There are three different methods of building boats, namely:-

1st. The Carvel-built, which have fore-and-aft planks, the edges meeting but not overlapping.

2d. The Clinker-built, also fore-and-aft planks, with the edges overlapping each other, like shingling.

3d. The Diagonal-built, having, as the name implies, their planking running diagonally, the inside planks running in a contrary direction to the outside ones, and their edges meeting.

Boats are single or double banked, as they have one or two rowers to a thwart.

The seats for the crew of a boat are called the thwarts; the strips running fore-and-aft, on which the thwarts rest, the rising; the space abaft the afterthwart, the stern-sheets, and forward of the foremost thwart, the fore-sheets; the spaces in the wash-streak for the oars, the row-locks.

The frames, knees, hooks, stem and stern posts of boats are generally of oak, and the planking of cedar.

Oars are made of ash. The flat part of an oar which is dipped in the water is called the blade, and that which is inboard is termed the loom, the extremity of which, being small enough to be grasped by the hand, is called the handle.

The oars are said to be double-banked when there are two men rowing at each oar.

Oars should be neatly marked by the carpenter, and the men not allowed to deface the looms.

In the navy, boats are classed as follows:

Steam launches and steam cutters, frequently built of iron or steel.

Sailing launches, barges, cutters, whale-boats, gigs, and dingies, built of wood.

To Find the Weight of Boats, multiply the square of the breadth by the length, and that product for a launch, by 2.5 ; first cutter, by 1.9; quarter boats, by 1.0; second cutter, by 1.4; stern boat, by 1.0. Answer will be in pounds.



Length Of Wabash
and Class
Ft. Ft. Ft. Ft. Ft. Ft.
Launches 34 34 32 32 30 28
Steam-cutters 33 33 33 33
First cutters 30 30 28 28 26 26
Second cutters 28 28 28 26 26 24
Third cutters 28 28 26 26 26 24
Fourth cutters 26 26 26
Whale-boats 29 29 29 27 27 27
Barges 32 32 30
Gigs 30 30 28 28 28
Dingies 20 20 18 18 18 18


Launches Breadth=Length x .282. Depth=breadth x .40.
Steam Cutters. Breadth=Length x .260. Depth=breadth x .46.
Cutters. Breadth=Length x .258. Depth=breadth x .37.
Barges. Breadth=Length x .225. Depth=breadth x .37.
Gigs. Breadth=Length x .185. Depth=breadth x .37.
Whale-boats. Breadth=Length x .210. Depth=breadth x .39.
Dingies. Breadth=Length x .265. Depth=breadth x .37.

Boat Equipments. Before entering upon the detail of a boat’s outfit, the following articles may be mentioned as indispensable at all times to every boat, viz.:

1st. The plug.
2d. A breaker of water.
3d. A rudder which cannot be unshipped without cutting the rudder rope.
4th. The boat-hooks and the oars, or the sails and spars or both.
5th. A bailer.

The plug should be secured to the keelson by a good laniard. The water breaker should have the bung fitted with a spigot, or faucet, and laniard and the bunghole with a leather lip. If a steering oar is used instead of a rudder, it should ship in a patent crutch, narrowing at the top, from which the oar cannot be disengaged without hauling it through, loom first, until the blade is even with the crutch opening.

Rudders are usually supplied with the pintles of equal length. It will save a great deal of trouble if a small piece of the upper pintle is cut off. Otherwise, if there should be occasion to unship the rudder, it will be very difficult to ship it again in muddy water, or with any motion on the boat, since both pintles have to be pointed at once if of the same length.

Plate 82, Fig 397-399. Stepping the mast in a boat, scheme for jumping booms and boat stowed.


In addition to the complete set of oars, there should be two spare oars, triced up under the thwarts. A painted canvas sail cover is usually provided for the sails.Next to the above-mentioned articles may be enumerated the following as important in the ordinary outfit of a boat, namely: a full set of stretchers, a set of boat-hooks, a good arrangement for hooking on. This should consist of short chain slings shackling to a ring-bolt in the keelson forward and aft, and to rings in the stem and stern posts; “hooks” in these spans and rings in the lower block of the tackles to avoid the danger of the tackles hooking under the gunwale or thwarts are valuable, but seldom fitted. A short and a long (stout) painter for towing or mooring are also required.

If the lower blocks are to be close to the stem and stern of the boat, it is essential that the ring, shackle, ball-toggle or other arrangement used, shall permit the lower block to be above the gunwale of the boat and clear of it. This avoids fouling, which is always objectionable and may be dangerous.

Additional when at sea: Gripes, Fig. 399, fitted with slip-hooks; a boat-rope leading from the fore chains and secured to the boat’s bows; life-lines hanging from the boat-davit span, the supply-box provided for by the Ordnance Manual, and, when hoisting in a sea-way, two small spars to act as skids in keeping the boat clear of the chains, &c.

A boat binnacle is to be kept trimmed and at hand ready for any boat requiring it.

At least one boat in every ship should be a good surf or life-boat, and fitted for lowering and hoisting with extraordinary expedition. In this connection, it may be mentioned that the LIFE-BUOYS should be of the most approved pattern, and that the contrivance for letting them go and firing them should be frequently examined and tested.

Boats should have their own recall, and the cornet, and general recall, painted on a piece of tin and tacked in some secure place, not the backboard.

The minutiae of boat outfits for various kinds of service will be found in the Ordnance Manual.

Lowering and Hoisting (underway or in tideways). For lowering, boats’ falls should be kept in separate racks, and always clear. A boat should not be lowered while the ship has stern-way; on the contrary, it is better if the vessel be going ahead. Should the boat get under the bows, there is danger in a sea-way of her being cut in two or stove by the dolphin-striker.

In a quarter or stern-boat the after-tackle should be unhooked first, particularly when going ahead or in a tideway, otherwise the boat may wind and be swamped.

On lowering a stern-boat in a tide-way, the moment the keel touches the water the boat is swept astern, and the


falls so tautened that they cannot be unhooked without much difficulty. If when the boat is hoisted we hook a stout runner, fitted for the purpose, haul taut and belay it, and unhook the regular tackles; when the boat is lowered the runner can be allowed to unreeve instantaneously, and the boat is swept clear of the ship at once, or swings to her painter previously made fast.When about to lower a boat, see the line from forward made fast, put the plug in, ship the rudder (if not permanently shipped), let the men in the boat hold on to the lifelines, and keep the steadying lines fast until the boat is in the water.

For hoisting, the boat should be hauled up, a careful hand steering, or dropped from the line forward and the forward tackle hooked first. It is very important that these tackles should have their lower blocks so made that they will not capsize. When the tackles are hooked the men should keep the blocks up so that they cannot unhook, by holding up the parts of the fall. Steadying lines should be used in a sea-way, leading in through the ports and well attended, with which to bind the boat, as she rises, against the skids; the life-lines should be crossed and the boat-rope from forward tended. Send all but four hands out and hoist away. When the boat is up, pass the bight of the stopper through the slings-the short chain-spans which go from the ring-bolt in the stem and stern-post to keelson-or through the ring-bolts and over the davit-end twice, and hitch before attempting to belay the fall.

For hoisting quarter-boats in a sea-way, there is nothing like jack-stays from the davits to set up to the bends at the water-line. A lizard is fitted to each, which travels up and down. With these, catch a turn around the thwarts, and the boat may be run up, clear of the side, without trouble.

Pass the gripes round the boat clear of turns. Have squaring marks put on the falls, so that she may always hang square from the davits, and in port, level with the rail. If there be no scuttle which opens of itself, take the plug out the moment the boat leaves the water. Make fast the boat-rope from forward to the bows of the boat, stop it up to the chains with a split yarn. See that the fenders are in, fill the water-breaker, and if the weather be hot, put the cover or awning on square and smooth during the day, taking it off at night.

