In general a ship, trimming by the head, carries a taut weather helm. If, on the contrary, she is too much by the stern, she will carry a lee or slack helm.

When by the wind, a tremulous motion in the cloths of the mainsail will always indicate that the ship is then at the desired point of “full and by”-for when sailing thus obliquely to the breeze, the dog-vane does not show the true direction of the wind.*

When steering a course, much will depend upon the helmsman anticipating, or checking the ship in her inclination to yaw to starboard or to port; nor must he trust too much to the compass-card, but alternately watch the card, and the motion of the vessel’s head passing the clouds, the sea, or any other objects which may present themselves to view, more fixed than the compass itself. In blowing weather, the feel of the helm and the force of the wind are nice criterions to judge whether the vessel be falling off or coming to. As the vessel comes to against the helm, it will appear heavier, and the wind drawing forward will seem stronger. On the contrary, as she goes off, and gives way to the power of the helm, it eases in the hand, while at the same time the wind lessens in its force as it draws more abaft. To an attentive and nice observer, these circumstances, though seemingly trifling in themselves, indicate the motion of the vessel sooner than the compass. The stars or the breaking of the waves, at night, may also assist to prevent yawing the vessel about.

* The apparent direction of the wind, shown by the dog-vane, is a mean between the velocity of the ship and that of the wind, since that direction partakes more of the greater than of the less. If the ship runs east with the wind at south, having one-fourth the velocity of the wind, the vane will show about S. by E. 1/2 E. The angle between the real and apparent direction of the wind may sometimes amount to two points or more.


The leech of the mainsail* is always best to steer by when blowing fresh; and when the wind is very light, the main royal. It frequently occurs with an old sea on, in light airs, that the sails all flap to the masts with every roll, and render it extremely difficult to tell when the ship is near the wind. If, under these circumstances, the officer of the deck will occasionally walk to the lee side, and cast his eye up on the fore part, or front of the light sails, he can more easily tell when the ship is near the wind, as the difference sometimes amounts to more than a point in the course which the ship might make.Conning** is the art of directing the helmsman to steer the ship on her proper course by compass or by the wind; the person who performs this duty is generally the quartermaster or pilot. The following are some of the terms used in conning ship: When steering by compass or landmarks, and it is desirable that the vessel’s bows should go to the left, or to port, the order is given, Starboard! Whereupon the helmsman turns the spokes of the wheel over to port, or in the same direction the ship’s head is to go, and this according to the usual method of arranging the steering gear, has the effect of sending the tiller to starboard, and consequently of presenting the port side of the rudder to the action of the water.***

Hard a-starboard! means to heave the wheel over, so that the tiller will go to the extreme limit. When the vessel’s head points in the right direction, the order is given, Steady! if slightly to the right of her course, needing to go very little to the left, the order is given, Steady a-starboard-that is, steady as she goes, but a little to starboard with the helm, if anything. In the same way to send the ship’s head to starboard, order: Port, Hard a-port, Steady a-port. The terms wheel and helm are used indiscriminately.

Meet her! When the ship’s head flies to starboard or port in obedience to the helm, then, as she approaches her course the wheel is hove, spoke by spoke, the opposite way, to check her gradually that her head may not pass the desired point.

Should the ship be standing along on a bowline, and the quartermaster perceive a cloth or two of the main-topsail to be lifting, he cries out, No higher! by which he means that the ship is not only too high, or too near the wind, but that she should go off a little. Whereupon the helmsman gives her a spoke or so, of the weather wheel. On the contrary,

* As the leech of the mainsail reaches farthest to windward, it will be the first to lift in coming to the wind.

** By a contrivance of telegraphic wires, the officer of the deck, standing on the forward bridge, can communicate his orders to the man at the wheel, and receive a response with the utmost certainty.

