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Re: Backing (Up) Ships

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  • 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 1 of 3 , Feb 1, 2001
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      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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