In a stern-boat in a tide-way, or ship going ahead, do not attempt to haul across the stern or hook the stern-tackle until all is ready on deck, and then hold hard by the life-lines, for the boat will suddenly fly forward as she leaves the water. The spanker out-haul, or a whip from the boom-end, will guy the boat off the ship’s rudder.

Much trouble in rounding up or overhauling down boats’


falls is avoided by hooking the blocks to small beckets worked into staples or eye-bolts in the bends.Handling Boats under Oars. The following orders are used by officers or others in charge of boats. A cutter, for example, is supposed to be lying alongside, properly manned, and ready to shove off:

Up Oars!

The crew, with the exception of the bowmen, seize their proper oars, and, watching the stroke oarsman, raise them briskly to the vertical, simultaneously, holding them thus directly to their centre fronts, blades fore-and-aft, those on starboard side with right hand, those on port side with left hand, down and grasping handles; the oars to be held by the hands alone, not resting on the bottom of the boat; the men face square aft, and pay strict attention to the coxswain.

Bowmen stand up, facing forwards, and attend the painter or heaving-line, or handle boat-hooks, as case may require. (They should not raise their oars until the order “Let fall” has been executed.)

In a sea-way, or strong tide-way, the after-oarsmen do not raise their oars at this command, but assist with boathooks in shoving off, and raise their oars together and before the order “Let fall.”

At command:

Shove off!

Bowmen cast off painter or heaving line, handle boathooks, and shove the bow clear by a vigorous shove, the coxswain seeing that the ensign-staff and quarter go clear of gangway.

When the boat is sufficiently clear of the ship or wharf, the order is given:

Let fall!

The oars are to be eased down into the rowlocks simultaneously, and leveled. The blades should not be allowed to splash in the water. The fenders are then taken in, and the starboard stroke-oarsman gives the stroke. As the style of the stroke depends upon the after-oarsmen, they should be the best men in the boat.

In double-banked boats each man is responsible for the proper handling of his own fender. In single-banked boats No. 2 takes in and throws out the fender of No. 1, No. 3 that of No. 2, &c.

(The boat can now be pointed in the desired direction by directing the proper oars to be backed or given way upon.)

The bowmen, having shoved the boat clear, turn aft, take their seats, and lay in their boat-hooks together, and, having hauled in and coiled down the painter, if adrift, seize their oars, and, looking at each other, throw the blades over the bows, in line with the keel, simultaneously;


when the looms and handles are grasped, the oars are raised vertically together, and dropped simultaneously into the rowlocks. When the boat is properly pointed, the coxswain commands:Give way together!

The starboard after-oar gives the stroke, the others follow him. Each oar should be lifted as high as the gunwale, and feathered by dropping the wrist until the blade is flat. When the blade is thrown forward as far as the rowlock will admit, it is then dropped into the water, easily and without splashing. (Rowing hand over hand, or from the shoulder alone, should never be permitted.)

On approaching the desired place of landing, the boat being properly pointed, at the moment the oars are leaving the water the coxswain commands:

In bows!

The bowmen, closely regarding each other’s motions, take one stroke, and tossing their oars, simultaneously, raise them vertically, lightly touching the blades together, letting them fall into the boat together, in line with the keel, without unnecessary noise, and pass the handles underneath the oars still in motion, taking care that their oars are “boated.” They then seize their boat-hooks, face forward, and, standing up, hold their boat-hooks vertically.

When with sufficient headway to reach the desired place of landing, the command is given:

Way enough!

As before, the command is given while the oars are in the water. The crew, regarding the motions of the stroke-oarsman, give one stroke* and toss their oars simultaneously, raise them to a vertical position, and lay them easily and without noise into the boat, in line with the keel. The oars to be so placed in the boat that they can be readily resumed by the crew, the stroke oars to be placed nearest the gunwale, and the others in succession.

The oars being boated, the stroke oarsmen handle their boat-hooks, keeping their seats, and assist the bowmen in bringing the boat to the landing.

After boating the oars, the fenders are thrown out.

In saluting passing boats, or in stopping to hail, or to check headway, it may become necessary to lay on the oars; to do this, command-

Stand by to lay on your oars!

At this the men pay strict attention for the command-


which is given while the oars are in the water, the stroke is finished and the blades of the oars are feathered and raised simultaneously as high as the gunwale, where they are firmly held in lines parallel to each other-on no account

* Finish the uncompleted stroke and give one full stroke additional.


are the oars to be permitted to touch the water or to be thrown out of line.At the order-

Give Way!

the pulling is resumed, each man regarding the stroke-oars, and taking the stroke from them.

To toss oars, the command is given

Stand by to Toss!

At the command


which is given while the oars are in the water, the stroke is completed, and the oars then thrown up to a vertical position simultaneously, blades fore and aft, each oar is held square to the front of the man holding it-on line with the centre of the body.

In going alongside of a strange or foreign vessel to deliver a message or order, requiring but a few moments to give or execute, and particularly when it is desired to keep the crew at their thwarts, it is recommended to give the order Toss, rather than Way enough! The crew to keep their oars up while the duty is performed by the midshipman in charge. The bowmen being the only men in this case, who “boat their oars.”

To trail, give the command-

Stand by to Trail!


At the second order the oar is to be thrown out of the rowlock, and allowed to trail alongside, either by the trail line or by holding it by the handle.

To stop the boat’s headway, order:


Followed by

Hold Water!

And if necessary-

Stern all!

At the first order, lay on the oars as directed; at the second, drop the blades in the water to check the headway; and at the third, pull backward, keeping stroke with the after-oars. The oars should not be dropped into the water too suddenly, lest they get broken.

To turn a boat suddenly, order, Give way starboard (or port), back port (or starboard), Oars!Both backing and pulling oars should always keep stroke with the stroke oar of their own side, all oars taking and leaving the water together.

The following are given as the indications of a good stroke:

1. Taking the whole reach forward and falling back gradually a little past the perpendicular, preserving the shoulders throughout square, and the chest developed to the end.


2. Catching the water with the lower edge of the blade inclined forward, and beginning the stroke with a full tension on the arms at the instant of contact.3. A horizontal and dashing pull through the water as soon as the blade is covered, without ever dipping more than the blade.

4. Quick recovery after feathering, the arms being thrown forward perfectly straight at the same time as the body, the forward motion of arms and body ceasing together.

5. Equability in all the motions.

Sculling with a single oar should be taught.

Boat-rigs, Plate 83. Men-of-war boats are usually rigged as follows: Launches are sloop-rigged, with a jib and mainsail. Cutters and Whale-boats are rigged either with two sliding gunter-sails or two lug-sails; the former boats have a jib in addition.

A sliding gunter-mast, Fig. 401a, consists of two sections, nearly equal in length, called the lowermast and topmast; the latter slides upon the former, and is held in position by means of two metal rings secured to the topmast near its lower end. The topmast is on the after side of the lower mast. The sail is bent to the topmast and to metal hoops on the lower mast. Make sail by hoisting the topmast, which carries the head of the sail with it, hauling aft the sheet. The mainsail has a boom.

The rig is objected to for large boats, on account of the difficulty of handling and stowing the spar and sail, which are made up together.

Lug-sails are either standing lugs, three-quarter lugs or dipping lugs.

The halliards of a standing lug, Fig. 402, are bent to the yard a little inside of the forward end; the tack hooks, or is lashed, abaft the mast.

The halliards of a three-quarter lug, Fig. 403, are bent to the yard at one-fourth of its length from the forward end, the tack hooks a short distance forward of the mast to an eye in the fore-and-aft batten.

