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dgrintalis
06-13-2009, 10:03 PM
Would anyone happen to know a few commands which would be given by ship personnel during a storm. Like 'secure the rigging'. I don't need detail, just a few phrases. I'm not sure if the type of ship matters, but I'm envisioning something old, wood, not steel, with tall masts. This is for a brief scene in a horror tale. There isn't a real boat, nor are there real sailors, but I want to make sure I don't use anything which would make a reader toss the book down and say she has no clue what she's talking about.

Thank you in advance!

dpaterso
06-13-2009, 10:15 PM
Batten down the hatches and lash yourself to the wheel!

-Derek

dgrintalis
06-13-2009, 10:21 PM
Thank you Derek, that's perfect!

RJK
06-13-2009, 10:32 PM
Secure all loose gear and batten down the hatches. Close all portholes and watertight doors.
If this were a sailing ship, there would be several orders about taking in the sails, but I don't know what they'd be. Something like "Take in the mainsail."

backslashbaby
06-13-2009, 10:39 PM
Heave to!

You might want to look that up, though, because all I know it always meant that I was supposed to run down into the cabin and stay out of folk's way! :D

dgrintalis
06-13-2009, 10:58 PM
Thank you all!

waylander
06-13-2009, 11:35 PM
"get the sails off her, mister mate and secure for heavy weather"

rupert
06-21-2009, 07:18 PM
Hi Dgrintalis:

I'm new to the site, but finally, something I know at least a little about. Here's a short explanation, followed by the actual answer to your question, that is, some suggested phrases.

The reason a storm is so dangerous for a tall mast sailing ship is that the wind and the waves are coming from the same direction. A motorized ship, when in extreme danger during a storm, will steam directly into the waves, using the narrow pointed bow to split the waves. A sailing ship cannot do that.

So the tall mast sailor tries one of a few other options:

-- sailing straight downwind (called "running") but here the danger is the wave will press against the stern causing something like a "surfing effect" and raising the chance of a "wipeout" (no kidding), that is, a sudden swerving turn and the hull rolling over on its side, perhaps even capsizing , or

-- sailing across the wind (called "reaching"), there is no "surfing" but there is a danger of the waves crashing over the side, this can work before the waves get too big, or

-- sailing as close to the eye of the wind as possible (called "pointing"). If the wind is coming from North (0 degrees), then "reaching" (sailing across the wind) is sailing East (90 degrees) or West (270 degrees). A modern sailboat can "point" all the way up to Northeast (45 degrees) or Northwest (315 degrees). An old tall master cannot do that, and I don't know what they could do, but they could do something better than East (90 degrees), perhaps they could do 70 or 80 degrees. That was a wild ride, charging into the waves at that oblique angle, but it allowed the ship to use the wave-parting design of the bow.

So, as the storm gets worse, here is what I would envision.

1. At the beginning of the storm, the captain would call to "Strike the royals!" He is calling for the striking of the sails at the very top of the mast, the royals. Those sails are smaller, but they provide a lot of leverage; striking them makes the ship more stable. Then, as the storm became worse, he would work his way "down" the mast, striking more sails to reduce sail power and continue to stabilize the ship (getting rid of the sails high up on the mast). From top to bottom, the sails are Royal, Top Gallant, Gallant, Mainsail. He would strike them in this order as the storm became worse.

2. Once everything is struck but the mainsail, the captain would call "Reef the Mainsail!" This means to roll it half way up and only use half the mainsail.

3. I don't think the captain would ever "Strike the mainsail!" That would mean he would lose forward power and ALL control of the ship's direction through the ship's wheel. (No forward motion equals no steering power from a rudder, except maybe to steer while being blown straight downwind like a piece of floating trash).

4. Once the captain got down to a reefed mainsail, he might call for the helmsman to "abandon course" and instead order him to "point." What he is saying is: "To hell with trying to get where we're going, let's try to sail into the wind and save the ship."

5. If that didn't work, he might actually strike the reefed mainsail and use the pressure of the wind against the ship itself (called the "freeboard") to cause some forward momentum, and use the rudder to steer. This means, almost certainly a "reach" or the more dangerous "run." He would probably choose between those two depending which direction gets him to land.

6. If all that seems hopeless, he might actually call "Drop anchor!" and let out all the cable ("Lay out all the chains!"). The anchor cable connects at the bow for this reason. The wind and waves will push the ship back and make it face bow-into-the-wind-and-waves, and there is a chance he can ride out the storm. This is a "last ditch" effort.

7. Other better sailors than me will see many better techniques, but they will (I hope) at least recognize these as sensible reactions to increasing storms.

Hope this helps.

Rupert

scarletpeaches
06-21-2009, 07:19 PM
Would anyone happen to know a few commands which would be given by ship personnel during a storm. Like 'secure the rigging'. I don't need detail, just a few phrases. I'm not sure if the type of ship matters, but I'm envisioning something old, wood, not steel, with tall masts. This is for a brief scene in a horror tale. There isn't a real boat, nor are there real sailors, but I want to make sure I don't use anything which would make a reader toss the book down and say she has no clue what she's talking about.

Thank you in advance!

Allow me to help you with this one.

"Yarr!"

"Splice the mainbrace!"

"Keel-haul the scurvy swines!"

"Seaman Staynes and Roger the Cabin Boy!"

