Nothing can deface the beauty of a ship.

- Joseph Conrad


Boat Design

If there is one thing no two sailors will ever agree upon, it is the best designed, most exquisitely appointed ship.


Boat Construction

Auspicious times to begin construction of a ship or boat according to superstition

On a fair day with a fair wind and a coming tide.

On a Wednesday.

When the moon is full or close to reaching that state.

When gulls are overhead or porpoises are at play near shore

Inauspicious times to begin construction of a ship or boat according to superstition

On the thirteenth day of the month..

On a Thursday, or worse yet, on a Friday.

On an unfair day with an unfair wind, a going tide, and heavy surf.

When birds are absent.

When women are present.

To ensure good luck when beginning construction of a new vessel

Have a priest or minister bless the keel.

Affix a gold coin to the keel, or embed one in it.

Sprinkle holy water on the timbers.

Align the building stocks in a north-south direction.

Keep pigs and chickens away from the yard.


Mechanically powered boats require less ballast than strictly sailing vessels because the weight of the engine, transmission, exhaust system, shaft, fuel, etc., is sufficient ballast. Only a small amount is needed for trimming.

There is an advantage to inside lead ballast because it does not corrode, deteriorate, or lose its market value as scrap. Iron is inadvisable because it rusts and is dirty. Stone is cheap and clean, but it is difficult to secure. Sand can be stowed in bags, but a broken bag is messy and loses its concentration of weight. Heavy ballast must rest on a frame and should never be concentrated on the planking.

The advantages to placing some outside ballast inside the boat is that it can be shifted to trim the hull and removed to lighten the boat for hauling or for refloating after grounding.

Choosing a Flag of Proper Size

The U.S. ensign or yacht ensign at the stern staff should be approximately one inch on the fly per each overall foot of the boat. The hoist should be approximately two-thirds of the fly.

The union jack should be the same size as the canton of the proper U.S. ensign for the boat.

Club burgees and private signals should be approximately 1/2 inch on the fly for each foot of the highest mast, measured from the waterline to the mast head.

Parts of a flag

Field--the background

Hoist--the part of the flag nearest the halyard; also the word for width

Fly--the part opposite the hoist; also the word for length

Length--the horizontal dimension of a flag, measured from the hoist to the fly

Width--the vertical measurement along a flag's hoist

First quarter--the upper half of the hoist

Second quarter--the upper half of the fly

Third quarter--the lower half of the hoist

Fourth quarter--the lower half of the fly

Canton--the first quarter; on the yacht ensign, the part with the anchor; on the U.S. ensign, the part with the stars

Proportions of the U.S. Flag

Hoist (width) of flag - 1

Fly (length) of flag - 1.9

Hoist (width) of union - 7/13

Fly (length) of union - 0.76

Width of each stripe - 1/13

Diameter of star - 0.0616

Dressing a Ship

Ships and boats are sometimes "dressed" for regattas and on national holidays and other special occasions. A proper dressed yacht displays:

--The yacht ensign at the stern staff

--The union jack at the bow, or jack staff

--The flags and pennants of the International Code on a line running from the stem or end of the bowsprit to the masthead and aft to the stern or taffrail.

Sailboat Race Classes

One-design: The design of the boat is strictly controlled by class rules.

Restricted: Rules put limits on length, weight, sail area, etc. Outside the restrictions, anything goes.

Formula: The design is limited by a formula, the data for which is derived from measurement of the boat.

Handicap: Differences in design are offset by time allowances.

Builder's: All boats, to the same design, are built by the same builder.

Parts of a Square Sail

Cloth--a whole strip of canvas

Head--the top of a sail

Leech--the side of a sail

Luff--the weather leech, or the side first touched by the wind

Foot--the bottom or lower edge

Clew--the two lower corners

Tack--the rope attached to the foremost lowest corner of a course

Sheets--the ropes that spread the lower corners (except on a course), and the after lower corners of a course

Bunt--the middle cloths

Boltrope--the rope sewed around the edges of a sail

Cringle--a strand of rope worked round and into the boltrope for the reef earrings, bowline bridles, and reef tackle pendants

Robands--pieces of sennit plaited round the head rope of the sail, for securing it to the jackstay on the yard

Head earrings--ropes spliced into the head cringles to secure them to the yardarms

Reef earrings--ropes used in combination with points or beckets to secure the sail to the yard when reefs are taken in

Tabling--the double part of a sail, close to the boltrope

Eyelet holes--holes formed in the tabling and reef bands for the robands, reef lines, buntline toggles, and cringles

Bowline bridles--used to flatten the surface of a sail when it is set

Buntlines--ropes attached to the leeches of topsails and courses; used in reefing and bending

Clewlines--ropes attached to the clews of all square sails; used when taking them in

Buntline cloth--double part of a sail to take the chafe of the buntline

Reef tackle patch--double part to take the strain of the reef tackle

Reef bands--double part across a sail for working the eyelet holes for the reef lines or points in each reef

Belly band--double part across a topsail below the fourth reef for strength

Top lining--double part on the after side of a topsail to take the chafe of the top

Goring cloth--any cloth cut obliquely

Roach--the curve in the foot of a sail

Slab--any slack part of a sail hanging down


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