In a boat having two such lug-sails, it is customary to hoist the yards on opposite sides of their respective masts, and not to dip them. But if it is desired to dip, the sail is lowered a short distance, tack unhooked, taken round the mast and hooked again, while the forward end of the yard is dipped around by hauling down upon the luff of the sail. The halliards lead forward.

A regular dipping lug, Fig. 404, has the halliards bent at a point two-fifths of the length of the yard from its forward end, the tack hooks well forward of the mast, there being an eye-bolt for the fore tack on either bow.

In tacking or wearing with this rig, the after yard arm must be dipped around the mast from aftforward. This is done in tacking, as follows: the wind being on the (former)

Plate 83, Fig 400-405. Various boat rigs.


lee bow, one hand lowers the halliards just enough to let the after yardarm go round the mast. This ensures plenty of back sail forward where needed, and as little slack sail as possible on top of the men. One hand forward bears the fore part of the sail out, the next two gather the clew of the sail forward and pass it around the mast, one hand aft unhooks the sheet as soon as the sail lifts, and rehooks when the clew is passed aft again. Balance of crew hand along the foot of the sail and assist in rehoisting. Shift fore tack to the weather bow.In wearing, dip just before the wind is aft, rehoist when wind is on the other quarter. Do not allow the sails to gybe, and keep the halliards to windward.

In this connection may be mentioned the split lug, Fig. 405, generally used in British galleys (gigs), which have but one mast. The yard is slung at two-fifths its length from the forward end, as in case of the dipping lug, the sail is split in the wake of the mast, and furnished with a lacing, also with a second tack-lashing, or hook, for the after portion of the sail. Fitted in this manner, when the lacing is passed the sail is simply a dipping lug. With the lacing unrove and the after tack secured, the after part of the sail is used as a standing lug, the forward part (fitted with a temporary sheet) acts as a jib. The latter form of the rig is convenient in beating; the use of a jib-stay is avoided.

Dingies and gigs are usually supplied with sprit-sails-the latter boats may also have a jib. The upper end of a sprit is placed in a grommet at the peak of a sail, while the lower end ships in another grommet on the mast.

Masts should step in boxes and clamp to the thwart; clamp to be abaft the foremast and forward of the mainmast. The awkward and dangerous practice of stepping masts through a hole in the fore-and-aft batten, usually the flimsiest piece of material in the boat, cannot be too strongly condemned.

The British service rig includes an ingenious device (De Horsey’s) for stepping the foremast. A stout fore-and-aft piece is fitted forward, with a slit through its centre equal in length to the distance from the heel of the mast to the partners, and in width somewhat greater than the diameter of the mast. The mast is fitted with trunnions, one on each side, resting on the after part of the fore-and-aft piece. In stepping, the mast pivots fore and aft on these trunnions. As the head goes forward and up, the heel sinks into its step, where it is confined by a pawl, which is fitted with a safety key that locks it after the heel is in place. Fig. 397, Plate 82.

With this rig the mast is stepped or unstepped in a moment. To take the mast out of the boat, unkey the cap squares of the trunnions.

The mainmast in this case is fitted in the usual way


with a box and clamp, the fore being given the easier rig on account of its situation, which renders it more difficult to handle.Before stepping see the halliards are rove and that nothing will be required aloft. Never send a man aloft on the masts if halliards unreeve. Unstep the mast and rectify matters in that way.

Rigging. The masts being stepped, set up the shrouds equally and for a full due. Do not tamper with lee shrouds when sailing, to “set them up.” If they are hove taut in a stiff breeze, the next tack will probably result in your wrenching the head of the mast off.

Halliards and Down-hauls. The yard of a lug-sail hooks to an iron traveler on the mast; the hauling end of the halliards should have an eye in its end, to be placed over the hook of the traveler before hoisting, and used as a down-haul.

Set a jib before setting the foresail. The jib being the fore-stay, if the foresail is set first the mast-head is dragged aft and the after leach will be slack. If obliged to set the foresail first, ease the fore-sheet while hoisting the jib, and let the head of the foremast go to its place. See the jib tack well out to the bowsprit end before hoisting.

Sails. Do not stretch the head of boat sails in bending them, unless they are bent when wet. Bring them to the yards and gaffs barely hand taut, to allow for shrinkage when damp, or the fit of the sail will be spoiled. See the yards slung so that the sails will set smoothly.

Boat Sailing. Make all the men who are not shoving the boat off sit down. “Shove off,” “in fenders.” In shoving off when the ship is not head to wind, pull clear of her before making sail. If the ship is broadside to a steady breeze you may make sail from the lee gangway, but look out for flaws.

Ship being head to wind, “Shove off,” “Hoist the jib,” then the foresail. If intending to sail on the wind, “hoist the mainsail” as soon as the boat is clear. If bound to leeward, let the boat pay off first to her course, then “hoist the mainsail,” “ease off fore and jib sheets,” and proceed.

If you want a pull on the halliards, slack the sheet; if the fore, check the main sheet at the same time.

Have the halliards coiled clear for running; do not allow the crew to stand on the thwarts or move about in the boat, nor the coxswain to let go the helm, as is sometimes done to get a pull of the main sheet, &c. By this thoughtless practice a boat may be taken aback and capsized. See that the weights are kept amidships and that all sheets are tended, not belayed.

If running and about to round to, remember that you cannot carry all the sail on a wind that you can before it, and reduce in consequence beforehand.


Running dead to leeward in a single-masted boat (gig) is dangerous. It is preferable to carry the wind a little on one quarter for half the distance, then haul aft the sheet, lower, shift the sail around, and head for your destination with the wind on the other quarter.If your men are all sitting to windward in a breeze, make them take their proper places before passing to leeward of a vessel.

Steering and Trimming Boats. The “rule of the road” and the remarks about handling ship apply equally to a boat. See Chapter XXI.

Putting the rudder right across the stern deadens the way; 42° is considered the extreme of efficiency.

When there is no way on, or when the boat is tied by the stern-as in towing, when the tow-line is fast to the wrong place, the stern ring-bolt–the rudder has no effect whatever.

Always endeavor, either by trimming sails or disposition of weights, to reduce the boat to a “small helm,” for when the rudder is dragged much across the stern the way is retarded. Weather helm will be induced by allowing the boat to be pressed by the head, and this may be caused by the bowmen sitting forward, or by press of sail, or both. If the bows are clear, a pull on the jib-sheet mightrelieve the helm, but not as a matter of course; for if the jib was already flat, it might be the cause of depression, and a few inches checked would perhaps answer the purpose. Then the main sheet might be the cause, and an inch of that sheet might be the remedy. But it will be of no use to attempt trimming until the sails are taut up and well set; and then the officer in command can make his alteration of trim, until the boat may be so nicely balanced that, by sending the bowmen forward and letting go the tiller, she will go about of herself.

If the bow is deep and the stern light of draught, the former is not so easily blown from the wind as the latter. If, on the contrary, the stern be deep, and the bow light, the bow is readily thrown to leeward by the conjoint action of wind and sea. In the first of these cases-supposing the sail to be well balanced-the boat would carry weather helm; in the last, lee helm; but in either, her way would be more or less diminished. The drag of cross helm might be decreased by reducing sail at one of the extremities, but at the expense of speed; whereas, by trimming weights, all sail might be carried, and speed increased.

Use water in breakers for ballast.

