are on the lower end of the sail. To shorten a fore-and-aft sail you just lower the gaff (the small boom at the top of the sail) and tie the reef points off at the bottom. That's what makes vessels like schooners easier for fewer people to handle. Theoretically all you need is one or two people per mast, plus one at the helm, a mate, and a captain (and a cook if you really don't want to "round robin" the job). So a three-masted schooner can operate with a crew of as little as 12-14, and they can work all masts simultaneously if necessary. A full-rigged ship (such as the CUTTY SARK) would take a crew upwards of 55 or more, and they'd be working one mast at a time.
And if I remember the episode in question correctly, James was chasing another ship down, gaining, and sluicing his sails to outrun even faster it before it entered someone's territorial waters. (Which didn't stop James anyway as I think he had to send his small boat into those territorial waters to get the person he was after.)
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