Saturday, April 9, 2011
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Davit
A fish davit is a piece of timber that has a sheave or roller block on the end. This is used like a crane and, with a partner, hoists the flukes of a large anchor up and out of the water so that the anchor does not slam into – and potentially hole – the hull of the ship. The process is referred to as fishing the anchor. The lower end of such a davit rests above the cathead at the fore of the ship where the anchor is secured when not in use. The upper part of the pulley system is secured to a tackle from the foremast head.
Smaller davits, known as boat davits, can be fitted into larger ship’s boats such as a penace to assist in weighing the boat’s smaller anchor.
Davit guys are ropes used to secure a davit for duty. Davit rope is the lashing used to store the davit securely when not in use. A davit topping lift is a rope which is attached to the outer end of a davit. Similar to the system of the fish davit, this rope is passed through a block secured aloft to a vessel’s mast. This davit is specifically used for bringing an anchor inboard for repair or cleaning.
Davies and davits are, of course, no kin to Davy Jones, the origin of whose name remains one of the mysteries of the sea. The Sailor’s Word Book addresses him no further than to say he is “… the spirit of the sea; a nikker; a sea-devil”.
Header: Looking out of Battle Harbor by William Bradford ~ davits can be seen projecting from the stern of the sloop in the foreground