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Part III
Part IV
Part V
Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery

Boat Exercise


There is, in the Navy, a uniform rig for all boats.

Large boats, such as launches, pinnaces, and barges, are generally rigged with gaff-sails, that is, as fore and aft schooners, or with standing lugs.

The smaller boats, such as cutters, gigs, jolly-boats, &c are rigged with either standing or dipping lugs.

Q. What is the difference between a standing and a dipping lug ?

A. The tack of a dipping lug hooks to the stem, and the tack of a standing lug to the mast, therefore every time a boat tacks or wears, the after yard-arm of a dipping lug has to be clipped round the mast, from aft forward.

Q. What do you mean by dipping a lug ?

A. The meaning of dipping a lug is simply this. The sail is partially lowered down, so as to allow the after part of the sail to be gathered forward, and the after yard-arm to he canted down, to admit of its going before the mast, and aft on the other side, when, if the wind has taken the sail on the other tack, it is re-hoisted.


To properly dip a lug is considered one of the smartest things in boat sailing : the men should be stationed for this purpose, the bowman to bear the fore part of the sail out, the two next to gather the sheet of the sail forward, and pass it round before the mast, the after hands to unhook and rehook the sheets. All the others should sit fast and keep still in the boat, only assisting to hand the foot of the sail along, shifting the sheet, and re-hoisting when ready.

The sail should not be lowered until the fore part had be aback sufficiently long to bring the boat round, so as to have the wind on the other bow, unless the water is smooth, and the boat has enough way on to bring her round.

Q. When would you unhook the sheets ?

A. As soon as the sail lifts.

Q. How low would you lower a lug for dipping ?

A. There ought to be a dipping mark on the halyards, to prevent the necessity of lowering the yard more than is necessary for dipping the after yard-arm round the mast, and also to keep the sail high enough, so as to have sufficient of the sail aback before the mast to carry the boat round and insure as little slack sail as possible on top of the men sitting on the foremost thwarts ; if in a cutter, one of the men stationed on the after-thwart should keep the mizen-sheet in hand, so as to ease off, in case the boat comes-to in re-hoisting the sail.

Q. Where would you belay the halyards of a lug-sail ?

A. Always to windward.

Q. How do you dip a lug in wearing?

A. Just before the wind is right aft lower your sail to the dipping mark, gather it forward, dip the after yard-arm round before the mast. Shift the hauling part of your halyards to windward, and as soon as the wind is on the other quarter re-hoist your sail ; never, if possible, allow a boat to gybe in a fresh breeze, as it will be very difficult to lower the sail down, the halyards will be between the mast and the sail, and the sail will be binding hard against the mast.

Q. What precautions would you take before making sail ?

A. Before stepping the mast, see the halyards are rove, and that nothing will be required aloft, and when once the mast is stepped, see the ends of the halyards are within reach, so there will be no necessity for any of the hands to stand on the thwarts ; never allow a man to go up the mast, many fatal accidents have occurred in this way ; if there is anything wrong at the mast-head, such as the halyards becoming unrove, unstep the mast and rectify it. Ship the rowlock plates, see the halyards hooked clear, also the sheet clear for hooking ; never haul the sheet taut aft if on a wind before the halyards are well up.

Q. If on a wind, and the halyards require a pull, what precaution would you take ?

A. Always ease the sheet off before getting it.

Q. How would you make sail in a boat rigged with gaff sails ?

A. Always set the jib or stay-foresail before setting the gaff-foresail, taking care to steady the runners hand taut first. The jib and stay-foresail act as a forestay, and if the gaff-foresail is set before either of the head sails, the foremost head is dragged aft, and causes the after-leech of the gaff-foresail to hang slack ; but should circumstances oblige you to set the gaff foresail first, ease off the gaff-foresail sheet, and slack the runners, so as to allow the mast to go forward in its proper position when you set the head sails.

Q. How is a downhaul fitted to a lug sail?

A. The halyards are generally cut sufficiently long to admit the end of the hauling part to be fitted with an eye, and hooked to the traveller before hoisting the sail.

Q. How do you take a lug sail in ?

A. Check the sheet, haul down on the downhaul, and the luff of the sail at the same time, so as to spill the sail ; never gather down on the after-leech, as it causes the fore part of the sail to fill, and binds the traveller to the mast, so as to prevent its running down freely.

Q. What is to be observed in taking a reef in a boat-sail?

A. Never roll the foot of a sail, as it holds more water, and tends to force the boat to leeward.

Q. What ought the crew to do in the event of a boat being capsized or swamped ?

A. As a rule, everyone should remain by her, as she will assist those that cannot swim to keep afloat, and those that can swim will, with the help of the boat, be able also to render valuable assistance, and insure confidence to the former.

Q. When ought you to reef in a boat ?

A. Directly she begins to wet, or show any inclination of being crank ; never allow the boat's crew to stand up ; when reefing, the men should be properly stationed before you begin, so each man might know what he has to do without confusion ; the hands not engaged in reefing should be made to sit perfectly still ; keep the boat under command, but the sails should be lifting, the halyards checked, and the sail lowered sufficiently for the men to handle without rising in the boat.

Q. What precaution would yon take in belaying a sheet ?

A. A sheet should never be belayed, but always kept in hand ; as the safety of the boat's crew might depend upon this, a careful, trustworthy hand should always be selected for this duty.

Q. When laying on your oars under sail, what precaution would you take ?

A. Heave them out of their rowlocks, and let them rest abaft on the gunwale.

Q. Where would you bend the halyards of a standing and dipping lug?

A. The proper distance to sling a dipping lug is one-third from the foremost yard-arm, and a standing lug one-quarter, so as to insure your sail to set well.

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