Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery



Is made from a tall fibrous plant, largely cultivated in Russia and Italy ; the latter producing the finest and best hemp.

Yarns or Threads

Are made from hemp laid up right-handed, each yarn or thread is supposed to bear the weight of one hundred pounds.


Consist of a number of yarns laid up together, the number depending on the size rope the strands form ; those intended for a right-handed rope are laid up left-handed, and for a left-handed rope, they are laid up right-handed.


Consists of lengths of condemned rigging, cut into five-fathom lengths, or pads of outside yarns.


Is condemned running rigging, supplied for lashings or other purposes, where good rope is not required, and for making wads, &c.


Is old rope unlaid, and the yarns picked into hemp for caulking the seams in a ship's deck or side, and for many other purposes, cleaning brass-work, &c.


Is a number of yarns, twisted up right-handed, varying in number, from three to fifteen yarns.


All rope is distinguished according to how it is manufactured.

Ropes made of hemp are as follows:

Hawser-laid rope.

Cablet or cable-laid rope.

Bolt rope.

Rumbowline, twice laid, or re-manufactured rope.

Coir rope.

Hide rope.

Wire rope.

The size of a rope is denoted by its circumference and length of coil, according to the use it is intended for.

There are several descriptions of hawser-laid rope.

Hawser-laid rope for standing rigging is termed shroud-hawser rope. It is a four-stranded and right-handed, made in lengths of 106 fathoms.

The largest size made is 14 ins., used for forestays of first-class ships.

The smallest size made is 2 ins., used for royal backstays of small ships.

N.B.-All four-stranded ropes, have a centre strand, in addition, called the heart, so as to insure the four strands, when laid up, laying smoothly without a hollow.

Gun Gear

Is hawser-laid three-stranded left-handed rope, generally termed reverse-laid rope. The yarns and strands being laid up right-handed, and the rope left-handed, renders it soft and more easy to handle ; for all it is not so durable, as it is more apt to admit the wet and cause it to rot.

The large size, which is used for gun-breechings, is most difficult to splice ; as the strands are unlaid, each strand has to be marled down separately to keep it together; the yarns and strands being laid up the same way, they are apt to open out as soon as a strand is unlaid.

It is made from the best Italian yarns.

Hawser-laid right-handed three-stranded rumbowline twice-laid or re-manufactured rope, is hawser-laid, three stranded right-handed.

It is made from outside yarns. It is a coarse, soft, pliable rope, and very useful for many purposes, such as stage lashings, &c. ; it also makes good nippers.

There are no regular sizes for making this description of rope.

Coir Rope

Is three-stranded right-handed rope, made from the fibres of the cocoa-nut tree.

It is one-third lighter than hemp rope, but not nearly so durable, as it soon rots after being wet, if not well dried before it is stowed away ; as it floats so light, it is very useful as warps, and quite equal in strength to hemp rope.

Hide Rope

Is nine-stranded left-handed, made in a similar way to cablelaid or tablet rope. It is used for wheel-ropes, as it is much stronger than hemp ; when wet it swells and shrinks ; therefore, should, if possible, be kept dry, and, in all cases well greased, which duty is always assigned to the quartermasters.

Three-stranded rope is used for all common purposes, such as reeving running rigging, purchases, &c. It is made from half an inch to 10 ins. in circumference, in coils of 113 fathoms.

Bolt Rope

Is a three-stranded right-handed rope, made from the best Italian hemp, from three-quarters of an inch in circumference, to 7 ins., in coils of 122 fathoms in length.

Cable-Laid or Cablet Rope

Is nine-stranded left-handed rope. It is made by first laying up with the sun, or right-handed, the nine strands into three separate ropes, three strands in each, and then laying the three ropes thus made up into one rope, left-handed, or against the sun ; when completed, it resembles three small ropes laid up together. It is made from 2 ins. to 26 ins. in circumference.

All above 2 in. in coils of 101 fathoms in length; 2 ins. and 2 ins. are made in lengths of 102 fathoms.

Wire Rope

Is right-handed, three, five, and seven stranded. All lower rigging and lower stays in steamships are wire rope.

It has the great advantage over hemp in not stretching so much, or becoming impoverished by being constantly exposed to the heat of the fennel, &c.

The table given* will show the comparative strength it bears to hemp and chain.

Three-stranded, is one-fifth stronger than four-stranded rope.

Lanyards for lower rigging, cat-falls, topsail-ties, halyards, lifts and braces, gun gear, and bolt-ropes, and all ropes of importance, are invariably made from the best Italian hemp.

It should ever be remembered by the young seaman that all right-handed ropes should be coiled down with the sun, and left-handed ropes against the sun ; attempting to do it the opposite way will bring your rope full of kinks, and make a very unsightly coil.

* See tables at end of Book.

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