Tacking. Having previously described the method of dipping lugs, let us assume the boat to be a cutter fitted with jib and sliding gunters. Keep a good full for stays, then “Ready about,” the helm iseased down, then “ease off the jib sheet!” if the boat is a slow worker and does not


come to readily, otherwise the jib sheet may be kept fast. Haul the main-boom handsomely amidships. When head to wind shift over the fore sheet, be careful not to make a back sail of the foresail. Bear the jib out to windward to assist in paying the boat’s head around. When the jib has paid the head off sufficiently to fill the foresail, “draw jib,” hauling aft the jib and fore sheet, right the helm, haul aft the main sheet.If the boat gathers stern-board shift the helm; get out an oar on the lee bow to bring her head around, or let all the crew that are in the after part of the boat place themselves on the (old) weather quarter, the boat will then pay off the right way, owing to the pressure of the water being more on the immersed quarter than the other.

Thus, if the boat is head to wind and her bow ought to pay off to starboard, send the men who are aft to the starboard quarter, their weight depressing that quarter the bow will pay off as desired.

Men-of-war boats fitted with but one sail (unless a split. lug) should not attempt to beat to windward.

In working to windward among shipping, or in a harbor, if there is any doubt of your weathering a particular object, it is always safest to tack. In luffing up for a “half board” a boat quickly loses her way and becomes for the time being unmanageable. This would probably result in your fouling the danger you have tried to avoid.

Wearing. Put the helm up, “ease off the main sheet”! or, in a fresh breeze, “brail up the main-sail”! Slack off the fore and jib sheets as she goes off; when the wind is well on the quarter, “shift over the fore sheet”; with the wind on the new weather quarter set the mainsail, or, “haul aft the main sheet,” then the fore; when nearly by the wind, haul aft the jib sheet and right the helm.

Instead of lowering the main-sail altogether, it is sufficient to “brail up,” hauling aft the sheet again as soon as the sail will take on the new tack.

Under Sail and Oars, When the wind fails, get out oars and keep the boat under oars and sail as long as the latter are of any assistance. If the breeze freshens again, lay in at least the lee oars to avoid catching crabs and. splitting the gunwale. When the weather oars barely strike the water, in consequence of the boat’s inclination, it is time to lay them in also. Ship rowlock shutters, if used.

Heaving-to. Put the helm down, haul the main-boom well over amidships, the jib-sheet to windward, brail up the fore-sail.

Reefing. Before reefing, tell off the men for the different duties; using lug sails, two men forward haul. down on the luff of the sail and shift the tack, one hand by the halliards, one at the downhaul, one to tend the sheet,


the rest tie the points and shift the sheet-block at the clew. Do not luff, check the sheets, lower enough to tie the points, hauling in the fore-sheet so that the men can get at the foot of the sail without reaching over the lee gunwale; shift the tack and sheet, and tie the points; slack the sheet, hoist and haul aft.Hoist the foresail first, or if the mainsail be first hoisted, check its sheet till the boat has headway, or she will get in the wind and lose time. Reef a sliding gunter in the same way, except that there is no need of a downhaul, nor of hauling down upon the luff of the sail.

In reefing, do not roll up the foot of the sail snugly; it holds more water than when the sail is loosely tied up by the points.

Always begin to reef when the boat commences to bury her lee gunwale or shows signs of being crank.

In reefing, or performing any of the evolutions described, nobody needs to stand up. Good boatmen never jump about on the thwarts, or show more than their heads above the gunwale.

Squalls. Sailing on a wind, in moderate squalls, ease the sheets enough to relieve the boat, keep enough steerage-way to bring her promptly into the wind if the squall increases.

When caught in a hard and sudden squall, put the helm down at once, let fly the fore-sheet; and as such squalls frequently veer more or less, lower the sail; for if it catches aback there would be difficulty in getting it down, danger and sternway from keeping it hoisted.

Sailing with the wind abeam, if a squall comes up, receive it with the sheets flowing and halliards clear for running.

The squall increasing in violence, brail up the mainsail, up helm, and if need be, lower and reef the foresail.

If obliged to run before a very fresh breeze, use a reefed foresail, but in any case carry enough sail to keep ahead of the sea.

An empty breaker, or spar towed astern, will much diminish the danger of being pooped.

Caught in a Gale. If blown out to sea, or otherwise unable to reach the ship in a gale of wind, lash your spars, sails, and all but half a dozen oars, together. Make a span of the heaviest rope available. Bend the span to the opposite ends of the largest spar, bend the end of your painter to the span and launch the spars overboard; the longer the scope the easier the boat will ride, to the breakwater thus formed. The sails should be loosed on attaching their yards to the spars, they will thus contribute greatly to breaking the sea. If weights be fastened to the clews the boat’s drift will be much retarded.

Capsizing. As a rule, remain by the boat-she will


assist those that cannot swim to keep afloat, and those who can swim may, with the aid of the boat, render valuable assistance.Taking in SailTo take in the jib, foresail being set, slack the tack and gather in the sail on the foot, lower the halliards. If the foresail is not set, lower the halliards first, gather in on the after leech and foot; when down, let go the tack.

To take in a lug-sail, check the sheet, haul down on the downhaul and luff of the sail at the same time; do not haul on the after leech, as it causes the fore-part of the sail to fill and the traveller to bind against the mast.

With sliding gunter sails, lower the halliards, then brail up.

Going alongside. If under oars, a fresh breeze blowing, pull, as a rule, for the lee gangway. Boat the oars instead of tossing them, whether going or coming, whenever there is any considerable motion, as they are apt to take under chains, ports or other projections from ships or wharves.

If under sail in a fresh breeze, always get down the masts before coming alongside. Round to ahead, down masts, out oars, and drop down; or shoot up under the stern, and down masts before getting under the quarter boats.

Ship head to wind, no tide, get the main-yard end on, keep the boat away a little to allow for rounding to, “down jib,” and rig in the bowsprit in good season; when with way enough, “brail up the foresail,” put the helm down, haul flat aft the main sheet, brail up the mainsail as soon as it ceases to draw, out fenders.

If there is any current, make allowance for it by heading for a point further forward or aft, as the case may be.

Riding to a windward tide, if approaching from abaft the beam, the foresail may be taken in and mast unstepped, using the mainsail only to bring her alongside. Approaching the ship from forward of the beam, unstep masts and out oars.

Whenever there is the slightest doubt of your ability to fetch the gangway under sail, brail up, unstep the masts and pull alongside.

Always unstep the masts in approaching a vessel under way, and do not board, or shove off from, a vessel which has sternway on.

If unable to fetch the ship in a strong tideway or fresh breeze, keep as much as possible in her wake. The ship will veer astern a buoy or small boat bearing a line by means of which the boat can be warped up alongside.

Under similar circumstances the gangway being unshipped (River Plate, Canton River, &c.), a small hawser may be carried around the ship outside all, the bight made


fast to the bowsprit cap, the ends reaching the water astern and the hawser suspended on both sides from each lower yard-arm by whips with bowline knots.The hawser is triced up clear when not in use, and dropped in good season as a boat rope for approaching boats.

In going alongside a ship riding to her anchor, or underway, round to so that bow of the boat will be in the same direction as the ship’s head.

But if a vessel is moored head and stern, approach her by rounding to head to the current.


The steam launch and sailing launch hoist inboard, or are carried on the rail.

Barges and cutters hoist in the waist forward or abaft the gangways, or there may be enough cutters to require all four sets of davits in the waist; the barge, whale boats, and an additional cutter hoisting to two sets of double davits on the quarters; gig and dingy hoisting astern; the latter may be stowed on board in one of the launches.

The steam launch is used in towing, transporting stores and for passengers.

The sailing launch and the larger cutters are employed in all heavy work, carrying out anchors, watering and provisioning ship.

Barges are for the use of flag officers, and are supplied only to flag-ships.

Gigs are for the use of commanding officers. Whaleboats are used as life-boats or for answering signals, &c.

Dingies are used in conveying stewards and servants, or for other light work.

The cutters not reserved as working boats are the “running boats” of the ship for transporting passengers and other general duties.

