Top (sailing ship)

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The foretop of the Prince William. Note the futtock shrouds (white-painted rods angling inwards) and jacob's ladders; extending upwards are the topmast shrouds with their rope ratlines. Prince William foretop.jpg
The foretop of the Prince William . Note the futtock shrouds (white-painted rods angling inwards) and jacob's ladders; extending upwards are the topmast shrouds with their rope ratlines.

The top on a traditional square rigged ship, is the platform at the upper end of each (lower) mast. [1] This is not the masthead "crow's nest" of the popular imagination – above the mainmast (for example) is the main-topmast, main-topgallant-mast and main-royal-mast, so that the top is actually about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the mast as a whole.

Contents

The main purpose of the top is to anchor the shrouds of the topmast that extends above it. Shrouds down to the side of the hull would be at too acute an angle from the mast, so crosstrees running sideways out from the mast to spread the topmasts shrouds. These crosstrees rests on two trestle trees running for and aft, which themself are placed on top of the cheeks of hounds, bolted to the sides of the mast. Placing a few timbers onto the crosstrees produces a useful platform, the top. The futtock shrouds carry the load of the upper shrouds into the mast below. [2]

At the upper end of the topmast and topgallant, there is a similar situation regarding the next mast up (topgallant and royal respectively). At these points a smaller top might be constructed, but it is more usual simply to leave the shroud-bearing struts open, in which case they are known as crosstrees.

Access for sailors to the top may be by a Jacob's ladder, lubber's hole, or the futtock shrouds.

A foremast might be stepped into a similar fore-top platform on the foremast. A mizen-top would be a platform on the mizenmast. [3] Similar main-top and fore-top platforms have been retained on steam ships and motor vessels as preferred locations for installing rotating radar antennae.

Fighting top

A fighting top was an enlarged top with swivel guns, designed to fire down at the deck of enemy ships. They could also be manned by sailors or marines armed with muskets or rifles; Horatio Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar by a sniper firing from a fighting top of the Redoutable.

Sources

  1. Knight, Austin M. (1942). Knight's Modern Seamanship (Tenth ed.). New York: D. Van Nostrand. p. 826.
  2. Charles G. Davis, The Ship Model Builders Assistant, Marine Research Society, Salem Massachusetts, 1926, side 62 / fig.:52
  3. Keegan, John (1989). The Price of Admiralty . New York: Viking. pp.  278&279. ISBN   0-670-81416-4.

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Standing rigging

Standing rigging comprises the fixed lines, wires, or rods, which support each mast or bowsprit on a sailing vessel and reinforce those spars against wind loads transferred from the sails. This term is used in contrast to running rigging, which represents the moveable elements of rigging which adjust the position and shape of the sails.

Mast (sailing)

The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall spar, or arrangement of spars, erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of a ship or boat. Its purposes include carrying sails, spars, and derricks, and giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship. Nearly all sailing masts are guyed.

This is a partial glossary of nautical terms; some remain current, while many date from the 17th to 19th centuries. See also Wiktionary's nautical terms, Category:Nautical terms, and Nautical metaphors in English. See the Further reading section for additional words and references.

Square rig Generic type of sail and rigging arrangement

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Jacobs ladder (nautical)

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Topmast

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Crosstrees

Crosstrees are the two horizontal spars at the upper ends of the topmasts of sailing ships, used to anchor the shrouds from the topgallant mast. Similarly, they may be mounted at the upper end of the topgallant to anchor the shrouds from the royal mast. Similar transverse spars remain on steam ship and motor vessel masts to secure wire antennae or signal flag halyards.

Sprit topmast

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