*** But see closing paragraph of Chap. XXI.


should the quartermaster observe that the vessel was not quite near enough, he would say, Nothing of! meaning to let her come to the wind, when the helmsman must ease the wheel and permit her to come up. When the ship is a good full and by, he says, Very well thus! Again, he orders, Luff! Let her luff! when the helmsman eases the wheel and lets her come up into the wind; if she does not come up enough the order is given, Hard down! To prevent her from going around on the other tack, the quartermaster exclaims, No higher! and to stand on again, Keep her a good full and by!or simply Full and by! meaning close by the wind with the sails full.To keep the ship away, the order is, Let her go off! which may be followed by, Hard up! when off nearly enough, Meet her! and when heading the right way, Steady so! To haul her up to the wind again, Let her come to! Bring her by the wind! Keep her full and by! When any of these orders are given when sailing by the wind, or steering a course, you may see a bad helmsman heave his wheel over inconsiderately, giving the ship a rank sheer. This should be corrected by ordering him to give her a small helm. There are other expressions, such as, Nothing to starboard or port. “Nothing to the N’d, &c., of your course.” Mind your weather wheel! Keep her a clean full! right the helm! or put it amidships; Shift the helm, or change it from one side to the other, &c. When sailing with the wind aft, the terms starboard and port are used, and the same should be observed with the wind quartering to prevent mistakes.

As a general rule, in the service, when the helm is a-starboard, the turns of the starboard wheel rope will be found to have accumulated around the forward half of the barrel of the wheel-for a port helm the turns will, be found aft. A midship helm is indicated by the midship spoke of the wheel which is made differently from the rest that it may be detected at night by the touch.

In contriving any new steering gear it is quite an important item that the working of the wheel does not differ from that to which seamen are accustomed; that is, to heave the wheel in the direction the ship’s head is to go– otherwise, at some critical juncture, confusion may ensue, and probably serious disaster.

The perfection of equipping a ship with spars, rigging and sails, consists in so disposing them that the efforts of the forward and after sails to turn the ship will be so exactly balanced as not to require any continued assistance from the helm in either direction. Of the two evils, however, seamen have more patience with a ship disposed to, approach the wind than with one needing the continued action of the helm to keep her from falling off.



When a vessel is headed off from her course, the yards are braced up sharp, sheets trimmed aft, and by keeping her as near as possible to the wind, with the sails all full or drawing, she is then “close-hauled;” and the tack she is on is designated by the side of the vessel on which the wind blows; for instance-if the yards are braced up by the port braces, having the wind forward of the starboard beam, she is then “close-hauled on the starboard tack,” or “has her starboard tacks aboard.”

Your port of destination, or the point for which you wish to steer, being in the direction from which the wind blows, the nearest you can steer to that course, is when the vessel is close-hauled. In this case she will, if a square-rigged vessel, lie within from five and a half to six points of the wind (some vessels working nearer to the wind than others). And if, after standing on one tack a certain length of time, you “go about,” and stand on the other, and so on, you are approaching the object continually, in the proportion of about one-third of the distance sailed. This is termed “working,” “beating,” or “turning to windward.”

Tacking is the most usual method of going from one tack to the other, in moderate weather and with a good working breeze. It has this advantage over all others, that you lose nothing to leeward when it is properly performed; for vessels will frequently, if well managed, luff up head to wind, and go about, without for a moment losing their headway, but, on the contrary, gain several times their length directly to windward, while in stays.

In working to windward, the wind frequently “veers and hauls” three or four points, heading the vessel off or allowing. her to come up; this is particularly the case in the vicinity of land. The proper moment to tack in such cases, is when the wind is heading her off, for on the other tack you will evidently gain more to windward. By watching attentively, and taking advantage of such slants of wind, keeping the vessel a good full, and by the wind, you will gain much more on your course, than if you stood a certain number of miles or hours on each tack.

We will now proceed to “tack ship” under courses, topsails, topgallant sails, jib, and spanker; giving as nearly as possible the treatment for different vessels, and the necessary orders.

Ready about!

Keep her a good full for stays, see the men at their stations, viz.: a hand by the jib-sheet, hands by all the bowlines, lifts, tacks, and sheets; hands in the chains to overhaul the lee main sheet; the clew-garnets manned; topmen


at the breast back-stays, if any, and a few aloft to overhaul the lifts, and to attend to the out-riggers; a good helmsman at the wheel; a quarter-master at the conn; a few hands at the spanker sheet and lee topping-lift, and all the rest of the force at the weather main and lee cross-jack braces, lee main tack and weather main sheet. The men being at their stations, proceed as follows:Ready! Ready! and to the man at the wheel, Ease down the helm! Fig. 477, No. 1.