In Port, nothing sooner indicates the order and discipline of a man-of-war than the clean state and efficient condition of her boats. The coxswains of the regular running boats for the day should clean and have them ready for lowering at the proper time, usually at morning colors.

When boats are lowered, they are hauled out and secured to pendants at the lower booms, fenders out; gigs and dingies are secured to the stern pendants.

Every boat when down should contain a boat-keeper the duty being taken by the members of the boat’s crew in turn. Usually in a cutter, the men who occupy the same


thwart are detailed for one day, the next thwart taking the duty on the following day.A boat-keeper is to keep his boat clear of others, to haul it up to the boom for manning, and to haul forward clear of the gangway when other boats come alongside or shove off.

Boat-keepers rise and salute all commissioned officers passing, leaving, or going on board the ship.

To keep a boat clear of a ship when riding astern, let her tow the boat-bucket.

In blowy weather heavy boats are moored at the boom with a hawser led through a block on the boom to another on the bowsprit, thence inboard. This relieves the spar of much strain.

A launch may be hoisted out of water overnight or to scrub her bottom, by using the cat and a stout purchase to the bowsprit. If hoisted for scrubbing, send the hands under her in the catamaran.

The crews of running boats should wear their neck handkerchiefs, shoes and cap-ribbons, and be mustered for inspection every morning by the officer of the deck.

Boats should be manned from the booms or stern pendants if moored there. Three minutes is a fair allowance of time for manning a boat and bringing her to the gangway.

Boat Salutes. Boats not laden nor engaged in towing, when meeting or passing other boats, observe the following ceremonies:

To a boat with the flag of an admiral, vice, or rear-admiral, or the broad pennant of a commodore, boats with a narrow pennant, and those containing staff officers of the relative rank of commanding officer, are to lie on their oars or let fly their sheets, and boats without pennants are to toss their oars or lower their sails.

All officers meeting their own immediate commander with his pennant flying, will salute by lying on their oars or letting fly the sheets.

Officers inferior in grade to any other commanding officer than their own salute also as above, lying on their oars or letting fly the sheets.

The coxswain salutes all commissioned officers by standing and raising his cap, and salutes warrant officers by raising his cap only.

The officer to whom a salute is tendered should promptly acknowledge the same by raising his cap, and in all cases the salute by raising the cap is mutually made, but first by the junior in rank or seniority.

The officer and coxswain of loaded boats, and boats engaged in towing, salute a flag officer by standing and raising their caps; in all other cases the boat officer salutes by raising the cap only. (See U. S. Navy Regulations.)


Give the preparatory order in good time, and when at such bearing and distance that the salute can be best observed, give the order of execution; permit the boats to pass before resuming the stroke, hoisting, or hauling aft.The officer of the boat and coxswain salute at the same time of saluting with the oars or sails.

Instead of tossing, single-banked boats trail their oars.

A junior should never pass his superior officer when pulling in the same direction, except when on urgent duty.

When boats are approaching the same landing or vessel, an inferior is always to yield the way to a superior in grade. Boats about leaving the ship’s side with inferiors are to give way in ample season to others approaching it with superiors.

In stepping into a boat the junior goes first, and remains standing till the senior is seated; in leaving a boat the junior remains until after the senior has disembarked.

Duties of a Boat Officer. When ordered to take charge of a boat, report promptly to the officer of the deck, dressed in the uniform of the day, and with side arms. If there is no midshipman of the quarter-deck, see the boat lowered and manned, or manned and dropped to the gangway from the boom. See the crew in uniform, coxswain in, oars up, blades fore-and-aft.

Receive your orders, and be sure that you understand them perfectly before leaving the ship, and also assure yourself that all necessary articles are in the boat.

Having received your orders get in the boat, shove off and let fall.

If going to another man-of-war use the port side, except when there are commissioned officers in the boat, or when the starboard ladder only is shipped. Salute the quarterdeck on stepping over the gangway, and report to the officer of the deck. When ready to leave the ship, request the officer of the deck to have your boat manned, instead of giving orders yourself. When your boat is ready, report your departure.

If in a tideway, and likely to be detained on board for some time, request permission for your boat to hang on at the boom; do not allow your men to come on board without permission from the officer of the deck.

If advisable, for any reason, order the coxswain as you leave the boat to shove off and lie off the ship.

Preserve silence and order at all times in your boat, see that the men pull properly, or, if sailing, that the sails are handled in accordance with the foregoing instructions.

When a boat officer must be absent from his boat, he should leave his coxswain in charge, with positive orders concerning his duty.

Pulling in for a landing among a crowd of boats, lay


on your oars at a reasonable distance from the wharf, instead of boating your oars at the last moment. This leaves you control of the boat, and you can back or give way as may be needed to avoid collision, instead of dashing in, breaking oars and boat-hooks, and may be staving your own boat. Boat the oars when no longer needed.Make due allowance for the rate at which the tide is going past a ship, or the rate at which she may be moving, when making for her. A current frequently sets close along. the shore in the opposite direction to the one that is going by the ship; and, therefore, a little judgment may save a long pull. An inquiring boat officer will learn more of the local tides and currents by a chat with a water-man than can be found in books; and by observing the manoeuvres of native boatmen much labor and risk may be avoided.

When practicable always keep out of the strength of a contrary tide.

Avail yourself of every opportunity for steering by a range, as there are many coxswains who cannot steer a straight course athwart a strong tide.

If conveying on shore a person entitled to a salute, work up ahead of the ship if practicable, lay on your oars, flow your sheets, or stop the engine (as the case may be) at the first gun, and proceed after the last gun is fired.

A boat officer has charge of the boat, but when carrying commissioned officers the senior line officer has authority to interfere, and if need be to take command.

Never attempt to cut across the bows of a boat containing commissioned officers. Be on the alert to give the proper salutes to all officers in passing boats of whatever nationality, and be particular that the coxswain salutes all officers, and rises to salute commissioned officers.

The boat officer does not rise to salute, except when in a laden boat he passes a boat flying the broad pennant of a commodore, or the flag of an admiral.

At night, in thick weather, or when far from land, do not leave the ship without a compass; and get the bearing of the place to which you are bound before starting. Take a bearing of your own ship also before losing sight of her. It has been found very convenient to keep a supply box always in each boat, containing a pistol, flash-pan, powder, caps, a rocket and blue light, hatchet and a few nails, &c. (See Ordnance Manual.)

A boat officer is always supposed to have his watch and boarding book at hand.

When ordered on boat duty, it is well to remember your men’s meal hours, either taking the provisions in the boat, or warning the master-at-arms that the crew will be absent.

Acquire the habit of sitting down in a boat, and never

Plate 84, Fig 406-409.  Methods of towing a boat, dragging ashore, and lifting.


stand up to perform any work which may be done sitting.Always step at once into the midships of a boat in getting into one, and never on the gunwale.

The boat should be baled out, slings hooked, and otherwise prepared for hoisting, before reaching the ship, if intending to hook on.

In boarding a merchant vessel fill out the columns of your boarding book. If sent on board a man-of-war to offer services, &c., keep any information acquired for insertion in your book after leaving the vessel.

Finally, bear in mind at all times the following points:

Keep a boat bows on to a heavy sea.
Never jamb a helm down too suddenly or too far.
Keep your weights amidships.
Never belay the sheets.

Being Towed by a Vessel. If alongside, have the tow-rope from as far forward as possible, never make it fast, but toggle it with a stretcher to the forward thwart, steadying it over the stem with the bight of your painter, or pass it through the foremost rowlock on the side nearest the ship. Fig. 407.

When towing astern, the closer the better. In casting off, if there are other boats towing astern, either be dropped clear of them all, with your tow-line, before letting go, or be handy with your oars to avoid getting athwart-hawse of some of them.

