The discovery of the 1908 photograph, showing Cormorant with a fixed lantern and only one other mast, has rather skewed the discussions about sails. When she was ‘upgraded’ from the 1880 specification, who knows what other alterations took place? Anyway I have been playing with computer images of Cormorant 1908 and Cormorant 1957 to make sure we are looking at the same ship. Allowing for the fact that Cormorant 1908 is heeling slightly to port and has had her lantern modernised, and Cormorant 1957 has a boat landing platform tacked on the stern, the similarities are very evident when I superimpose one on the other. Luckily the two photos were taken at roughly the same angle.
I also compared the main and mizzen mast combination over the years – although by 1997 the main mast had been chopped off at deck level. It looks highly likely that the original main mast (or most of it) was used throughout, with the access holes plated over as we found very early on in this story when we examined the base of the main mast stump.
The mizzen was probably replaced or lengthened when the ‘hoistable’ lantern on the main was replaced by a fixed lantern. In reply to a question asked, I believe that ‘ball’ on the 1908 mizzen is to inform other ships that this vessel is anchored/not under way.
One interesting technique from the 1880 specification was rust prevention for the main steel mast. Everything had to be “… thoroughly cleansed from rust, and in this state it is to be thoroughly and uniformly heated, and while hot, to be coated with boiled linseed oil, and after it has cooled and the coat hardened, it is to be painted two good coats in pure red lead paint.” Quite a task with a 70ft mast!