Haul the spanker boom amidships. The helm being down, order

HELM’S A-LEE! Ease off the fore and jib-sheets.

Overhaul the weather lifts! She is now coming up rapidly to the wind, and as soon as the sails shake, the wind being out of the lee clew of the mainsail-


The fore and main tacks and sheets are let go and the clews of the sails hauled up by the clew-garnets, high enough to clear the hammock rails; at the same time, Shorten in the main lee tack!and weather sheet. Haul taut the lee spanker boom topping-lift, and overhaul the weather one;* and as soon as the wind is directly ahead, or a little on the weather bow

Haul taut! MAINSAIL HAUL! Fig. 477, No. 2.

The lee braces and the bowlines are let go, and the yards swung around briskly by the weather braces; hauling aboard the main tack, and hauling aft the sheet. To hasten the operation, the order is sometimes given, Haul forward the lee main tack and main to’ bo’line! Brace the yards sharp up, trim them by the wind, and haul taut the weather braces and lifts; has now the sails on the foremast aback, which, with the jib, are paying her off rapidly.

Man the head braces!

Man also the fore tack, sheet and head bowlines; and as soon as the after sails take, or are full

Haul well taut! LET GO AND HAUL! To the man at the wheel, Right the helm! Brace around the head yards briskly; boarding the fore tack and hauling aft the sheet, as the yards are swung. And, as with the main, the order is frequently given, Haul forward the fore tack and head bo’lines! Brace up sharp, trim the yards. Fig. 477, No. 3.

Haul taut the lifts and weather braces! Steady out the bo’lines! The lower lifts and the braces are hauled taut, and the weather leeches of the sails hauled out by the bowlines. Keep her by the wind.

When you swing the after yards, the wind being ahead, shift over the jib sheet, when it will take the right way, and trim aft.

In vessels which are dull in stays and go off slowly after

* Not applicable to ships having but one topping-lift.

Plate 112, Fig 477-481. Tacking.


coming up head to wind, and particularly in a light breeze, it is advisable to keep the fore tack fast, to pay her off, when you rise the main tack; in which case the order will be, RISE MAIN TACK AND SHEET!When the mainsail is not set, to haul the after yards, order-


In determining the moment to swing the after yards, you must be governed by the strength of the wind, and the qualities of the vessel. The general rule, and a safe one, is to do so when the wind is directly ahead. But with a good working breeze, and the vessel coming up briskly, it is best to haul them when the wind is about one point on the bow, before coming head to wind; for then the wind on the weather leeches of the sails forces them around smartly, and affords you time to brace up, trim the yards, and get the main tack down, before it becomes necessary to swing the head yards.

When the after yards take, and while bracing around the head yards, vessels frequently are falling off so rapidly, that before they can gather headway, they bring the wind abeam, and sometimes abaft the beam. In which case, as soon as the head yards take

Avast bracing! FLOW THE HEAD SHEETS! putting the helm a-lee, if she has headway.

As she comes up to the wind, BRACE UP! GATHER AFT! Brace up sharp, trim aft the head sheets, and meet her with the helm.

Some vessels, particularly those that carry a weather helm, requiring very little after sail when close-hauled with a stiff breeze, will not fall off after the after-yards take, and frequently will fly up into the wind while you are bracing around the head-yards; in which case, be careful not to brace round the head-yards, until she is well around; and if she flies up into the wind, let go the main sheet, and, if necessary, brail up the spanker, and haul in the lee cross-jack braces.

Should you haul the head-yards too soon, the ship may come to again, in which case, if the above method fails, Rise fore tack, and sheet, clear away the head bo’lines! BRACE ABOX THE HEAD YARDS! and box her off again.

When the helm is put a-lee for stays, it should be kept so until she looses entirely her headway; then,Right the helm! and if she gathers sternboard, Shift the helm! Fig. 478, No. 2.

