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Re: [Revlist] Re: Backing (Up) Ships

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  • Richard White
    Actually Tom is right! Before there were tugboats, many an old square rigger used both its stay sails and squared ones to use the wind to back ships. This was
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 1, 2001
      Actually Tom is right! Before there were tugboats, many an old square rigger
      used both its stay sails and squared ones to use the wind to back ships.
      This was done to get away from wharf or pier sides along with warping off
      using the mooring lines. The run of the ship or the length of the keel will
      always keep a ship on a true course, it's only when you want to turn you
      will need a rudder. And even when you are moving backwards, the rudder will
      still turn the stern of the ship.

      Richard White
      7th Virginia, Captain Marshall's Co.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "John Seitz" <jjseitz@...>
      To: "Rev List" <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2001 12:02 PM
      Subject: [Revlist] Re: Backing (Up) Ships


      > Dear List,
      >
      > Regarding "backing up" sailing ships, Tom Burke writes <<< ... it isn't
      > difficult, especially in a square rigger like the Constitution. ... If
      > the wind is in front of the boat, and the sails are squarely set, the wind
      > will push the boat backwards. ... >
      >
      > While this is quite correct, Mr. Burke fails to mention the minor point of
      > steering the, er, boat. Since the rudder is now in front of, rather than
      > behind, the focus of propulsion, this can prove difficult if not
      impossible
      > even in relatively calm seas.
      >
      > This is true, too, of modern craft, despite his comment <<< it's easier to
      > turn the motor on >>>, as the rudder is generally is behind the propellor.
      > (We have lots of fun in the Summer watching people here who confuse their
      > (rented) 70-foot canal boat with their car...)
      >
      > I have the Honour and Pleasure to Be, etc. -- John Seitz
      >
      >
      > Visit the RevList Homepage, which includes a list of sutlers, RevList
      member photos, FAQ, etc., at
      >
      > http://www.liming.org/revlist/
      >
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      with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
      >
    • Bart Reynolds
      John, All very good points concerning backing a square rigged ship. One thing that I should have added in my post yesterday concerning the specifics of that
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 1, 2001
        John,

        All very good points concerning backing a square rigged ship. One thing
        that I should have added in my post yesterday concerning the specifics
        of that engagement was the wind direction. During the period when the
        CONSTITUTION threw her main and mizzen topsails "Flat aback" the wind
        was directly off the stern running East Northeast. Under those wind
        conditions and with only the main and mizzen topsails aback and the top
        gallants still set there is no way back for the ship to actually back up
        but only to slow down - unless the water current exceeded the forward
        speed of the vessel. There is nothing to indicate that to be the case.

        Had the ship had the wind from ahead, on her bows or even abeam then a
        square rigged shipped could brace her yards in a manner to put all her
        square sails (or even most) aback and actually move backwards making
        sternway. However, none of those wind conditions were the ones that
        existed during that time during the engagement.

        The backing of sails was normally used in coming to anchor, speaking
        another vessel, putting over or receiving a boat, or if coming up a
        narrow river or estuary. It was very unusual to find it being utilized
        in a naval engagement.

        Best Regards

        Bart Reynolds
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