Do not permit other boats to hold on to a vessel by your boat. Get more of your own tow-line, steady it over the stem and stern with slip lines, and pass the end into the next boat astern. Fig. 406.

Towing. In taking another boat in tow, pass clear of her oars; place yourself right ahead, exactly in line, and give way the instant that you have hold of her painter. Do not give another boat your painter until she is in line ahead of your boat. Toggle the tow-line between the two after thwarts with a stretcher. Toggle your own painter to the forward thwart before giving it to a boat ahead. This saves the stem and stern-post. If you wish to turn your boat’s head, bear the tow-line over the quarter on that side to which you desire to turn, for the helm will be of little or no use.

In towing short round, do not attempt to turn before your leaders are around.

The heaviest boats should always be nearest the tow.

Boats will tow with increased effect if weighted with shot. A few lengths of stream chain is the quickest weight that can be passed in and out, besides being less damaging to the boat.

Taking another boat in tow without delaying the duty by fouling her oars, or the boat itself, is a very neat


performance, and, when well done, betokens judgment and skill.Tow spars by their smaller ends.

A steam-launch being frequently used in towing may be fitted with a span of wire rope, the ends being secured to either quarter and with a good-sized thimble in the bight to receive the tow-line. The steering is rendered much easier by the use of this span.

Towing Fire Ships, or Vessels on Fire. When boats are sent on this service, provide them with a few lengths of small chain, to make fast to the burning vessel; grapnels would do well to throw on board, and then make fast the tow-rope to the chain of the grapnel, for the boats to tow from. There are many instances of towropes and hawsers being burnt when employed on this service, and other vessels much endangered from want of this precaution. If hawsers are sent to be made fast to a burning vessel, with the intention of warping her clear of other vessels, using a length of stream-chain cable for the bending end will be found much safer than trusting to rope alone.

Boarding a Wreck or Vessel in a Heavy Sea. Whenever practicable, a vessel, whether stranded or afloat, should be boarded to leeward, as the principal danger to be guarded against must be the collision of the boat against the vessel, or her swamping by the rebound of the sea, and the greater violence of the sea on the windward side is much more likely to cause such accidents.

In boarding a stranded vessel on the lee side, if broadside to the sea, the chief danger to apprehend is the falling of the masts or the destruction of the boat amongst the wreckage alongside. Under such circumstances it may be necessary to take a wrecked crew into a life-boat from the bow or stern.

Large life-boats used on flat shores or shoals, usually anchor to windward in boarding a wreck, and veer down from a safe distance until near enough to throw a line on board.

In every case of boarding a wreck or a vessel at sea, it is important that the lines by which a boat is made fast to the vessel should be of sufficient length to allow of her rising and falling freely with the sea, and every rope should be kept in hand ready to cut or slip in a moment, if necessary. On wrecked persons or other passengers being taken into a boat in a sea-way, they should be placed on the thwarts in equal numbers on either side, and be made to sit down, all crowding and rushing headlong into the boat being prevented as far as possible; and the captain of the ship, if a wreck, should be called on to remain on board her to preserve order until every other person shall have left the ship.219


An exception to the usual rule of boarding to leeward occurs in the case of a vessel of very low free board, such as small schooners, &c. Board such craft on the weather quarter to avoid being stove by the vessel’s main-boom, or chains, &c.Warping. A warp is a rope or a hawser employed occasionally to remove a ship from one place to another in a port or river.

To warp a vessel is to change her situation by pulling her from one part of a harbor to another, by means of warps which are taken to other ships, buoys, or certain stations on shore. The ship is then drawn forward to those fixed points, either by pulling on the warp by hand, or by application of some purchase, as a tackle, or capstan.

Wet warps require careful seizing. Make four parts of a spun-yarn seizing, take a round turn with the bight of this round the standing part of the warps, then pass the seizing (figure of eight fashion) round the hitches and standing part, then cross opposite ways with two parts each way, reeve the ends through the bights and drag all the turns taut.

The quick way to run a short warp out, is for one, boat to run away with the end, and the others to pull in fore-and-aft under the bights, as they are payed out at equal distances, according to the length of the warp and number of boats, giving way the moment they have got hold.

In all cases when you take in the end of a warp, coil enough of it forward so as to be able to make a bend the instant your boat reaches the place where you wish to make fast.

It is hardly possible to lay a heavy warp out without floating its bight. If there is a chance of its being suddenly tautened, hang it outside the boat instead of laying it fore and aft amidships.

A Guess Warp. To lay out a warp to windward, or against a tide, coil the whole warp in the boat, pull to the place assigned, make fast and drop down to the ship.

To lay out a warp to leeward, or with the tide. Take most of the warp in the boat, let the ship pay out more after the boat has shoved off, until what is in the boat is sufficient, then pay out from the boat to the make-fast. Whichever way it be, there is great judgment required in reserving a sufficiency of hawser in the boat to insure that she will reach her destination, only paying out when certain of doing so. It is from this necessity for judging the distance by the eye that we have the term “guess warp.”

When you are given the end of a hawser to run out which is not becketed, put a hitch on it and stop the end down at once.


Kedging. When the operation of warping is performed by the ship’s kedges, these, together with their warps, are carried out in the boats alternately, towards the place where the ship is endeavoring to arrive, so that when she is drawn up close to one, another is carried out to a sufficient distance ahead, and being sunk, serves to fix the other warp, by which she may be further advanced; the first kedge is then weighed, sent ahead, and the operation repeated. This is commonly called kedging.When great expedition is required, the boats should be equally divided into two parties, the light boats towing the larger containing the kedge and hawsers. As soon as the first kedge is let go and the ship started ahead, the other set may “pay and go,” so that when the first is at a “short stay,” the second may be let go, and the ship thus kept going continuously.

The evolution of kedging was practised on board the Constitution, during the exciting chase in which she escaped from the British squadron, under Sir Philip Broke.

There are many cases when kedging might be necessary to modern vessels if disabled or not under steam.

Carrying Stores. When provisioning ship, be careful with the oars, as the blades are easily ruined by throwing them on stones or by treading on them; keep all casks “bung up,” and leave space under the afterthwart for baling the boat out. Have tarpaulins for covering bread or anything that will be injured by salt water. Sling the midship casks as they are stowed. While loading, make large allowance for the roughness of water you may have to encounter.

Do not overload a boat, particularly with men or sand; the former may be attended with loss of life; in the latter case, it must be remembered that sand is much lighter when dry than wet. Be prepared to buoy treasure if carried.

A laden boat carries her way longer than a light one, therefore shorten sail or “way enough” in good time.

Boats taking in water in bulk. The launch, or largest boat you intend for the purpose of watering, must be cleared of all her gear of every description; then tow or pull her to the watering place, where she must be well washed out with water several times, until perfectly clean; when done, put the hose into the boat, and merely leave a couple of hands to attend it until the boat is full; then, by a signal from the shore, or otherwise, send a boat to tow her off to the ship; pump the water out of the boat into your tanks, and so on until you complete your water. If in a river, pull the plug out and let her fill.

In watering from a spring, keep the end of the suction hose in a tub, or have a rag around the strainer to keep out gravel or sand.


Hauling up boats on shore. Before leaving the ship, see the boat’s anchor and a good luff tackle in the boat. If it is a heavy boat, say a launch, take a couple of stout towlines or small hawsers as well, with additional tackles.Run the boat’s bow on to the beach, and let a few hands on each quarter keep her in that position, by setting their oars against the ground; next, sweep her with a hawser, and guy it up at the stern to a proper height by several turns of the painter; to this hawser hook on the double block of the tackle, the other end, or single block, being overhauled to a proper length, and hooked to the boat’s anchor buried in the ground, with one hand on it to prevent rising. Fig. 408.