If you perceive that the vessel comes up to the wind slowly, and you have any doubt of her staying, haul down the jib, haul the spanker boom well over to windward, overhaul well the foresheet, and as you rise tacks and sheets, check the lee fore-topsail brace, observing to brace it up again as soon as it is aback, and to hoist the jib or haul aft


the sheet, as soon as it will take the right way. This will, in most cases, insure the evolution, though it tends to deaden the “head reach,” and should not be otherwise resorted to, except in working to windward in a narrow channel; when, having stood boldly on to either shore, particularly the weather one, you are fearful of head reaching too much in stays.


When close hauled. First, brace the lower yard up sharp, belay the lee brace, and haul taut the weather one; then trim the top-sail yard, if for a stiff breeze, with the weather yard arm about a half point abaft the lower yard, and the top-gallant trimmed by the topsail yard in the same way, and so on.*

In a light breeze with a smooth sea, when it is desirable to gain as much to windward as possible, the upper yards may be braced over the lower, and all got as nearly fore and aft as they will go, and always, except in very heavy weather, the sails should be taut up, and sheets close home or flat aft.

When the wind is abeam, if the yards be so, braced that the angles between them and the wind may be a point and three quarters greater than the angles formed by the yards and the line of the keel, that trim will produce the greatest headway.

The angle between the wind and yard should always be greater than between yard and keel, till the wind gets aft. when they are equal.

As the dog-vane is deceptive, the practical way to ascertain if the yards are laid well, is to luff the ship to by the compass a point, a point and a half, or two points, as the case may be, when if the yards are properly braced the sails will shake, thus giving the number of points free. The same may be ascertained by bracing to the mizzen topsail.

It is necessary that all sails should be trimmed to stand as flat as possible. The more a sail is made to approach to a flat surface, either by or before the wind, the better. (See SAILS.)

Fincham gives 19 ° as the angle the main yard should form with the keel, when close-hauled. This agrees with

* The upper yards should be braced in more than the lower, first, because the larger sail having greater curvature than the smaller must have its yard braced up to a sharper angle, that the plane of both may have the same angle with the keel; second, because the upper portion of the sail being attached to the yard approaches nearer to a plane than the lower part which bellies out, hence the upper part need not be so sharp, and thirdly, the lighter yards and braces require a greater angle for their support. Further, the upper yards being in, when the main royal is just lifting all the other sails are a “clean full and by,” which makes it a good sail to steer by.


the general practice; for many ships work within ten points.We find theorists saying that the wind in passing from the sails on the foremast becomes more fore and aft, when it strikes the mainsail, and that therefore the after yards should be braced sharper than those forward. But in practice it is much better to keep the fore yard sharper, so that in “luffing to,” a cloth or two of the main topsail will be lifting when the weather leach of the fore-topsail is just trembling. By this means a ship is more readily kept away again. Were the suggestions of theory adopted in this case the fore-topsail might catch aback, while shivering the main, and pay the ship off on the other tack.

Rules for bracing yards are at best but general guides to practice, and the ready skill of the seaman will have to be constantly relied on in the minor details of trimming yards and sheets, in order to get all the speed out of a ship. Probably the best school for this, as well as for many other points in practical seamanship, is in squadron sailing.


The evolution of tacking may be performed in a smart working vessel, and a light breeze, by swinging all the yards together. The crew must be properly divided at all the braces, weather head and main, and lee crossjack. Then let her come up head to wind, and fall off on the other tack, shifting the helm if she gathers sternboard, until she brings the wind about five points on the other bow. Then give the order, Haul well taut! HAUL OF ALL! swinging around all the yards briskly.Right the helm! Board the fore and main tacks, and haul aft the sheets. Trim the yards and haul the bowlines. This is not a necessary operation, and only done to try the activity or force of a crew, and the qualities of the vessel.


A vessel in tacking may come to a stand before the after-yards are swung.

Assume the ship. to be on the port tack dead in the water after the order “rise tacks and sheets,” to return to the same tack:

FLATTEN IN THE HEAD-SHEETS! by hauling them in amidships.

EASE OFF THE SPANKER SHEET! Should this be insufficient:

Port head braces! Clear away the head bowlines! BRACE ABOX THE HEAD YARDS! leaving the helm hard a-starboard for sternboard.


