Tuesday, 14 October 2014


The general concensus seems to be that the function of the sail/sails is to steady the ship in a rough sea and perhaps to keep her heading into wind.  However, there is some discussion as to the configuration. I had a go at interpreting the 1880 specification and produced a diagram (Photo). 

However Patroclus (I am sure that is not his real name), a much better informed chap than I on nautical matters, has offered the following comments:

1. The lug yard belongs to the mainmast, not the mizzen (the head of the main lug sail is bent to it) - and the reference to “main lug” is a real problem. If the mainmast carried the light and paraphernalia as shown in the painting of the Daunt’s Rock lightvessel with the RNLI lifeboat alongside, how did they rig a lugsail on it? Perhaps we should be looking at a different type of three-masted lightvessel?
2. The ensign staff would be mounted at the stern in the normal place.
3. The mizzen boom would probably be hooped to the mizzen mast say 8 feet above the deck.

There is little doubt that the mainmast was too cluttered to have sails anywhere near it. Using a photograph of Cormorant as she is now (it’s a bit fragmented as I had to take several shots along the length), and knowing exactly where the main mast and the mizzen emerged from the superstructure, I have ‘resurrected’ these two masts. The hawsers (shrouds?) which supported the main mast had substantial anchoring points on both sides of the ship and these are still there, so I was able to approximate the run of these hawsers (Photo). I have left out any fore and aft supports and all those for the mizzen, but I have shown what I believe to be the boomkin with its sheave  (for hoisting things on board?) and what I thought was the lugyard. There is no mention of a hoop on the mizzen.

Translating this to the grotty photo I have of Cormorant’s sister ship, Puffin, does I think give a good impression of what these vessels looked like (Photo), but I acknowledge that Patroclus is correct to worry about the reference to ‘main lug’.

 I can add to that disquiet as the 1880 spec also refers to one fore and two main stay sails (one spare I assume) and two jib-headed mizzens (again I assume one spare). Where were these placed?

One more clue (or red herring?) is in the structure of the mizzen base unit (Photo).  There is a substantial ‘boom-hinge’ mounted fore and aft on that unit. Is one for the boomkin and one for the lugyard?  Please ignore the hanging nameplate. I made it to reflect my first impressions of the ship and Simon displays it.  I wonder what those three rings were for.

Finally, although Patroclus thinks the ensign would be mounted at the stern, if that mizzen sail boom/lugyard is in the correct place, at 24ft it would extend about 6ft over the stern and preclude any ensign staff there.  Perhaps the picture of LV72 at Juno beach in WWII shows where an ensign could be (Photo).  Her mizzen is further back, but the ensign is definitely up top there. It is not possible to see whether it is attached to the mizzen or to a staff.

PS:  Petroclus/Patroclus was a friend of Achilles, of uncertain parentage, killed a friend over a dice game and died when he disobeyed a direct order from Achilles.