You're welcome.

WriteKnight
06-21-2009, 11:47 PM
Wow, Rupert nailed it pretty well - that's the general course of action for a tall ship, though depending exactly on how she's rigged (Which will vary from country to country and era to era) reefing the mainsail will be an almost universally understood and acknowledged action to be taken at some point in heavy weather - so it might be the command you want to go to as a general reference.

DWSTXS
06-22-2009, 02:46 AM
Haze gray and underway.

Oberon
06-23-2009, 04:00 AM
"All hands on deck!" or "All hands to shorten sail!"

James D. Macdonald
06-23-2009, 07:08 AM
I believe the "mainsail" isn't what it's called -- the lowest sails would be the courses, and the course on the main mast would be the main-course (the fore-course and the mizzen-course being the other two).

This probably varied with time and place.

Somewhere in there I might well rig a sea anchor. This too will tend to point her. Dropping the hook will only work if you're in water shallow enough that you can anchor, and by then you're most likely already in very deep trouble, in shoaling water off a lee shore. (More so if you start to drag.)

Shall we describe how to go about battening a hatch?

(If this is just an off-hand thing, for color, in a story about something else, "Shorten sail" as suggested above would be just dandy.)

DWSTXS
06-23-2009, 07:16 AM
Hi Dgrintalis:

I'm new to the site, but finally, something I know at least a little about. Here's a short explanation, followed by the actual answer to your question, that is, some suggested phrases.

The reason a storm is so dangerous for a tall mast sailing ship is that the wind and the waves are coming from the same direction. A motorized ship, when in extreme danger during a storm, will steam directly into the waves, using the narrow pointed bow to split the waves. A sailing ship cannot do that.

So the tall mast sailor tries one of a few other options:

-- sailing straight downwind (called "running") but here the danger is the wave will press against the stern causing something like a "surfing effect" and raising the chance of a "wipeout" (no kidding), that is, a sudden swerving turn and the hull rolling over on its side, perhaps even capsizing , or

-- sailing across the wind (called "reaching"), there is no "surfing" but there is a danger of the waves crashing over the side, this can work before the waves get too big, or

-- sailing as close to the eye of the wind as possible (called "pointing"). If the wind is coming from North (0 degrees), then "reaching" (sailing across the wind) is sailing East (90 degrees) or West (270 degrees). A modern sailboat can "point" all the way up to Northeast (45 degrees) or Northwest (315 degrees). An old tall master cannot do that, and I don't know what they could do, but they could do something better than East (90 degrees), perhaps they could do 70 or 80 degrees. That was a wild ride, charging into the waves at that oblique angle, but it allowed the ship to use the wave-parting design of the bow.

So, as the storm gets worse, here is what I would envision.

1. At the beginning of the storm, the captain would call to "Strike the royals!" He is calling for the striking of the sails at the very top of the mast, the royals. Those sails are smaller, but they provide a lot of leverage; striking them makes the ship more stable. Then, as the storm became worse, he would work his way "down" the mast, striking more sails to reduce sail power and continue to stabilize the ship (getting rid of the sails high up on the mast). From top to bottom, the sails are Royal, Top Gallant, Gallant, Mainsail. He would strike them in this order as the storm became worse.

2. Once everything is struck but the mainsail, the captain would call "Reef the Mainsail!" This means to roll it half way up and only use half the mainsail.

3. I don't think the captain would ever "Strike the mainsail!" That would mean he would lose forward power and ALL control of the ship's direction through the ship's wheel. (No forward motion equals no steering power from a rudder, except maybe to steer while being blown straight downwind like a piece of floating trash).

4. Once the captain got down to a reefed mainsail, he might call for the helmsman to "abandon course" and instead order him to "point." What he is saying is: "To hell with trying to get where we're going, let's try to sail into the wind and save the ship."

5. If that didn't work, he might actually strike the reefed mainsail and use the pressure of the wind against the ship itself (called the "freeboard") to cause some forward momentum, and use the rudder to steer. This means, almost certainly a "reach" or the more dangerous "run." He would probably choose between those two depending which direction gets him to land.

6. If all that seems hopeless, he might actually call "Drop anchor!" and let out all the cable ("Lay out all the chains!"). The anchor cable connects at the bow for this reason. The wind and waves will push the ship back and make it face bow-into-the-wind-and-waves, and there is a chance he can ride out the storm. This is a "last ditch" effort.

7. Other better sailors than me will see many better techniques, but they will (I hope) at least recognize these as sensible reactions to increasing storms.

Hope this helps.

Rupert

I think I might print this out to refer to the next time I'm reading a sea-story. . .it would certainly make it more meaningful, and I might just understand what the hell is going on.
Ever since I first read Jack London's the Sea Wolf I've liked sea-stories, but could never figure out what's happening boat/ship-wise.

And I re-read The Sea Wolf at least once a year. awesome story!

dgrintalis
06-23-2009, 08:59 AM
Thank you all so much! I used several of the suggestions in the passage. Okay, take into consideration I write horror, but the scene consisted of my MC trapped in a room with the floor rolling and swaying like the deck of a ship caught in a storm. He sees and hears the ship crew around him, smells the ocean, etc.

This is what happens when you mess with the devil. Especially when his nickname is 'Sailor'. ;)