Pass the bight of another hawser round the stern post, and having guyed it up on each side to the gunwale, hook on, on each side, a quarter tackle also, overhauled to a proper length, and hooked at the other end where convenient; man these with the remaining hands; then, having placed rollers in succession to take the boat’s forefoot and keel, proceed to haul away. When up, the loose thwarts set against the ground and wash-streak will keep her upright.

The loose thwarts should also be placed for the rollers to roll on if the ground is soft.

Smaller boats do not require quarter tackles, and may be hauled up by their crews if provided with rollers and tackle, as described.

Boats that are being frequently hauled up and launched should have a hole in the forefoot, through which a strap for the tackle could reeve. When the tackle is secured to the boat at the top of her stem, it buries her gripe in the mud.

To transport on land a moderate-sized boat, turn her bottom up and shoulder her by the gunwales. A heavy boat should not at any time be turned bottom up, on account of the strain.

Having hauled up boats or small vessels on temporary ways for repairing, remember that sea-weed is as good as soap on the ways, in launching.

Embarking Heavy Articles. In the entire absence of usual resources, great weights, such as a gun for instance, may be got into a boat where there is great rise and fall by filling the boat at low water with dunnage or sand, banking up an inclined plane with shingle, rolling the gun into the boat, clearing out the sand and waiting for the tide to float her off.

Get a boat under a low bridge, or under a weight that cannot be raised high enough to clear the gunwale, by taking the plug out; then replacing it and pumping out the water.

When weighing anything heavy over the stern of the


launch, bear the rope amidships and ship the awning stanchion over it, the latter being fitted with two legs, one on either side of the stern roller. This will keep the rope from flying over to the quarter and capsizing the boat.Life-boats. In men-of-war, a boat on each quarter is designated as a “life-boat.” These boats are fitted with a detaching apparatus of some one of the patterns described below, and are otherwise prepared for immediate use at sea, the other boats being topped up and more permanently secured.

There is a life-boat’s crew in each watch, composed of the best seamen in it, and with plenty of supernumeraries to supply the places of men aloft, at the wheel, or sick, The coxswain of the life-boat’s crew of the watch inspects both life-boats at sundown, sees the plugs in, towline from forward secured in place and clear, falls clear for running, gripes ready for slipping, oars in place, steering-oar pointed but clear of the after block, bag of bread, breaker of water and bucket (or bailer) in the boat, and a lighted boat compass at hand abaft the wheel, in charge of cabin orderly, or in some place well known to both crews. He should report to the officer of the deck, “Life-boats clear and ready for lowering.”

Being in charge of the life-boat when called away, see plug in and compass in the boat, all the gear ready as above described; send out all supernumeraries, slip the gripes, stand by lever of detaching apparatus yourself, if worked in the after part of the boat, otherwise go to the steering-oar. Caution the bowman, who may be looking out for the towline, to keep clear of the forward block till detached.

Detach the boat in good season; some forms of apparatus will slip one fall at a time if the boat becomes partly waterborne owing to delay at the lever.

The boat being unhooked, the boat-rope should have drift enough to let you shoot out well clear of the side while being towed. Take advantage of this to have every oar rigged out and manned before letting go.

If the boat is sluggish in getting clear, shove her stern out and cast off the towline; the ship moving on, leaves you head to sea; out oars as speedily as possible.

If after a man overboard, let a cool hand watch the ship for signals and steer accordingly. On reaching the man, if he has the buoy and is not exhausted, round to head to wind before picking him up. In any case, on approaching him, trail as many oars as possible, and be careful how the remaining ones are handled; get the man aboard forward if possible, then out oars, pull ahead, and take in the buoy over the quarter.

Your vessel having run to leeward to pick you up, it will be advisable in a heavy sea to tow the buoy on your way back with a good scope, letting it act as a drag.


Pull up under the lee of the ship get your towline first, as previously described under “HOISTING.” Bend your line from the buoy to another line passed from aft, and let the buoy be roused up to its proper place.In hoisting let the men put their weights on the life-lines. When hooked on, the boat is run up smartly and without stopping, as the vessel rolls toward it.

When boats are suddenly lowered, in an emergency, it is very often of the highest importance that they should be provided with means of night-signalling, _ sounding, or effecting temporary repairs. The boat boxes containing the necessary articles are now usually kept in the hold. It would be better if essential articles were kept in a small locker built in to the boat, as is the case in other navies.

In referring to the above-mentioned boats as “lifeboats,” the word is not to be understood in its literal sense, as regular life-boats are not supplied to vessels of the navy.

Small empty casks or breakers, tightly bunged and lashed beneath the thwarts, would partially convert any boat into a life-boat, by making it impossible for her to founder.

Balsas, or life-rafts, are supplied to vessels of war-being of different sizes and material, but similar in design. They consist of two cylindrical-shaped air-chambers, pointed at both ends, and supporting a platform, or raft. The air cylinders are either of wood, or made of rubber covered with canvas; in smaller forms the air-chambers are sometimes of rubber, not covered. When the air-chambers are of rubber the larger balsas are usually kept empty until wanted, when the air-chambers are inflated by means of a sort of bellows and tube.

A small form of wooden balsa is used throughout the service as a catamaran, or boat for the side cleaners. The small rubber balsas are excellent substitutes for life-buoys, and in many ships are slung at the quarters for that purpose. They can be used to carry lines astern or ashore, in the case of a wreck.

For management of boats in a surf see Appendix F.


The following Instructions for Working the Engines of Steam Launches are introduced here, as the boat officer is not unfrequently thrown entirely on his own resources.*

* From the “Sailors’ Pocket Book,” by Captain F. G. D. Bedford, R. N.


The engine should not be removed from the boat oftener than can be helped. The boiler of steam launches should be lifted, examined at the bottom, and painted every month.See that the tanks, fitted for the purpose, are properly supplied with coal and fresh water.

The connection with propellers and water-tight joints must be made good before leaving the ship.

Water is run into the boiler through a hose by removing one of the safety-valves. When the water is showing from one-half to three-fourths up the gauge-glass, remove the hose and replace the safety-valve. Great care must be taken to see the valve and its seating perfectly clean before the valve is replaced.

To get up Steam. Put a surface of coal over the fire-bars, shut the ash-pit door, and light up with wood and coal at the front until a sufficient body of fire is obtained to ignite the coal on the bars, when the fire may be pushed back, and the ash-pit door opened.

When steam begins to show by the gauge, try the safety-valves, and use the blast (if the steam be required in great haste), until sufficient pressure be obtained.

The Boiler will require the most careful and constant attention while steaming. When attainable, fresh water should always be used.

From 40 to 50 lbs. of steam pressure is quite sufficient for all ordinary service. Leaks about tubes and tube-plates are most frequently caused by forced steaming.

The water should never be allowed to go below the mark of low level.

At high speed it is liable to show higher in the gauge-glass than it really is.

The gauge-glass and gauge-cocks must be frequently tried, the one being a check on the other.

The water moving in the glass with the movements of the boat is a proof of the glass-gauge being correct.

Care should be taken to prevent spray from striking the gauge-glass, as it is very liable to break it.

Maintain a sufficient quantity of water in the boiler and keep the feed-water supply as nearly constant as possible. In the event of the water getting low the fire must be checked as quickly as possible; to effect this, open the front connection door, shut the ash-pit door, and throw on wet ashes. In an extreme case, draw the fire.

Starting the Engine. Have every fractional part of the engines carefully oiled, especially cylinders, slide-valves, eccentrics, cranks, and thrust; open the small drain-cocks in connection with the cylinders and slide-valves, to get rid of condensed water, and let them remain open for a few turns of the engines. The steam-valve may


be left a little open while steam is getting up, to warm the engine.Starting ahead or astern is effected by link-motion, and requires no consideration after observing the movement of the handle connected with the link.

