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

Boat Exercise


Q. If sailing in a stiff breeze, what precaution would you take in placing your crew ?

A. All hands should sit on the bottom boards, as little of them as possible ought to appear above the gunwale ; keep the men out of the bows, and in a heavy sea always endeavour to keep a boat's head on to it. Never allow the crew to sit to windward, and should they be sitting to windward in a breeze, and you are about to pass a ship, make them resume their proper places on the thwarts before you are under her lee ; there is always an eddy wind under the stern of a ship lying head to wind, and invariably a great indraught of water ; frequently, boats passing close under the stern of large ships are suddenly taken aback, and were the crew in such a case sitting on the weather gunwale, or all hands over the weather side, it might be the means of capsizing the boat, and causing some fatal accident.

In towing alongside a ship, get your tow-line from as far forward as possible from the ship you are towing alongside ;

if towing astern, the shorter your tow-line is the better. Never make a tow-line fast. but toggle it with a stretcher



through the aftermost of the foremost sling bolts, so as to be able to slip it in case of any emergency ; use the lazy painter as a frapping to frap it into the stem.

If towing astern of a ship, with many other boats, never allow them to make their painters fast to the stern of your boat, as it will strain her, and perhaps start the stern-post or stem ; when about to be cast off, always have your oars in hand ready for use. The largest and heaviest boats should tow nearest the ship.

Q. If blown off the land in a boat, what world you do to keep her head on to the sea, and prevent her drifting to leeward

A. Securely lash all her spars, oars, &c together. Make a span of any rope you have in the boat equal to the strain that will be brought on it ; to the span, when properly bent to the opposite ends of the largest spar, bend the end of a cable, if you have one in the boat ; if not, the end of the painter, or any long piece of rope, before launching the spars overboard ; the longer scope you can give, the easier the boat will ride ; this has been known to answer well.

Q. If using oars in a light wind, what precaution would you take when the breeze freshens ?

A. In using oars under sail, in light winds, always boat them directly the breeze freshens, or at least, the lee oars, to prevent the possibility of catching a crab, that is, the oars becoming entangled in the water, the blades going in the opposite direction to which you wish, the loom flying forward against the hands using the oars, and in five cases out of six capsizing them backwards off the thwarts in the bottom of the boat, causing confusion among the other hands, and is often the means of three or four others on the lee side catching crabs, which ends either in splitting and carrying away the lee gunwale, or in capsizing the boat.

Q. If sailing on a wind, and caught in a squall with a lug-sail, what would you-do?

A. Let go the fore sheet at once, and, put the helm down ; and as the wind often shifts in a squall, it is a safe precaution to lower the foresail down until you see the extent of the squall, and whether the wind is likely to remain steady ; if taken aback, the sail would so bind against the mast that there would be great difficulty in getting it down, it would most likely cause the boat to gather stern way, and if blowing fresh, would create such confusion among the crew, which might perhaps induce them to stand up in the boat, and in all probability capsize her. Many accidents have occurred this way, causing the loss of many valuable lives ; also through not shortening sail in time. This also applies to a boat schooner-rigged.

Q. If sailing with the wind abeam, and caught in a squall, what would you do?

A. Keep the sheet flowing, and the halyards clear for running.

Q. When about to sail, what ought you strictly to observe ?

A. Great care should always be taken in seeing a boat's sails well and properly set, so as to render her manageable ; also sightly to other ships.

A great deal is done in handling a boat, in having the sails properly trimmed, and the crew or any weight on the boat judiciously placed ; all weight, as much as possible, should be kept out of the bows and stern, and placed amidships ; you can easily tell by the helm if a boat is in trim or not.

When in trim, she will carry her helm nearly amidships; by being obliged to give much weather or lee helm, the rudder is dragged across her stern, and the boat's way is retarded.

Weather helm is often produced by allowing the bowman to sit right forward, and press the boat by the head, also by carrying a press of sail ; attention to the jib or mizen sheets, in a boat where the sails are well set, will invariably relieve the helm.

Q. If working to windward among shipping, or into an harbour, and in doubt as to whether you will weather any particular object, what ought you to do ?

A. It is always safer to tack, as invariably there will be some tide running, and if a lee tide, and you shake the boat up, she loses her way, becomes unmanageable, the consequence is, you foul the danger you have tried to avoid, and will cause, in all probability, some damage to your boat ; should the masthead foul the bowsprit or spanker-boom of the ship you are trying to weather, she is nearly certain to capsize, and most likely drown some of your crew.

Q. Being unable to fetch a ship, what assistance can she render you ?

A. If it is blowing hard, or in a strong tide way, keep as much as possible in her wake, so as to pick up a buoy or small boat when veered astern from the ship for your assistance, a deep-sea lead-line or small hawser is generally used for this purpose ; as soon as you have picked it up and secured it to your boat, she is walked up alongside by all hands on board the ship clapping on the line veered astern.

Q. How would you tow a spar ?

A. The smallest end first.

Q. What preparation would yon make if in charge of a boat under sail, before going alongside a ship, and what guide have you for properly laying your boat alongside the gangway ?

A. Much depends upon the judgment of the coxswain in going alongside a ship ; the general rule, however, is to get the main-yard end on, but this must greatly depend upon whether the ship is in a tide way or not, or whether the boat is light or heavily laden. In coming alongside, unship the bowsprit, see the boat has been properly baled out, fenders out, slings, if possible, should be hooked, and everything ready for the boat to be hoisted up if you know she is not to remain down, and always remember that a heavily laden boat carries her way much longer than a light boat.

Q. How would you haul a boat up on a beach, or launch one ?

A. All boats ought to be fitted with a hole in the fore foot, about 1 in. in diameter, for the purpose of placing an iron bolt or a strop to hook a tackle to, or bend a rope's-end, for the purpose of hauling her up.

Before leaving the ship to haul a boat up on a beach to scrub her bottom, or for any other purpose, see a boat's anchor and a luff-tackle in the boat, place her thwarts or stretchers under her keel, bury her anchor in the beach well up, bend a rope's-end to the ring of it, and make a long strop, so as to allow sufficient drift to hook the tackle to a strop round the iron bolt in the hole in the fore foot of the boat, or to a strop rove through it ; hook the single block of the luff to the strop secured to the ring of the anchor, and the double block to the strop in the fore foot of the boat, man the tackle, leaving sufficient number of hands each side of the boat to keep her in an upright position, and walk her up.

To prevent the anchor coming home or rising, place a stretcher or an oar under the upper arm or flue, and station couple of hands to keep it down. This also applies to launching a boat which bas been left high and dry by the tide.

Never attempt to haul a boat up, or launch one, by clapping a number of hands on her painter, as it only tends to bury her bow in the sand or mud, and you stand a chance of starting her stem.

If not fitted with a hole in the fore foot, make a rope round her stern, well down to the keel, and hitch it round the bow, and hang it by a rope's-end over the boat to keep it from falling under the keel, to which hook your tackle or bend a rope's-end to it, and clap all hands on it, having a sufficient number of hands each side of the boat to keep her in an upright position.

Q. What are the salutes to be paid to Officers of different ranks in passing them in boats ?

A. If under canvas, never cross the bow of a superior officer, and if near, always pass to leeward of him. The coxswain should always stand up and pull his hat off. Passing an Admiral, all the boat's crew should stand up and keep their hats off while passing.

In rowing and passing an Admiral, toss the oars, and all hands stand up with their hats off while passing.

In passing a Captain or a Commander, toss the oars, the coxswain standing up with his hat off.

In passing any other Commissioned Officer, lay on your oars, the coxswain standing up with his hat off.

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