Ship question

Discussion in 'Ship & Watercraft Models' started by Ashrunner, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    Not being a ship fanatic, I am having a problem with a few things. Currently, I am listening to C.S. Forester's Hornblower books on tape. Good books, but when the reader starts talking about (and excuse the spellings here) mizzenmast, top sails, foksail and other parts of the ship (HMS Indefatible or something like that) I can't visualize what is being talked about.

    So, my question is there a website (I have searched, but limited as I don't know exactly what to search for) which shows ships with the various areas labeled so I can understand and visualize better what is mentioned in the book?
  2. Matthias

    Matthias New Member

    It looks bad at first, but ship rigging itself breaks down in a pretty straightforward way once you get over the initial hump. This site looks sensible about it:

    I think probably the biggest point straight away is that what most people think of a mast (one of three on the "Indy") is actually made up of a number of smaller spars, and the sails and parts of the rigging are named for the mast section that they are attached to.

    Where this all gets very very confusing is that the basic terminology, while standardised, sometimes falls afoul of actual or semantic variations in vessel type/class/rigging. I think the Indy was rigged as a "full-rigged ship", with three masts each built up to the royals. This makes her rig at least pretty much what you'll find in any book/diagram. I think the ship itself started out as a 3rd rate ship of the line that was cut down to a frigate by removing a deck and 20 cannon.

    The vessel in the television series is unfortunately quite different, being much smaller, carrying fewer guns and much smaller rigging (remember the Indefatiguable was basically a 3 rater). The Grand Turk, which stands in for the series is also rigged fore/aft on the mizzen mast.

  3. modano1

    modano1 Member

  4. SCEtoAux

    SCEtoAux Member

    I believe the 'foksail' of which you write is actually the 'fo'castle' which is a shortened pronunciation of 'forecastle'. It is at the front, or fore, part of a ship raised above the main weather deck.

    I believe the HMS Indefatible of which you write is the HMS Indefatigable in which Hornblower served as a Leftenant (Lieutenant).

    On a three masted ship the foremast is the mast that is further forward (towards the pointy end of the ship[​IMG]), the mainmast is the one in the middle and is usually the largest, and the mizzenmast is the one closest to the back of the ship.

    "Man the braces" means to haul on the lines (braces) that rotate the yardarms (what the sails are hung from) around the masts. They help in angling the sails in the most efficient way to gain full advantage of the wind.

    Here is a glossary that might help
    Glossary of Tall Ship Terms

    Here is some information on 18th century Naval Ships
    18th Century Ships
  5. cdcoyle

    cdcoyle Member

  6. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member


    I’ll send you a diagram off list.

    C.S. Forester was not an expert on sailing ships so you can find some errors in his books but they sure are a great read. If you like Hornblower you should read the Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series

    Jim Nunn
  7. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    Thanks for the help everyone. And I am sorry about some of the misspellings. It would be a lot better if I was reading the books, but that is easier said than done for me. For now, I am listening to the books on tape, which means someone else has to pronounce those words I stumble HMS Indefatigable 8v) I am surprised I spelled mizzenmast correctly. hehe Or did I?

    Anyway, this water-bound stuff is completely foreign to this old airman, but not totally foreign. I did go on an ice-breaking run in the waters of northern Greenland onboard the USCG Westwind and did a trap in a COD onto the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of The Philippines.

    In both cases, the ship board folks were kind enough to speak English to me. 8v)

    Again, thanks for the help.

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