Rigging is a familiar seafaring term even to landsmen, although they frequently err in the belief that it means anything aboard a sailing ship that isn’t her hull. Rigging is in fact specific to the rope, cable and chain used to support masts and arrange sails. Thus standing rigging is that used for keeping tension on the masts so that they remain upright – standing. Running rigging is that used to direct and adjust the sails so that the ship runs to best advantage.
Riggers are those men whose shipboard occupation involves fitting or taking down both standing and running rigging. Riggers are employed in naval yards not only to fit out and strip ships of rigging but also to see to anchoring and mooring duties as well.
In large shipyards a rigging loft was a necessary space. This was usually a long hall or gallery where rigging could be stretched, spliced and braided for new ships and those that needed refitting.
To rig is to fit all shrouds, stays, braces and so on to their masts, sails and yards. To rig out a boom is to run it out from its yard as when fitting studding sails; to rig in a boom being the obvious opposite action. A ship was said to be rigging out when in the process of outfitting her rigging. Once fully equipped, a ship was said to be rigged.
On large ships, rigging mats might be used when working the rigging to prevent chafing of both man and rope.
A man might be ordered “to rig himself”; to get dressed. A sailor, particularly an officer, in fancy dress is said to be rigged out. The boys might also rig, get themselves up to mischief about the ship but refrain from taking it to the level of unacceptable behavior.
Finally, on an entirely different note, the brightest star in the constellation of Orion is known as Rigel.
Follow your star, Brethren, and happy Saturday.
Header: The ship Rose costumed as HMS Surprise at dock in Mexico via Webshots (click to enlarge and enjoy the detail of the rigging)