Monday, June 18, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Rope and Cable

The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor by Darcy Lever is along the same lines as The Seaman's Friend by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.  Published in 1819, Lever's seminal work on the running of a ship may have influenced Dana's book, which came out in 1879.

In Sheet Anchor, Lever tells us how to lay down rope and cable the old fashioned way.  This is his description of how ship's rope was made from time in memorial: by hand and with a lot of human effort:

Ropes are a combination of several Threads of Hemp, twisted together by means of a Wheel in the Rope-Walk.  These Threads are called Rope-Yarns and the Size of the Rope in Diameter, will be according to the Number of Yarns contained in it.

A Proportion of Yarns (covered with Tar) are first twisted together.  This is called a Strand: three, or more of which being twisted together, form the Rope; and according to the number of these Strands, it is said to be either Hawser-laid, Shroud-laid, or Cable-laid.

A Hawser-laid rope is composed of three single Strands, each containing an equal quantity of Yarns, and is laid right-handed, or was is termed with the Sun.

A Shroud-laid rope consists of four Strands of an equal Number of Yarns, and is also laid with the Sun.

A Cable-laid rope is divided into nine Strands of an equal Number of Yarns; these nine Strands being again laid into three, by twisting three of the small Stands into one.  I is laid left-handed or against the sun.

Header: Venetian Sailboats by Carl Schmidt via American Gallery


Timmy! said...

So a cable is three ropes twisted together. Am I not corect in saying that, Pauline?

Pauline said...

Would you call me an aged man-of-war, Doctor?

Oh, sorry; that's right to the best of my knowledge.