Great care should be taken to admit the steam to the engines gently at first, and get them up to their full speed gradually.

Running. Attention to the engines is required in preventing over-heating of working parts.

Any, unusual noise must be quickly attended to, and cause ascertained.

Sea-Water. If obliged to use sea-water for the feed, let the process of blowing-off be as constant and continuous as possible.

Firing. The firing must be careful, and frequent, in just sufficient quantity to keep the fire-bars properly covered; attention to this will go far to prevent priming.

Keep the steam at a regular pressure, and the fire-bars free from clinkers by hooking them out as soon as formed.

The tubes, fire-box, smoke-box, and the space at the back of the fire-bridge should be kept free and clean; this must be done as opportunity offers.

If the screw of a steam-launch is taken off for the purpose of her being used as a sailing-boat, the brass bushes, usually provided for the purpose, should be put on the end of the shaft (first coating them with white lead and tallow), in order to prevent them from the rapid galvanic action which takes place by their close proximity to the copper sheathing on the boat’s bottom. If no bushes are provided, the end of the shaft should be lapped round with spun-yarn well saturated with stiff white lead and tallow.

A steam-launch should not be driven at high speed in a seaway, and her outfit should always include a few oars and thole-pins, for use in case of accident to the machinery, also life preservers; especially in iron launches.

Jumping Booms. Steam-launches are commonly fitted with apparatus for spar-torpedoes, supplied and described by the Ordnance Bureau. To enable such torpedo boats to clear obstructions in the form of booms, the fittings shown in Fig. 398, Plate 82, have been successfully used, the object being to give the bows of the boats an upward slant on striking the boom, which enables them to jump it. The engine should be stopped on striking the boom, and until it is cleared.

The form of the skeleton frame fitted forward is, of course subject to variation, depending on the shape of the stem.



This device consists of two slotted, hinged links, A A, whose pivoting ends are secured in or near the stem and stern of the boat. The movable ends of these links are held in a fixed position, when necessary, by lengths of small chain, which are joined by a slip hook d. A tripping link, E, holds the slip-hook closed. By pulling upon the laniard, L, the slip-hook may be released, the hinged links, A, A, turn upward, and the falls, F F, are detached. Figs. 410 and 411.

The lower blocks of the falls are fitted with ball toggles, adjusted to enter the slots in the links A A. When a fall is hooked on, the tumbler, X, under the hinge, A, closes the slot and prevents accidental unhooking, whether in the case of one end of the boat being lifted by a sea in lowering, or before the falls have been set taut in hoisting.

The tumbler, X, is free to turn back to allow the toggle, F, to pass into place in hooking on, but it is then brought back immediately into place by the counter-balance on its lower end.

The ball toggles, F, may be either moused on old style of hooks, or the hooks may be removed and the toggles fitted to their places on the block-straps.

The rollers, B B, are made smaller than shown in the plate, which represents the apparatus fitted with flexible wire pendants, for which small chain is now substituted.

The enlarged figures, 412 and 413, show how the apparatus is now fitted in boats hung by the extremities, or from points nearer the centre of the boat.

In Fig. 412, y is an eyebolt for the boat’s painter.

In Fig. 413 it is desirable, when possible, that the head of the stanchion, S, should be steadied against a thwart in the bow or stern sheets.

After the apparatus is fitted in the boat, the chain is taken up to the proper length and cut at Z, and the long link welded in permanently.

It should be remembered that the chain must always be set taut, and only then is the boat ready forhooking on. Either fall can be hooked independently.

The laniard used for tripping the slip-hook should also be used as a preventer when the boat is hoisted, by hitching it forward around the chain, or thwart, or other convenient place.

To Lower and Detach when the Boat is reported ready. When the crew, coxswain and officer are in the boat, and after one of the stroke oarsmen has cast loose the laniard, and handed it to the officer in charge, the officer of the deck gives the order to “lower away.” As soon as the boat is near enough the

Plate 85, Fig 410-413. Boat hanging and detaching apparatus.


water, say about two feet, the person holding the end of the laniard gives a quick jerk, and thus freeing the ends of the chain, they slack and allow the links to rise and the toggles to escape simultaneously.In case the ship is rolling heavily very little lowering will be necessary, as the boat can be detached as she rolls toward the water, and will be clear of the ship before the return roll.

To Hook on the Boat. As soon as the boat is clear of the ship one of the stroke oarsmen brings the ends of the chain together, refastens the sliphook and hitches the laniard forward as a securing.

The boat is then ready for hooking on when she returns to the ship, after having completed her trip.

When she comes alongside, the man in the bow gets the forward fall and sticks the toggle into the large part of the link and pushes it up beyond the tumbler. The man in the stern does the same, and as the falls are set taut on deck, they slue the turns out of the falls, the toggles acting as swivels.


This contrivance for detaching boats is still in use on board some ships, and may be described as follows:

In Fig. 409, A is a fall block, C a bent lever with a slotted end, S, passing through a groove in the upright B, where it is hinged. The upright B is immovably connected at K with a stout stanchion bolted through the keel, and bears on its upper end a pivoting hook, H. The rod D hinges upon the lower end of C and upon the upright lever E, which is itself pivoted at 0. By moving the handle G forward, the traction on the rod D causes the slot S to release the hook H, and this in turn releases the fall. As shown in the figure, the action on both falls is simultaneous.

The enlarged sketch, Fig. 409 a, shows the detail of the forward part of the apparatus. Fig. 409 bshows the locking pin, by means of which the handle G is kept from being accidentally moved. In this figure, P is a plate screwed in the after thwart, D a space for the handle, B a locking pin, hinged at V. The plate is so placed that the locking pin is forward of the handle G, and must be thrown open before the handle can be moved.



The boat may be hung from the ordinary boats’ falls, in which case only the attaching and detaching apparatus in the boat is used. It may also be hung from the lowering and hoisting apparatus herein described.

The lowering and hoisting apparatus consists of a pendant, into the bight of which the lowering and hoisting tackle is hooked, and at the ends of which the boat hangs. The tackle is hooked into a thimble seized in the bight, and the boat is suspended from long links seized in the ends. The tackle hangs up and down alongside the mizzen mast, the ends of the pendants being rove through two blocks under the mizzen-top, and down through single blocks at the upper ends of the quarter-davits. The boat is lowered and hoisted by lowering and hauling on the hoisting tackle. It is clear that the boat must hoist and lower square. It is clear also that the use of wire-rope pendants facilitates the operation of hooking on.

The attaching and detaching apparatus in the boat consists of two similar hooks, H and H’, pivoted on two similar standards, S and S’, which are bolted in the bow and stern

Illustration of the Fiske apparatus.

of the boat. The boat hangs by these hooks, which are kept from turning around on their pivots by the detaching lever L and the connecting chain c. A lug l on the lever presses against a lug d on the after hook H, and holds H in


place, while the connecting chain C, which goes from the lug d to a similar lug d’ on H’, keeps H’ also in place.To detach, take out the safety-pin placed over the lever, and raise the lever smartly. This movement raises the lug l clear of the lug d, and frees both hooks. Both hooks now turn around simultaneously with the weight of the boat, and the boat drops square.

To hook on, put both hooks, the lever and safety-pin in the position they held before detaching. Hook on by passing the links inside the hooks. This operation forces up the valves V and V’, which fall of their own weight as soon as the links are inside, and automatically lock them in, to prevent accidental unhooking.

When the boat is lowered in port, unhook the connecting chain from the after detaching hook, and stow the chain forward out of the way.