Saturday, 11 October 2014


The 1880 specification document is proving to be a rich source of information and revelation! I was certainly not aware that these old lightships had sails. I knew that they did not have engines for propulsion and had to be towed everywhere, but sails?
   Well now all you mariners, here is your challenge – or as they used to say in that TV program, “Your mission, should you accept it”,  to produce a sketch of the sail arrangement from the description given in the document”.  The document describes all three masts, but details of sails etc refer only to the mizzen or, as they spell it, mizen.
The dimensions of the mast are as follows:
Heel to deck …….10ft
Deck to hounds….31ft
Hounds to truck….13ft
Extreme length ….54ft
The mizen mast to be fitted with an iron hoop on masthead, with outrigger to take jackstay of mizen;  one 12ft boomkin for mizen, fitted with one four-eyed hoop on outer end, also fitted with an iron sheave;  one 17ft ensign-staff.  One 24ft lug yard, fitted with all necessary iron work.
Sails of best quality No2 coker-canvas:-  1 main lug;  1 fore and 2 main stay-sails; 2 jib-head mizens.

I have discovered that an outrigger is a boom or spar;  a jack-stay is something the sail is fastened to;  a boomkin is a short spar (why not a boomette?); a sheave is a wheel or roller; and a lug yard is a spar hung obliquely on a mast. But I am sure you know all that!

The final question is what’s it all for?  I cannot imagine this small amount of sail would propel a 150 ton ship anywhere. Unfortunately I have only one photo of such a ship (Puffin) and it is of very poor quality and probably no use to you at all.