As she goes off with sternboard to starboard, DRAW JIB! and BRACE AROUND THE HEAD YARDS! As she comes to the wind again board the fore and main tacks, haul aft the sheets, steady out the bowlines, and as she gathers headway right the helm, and stand on till with enough way on. for another trial.In Irons. But it is more common for a vessel to come up properly, and then, when the after yards have been swung, to lie dead in the water, or “in irons” as it is termed.

You must now do one of two things: either box the ship off to the old tack or wear around on the new.

Suppose the vessel to have been on the port tack, her helm is a-starboard; her after-yards braced around by the port braces; her head-yards sharp up by the starboard braces:

Leave the helm a-starboard for sternboard, haul up the mainsail, brail up the spanker, Man the port head, starboard, main and port crossjack braces! Clear away the head bowlines! Haul taut!SQUARE AWAY THE AFTER-YARDS, BRACE ABOX THE HEAD YARDS! Then,

1st. To bring her back to the old (port) tack. Fig. 479.

As she falls off to starboard, brace up the after-yards by the starboard braces. When they take, man the starboard head braces, and let go and haul as in tacking. Set the mainsail and spanker when she has fallen off enough, right the helm and stand on for another trial. Fig. 479, No. 3.

2d. To bring her around on the new tack (by box hauling), Fig. 483. As she falls off to starboard man the port after-braces and keep the after-sails lifting; when she gathers headway shift the helm (No. 3), squaring the head-yards to give her headway, and allow her to come to the wind. When the wind gets on the starboard quarter, the after-yards being sharp up on the starboard tack, set the spanker and haul aboard the main tack; as she comes to meet her with the helm and head yards. (No. 4.) Fig. 483.

From the above it will be noticed that when a ship in irons has squared her main yard and braced abox she will be either restored to the old tack or box-hauled to the new tack according to the after-braces manned. The helm in both cases remains the same as her head must go in the same direction. To go back to the former tack man the former lee braces (in this instance the starboard after-braces), to box-haul to the new tack man the former weather braces (in this case port after-braces).*

* If you could be quick enough in squaring the after yards and the ship did not tend to fall off from the wind when in irons, squaring the after yards briskly and shifting the helm for sternboard might force her around on the new track as in Fig. 480, without having to lose as much ground as in Fig. 483. But the tendency to fall off to leeward is generally too pronounced to allow of this manoeuvre in steamers under sail.

Plate 113, Fig 482-485. Missing stays.



Call all hands about ship, watch for a smooth time and ease down the helm; haul down the jib, and aft the spanker sheet as she comes to. HELM’S A-LEE! Ease off the fore sheet, keeping fast the tack to assist her around against the sea. When the wind is out of the mainsail, RISE MAIN TACK AND SHEET! Let go and overhaul the weather lifts! When the wind is nearly ahead, Haul taut!MAINSAIL HAUL! brace sharp up the after yards; get the main tack down and the sheet aft, hauling the bowlines; shift over the jib sheet and hoist away the jib as soon as it will take, and bear over the spanker boom. When she gets sternboard, shift the helm; RISE FORE TACK AND SHEET! and when the after sails fill, Haul well taut! LET GO AND HAUL! Haul forward the fore tack and head-bowlines. Should she fall off rapidly, Avast bracing! As she comes to, meet her with the helm. BRACE UP! GATHER AFT! Trim the yards; haul well taut the weather-braces and lifts, and steady out the bowlines, clear up the decks and pipe down.

The head yards should not be braced in, that the ship’s headway may be preserved, that method answering only for a light breeze and smooth sea.


When near the land in a light breeze. Secure a single block of suitable size to the jib-boom end and reeve a small towline through it, bringing one end aft to the weather quarter, outside of everything, and bend it to the drag, which may be triced up to the weather main brace bumpkin. Have a hundred fathoms or so of the line ready for running out, and when all is prepared, Ease down the helm! Let go the drag! Luff around as in tacking, and having the towline well manned, when nearly head to wind, Haul taut! MAIN-SAIL HAUL! WALK AWAY WITH THE SPRING! The drag being now well on the weather quarter, the spring will easily carry the ship’s head past the direction of the wind. When the after sails fill, LET GO AND HAUL! Walk the drag up to the jib-boom end, get it in board and ready for use again.

For experiments on board the practice ships, halliard-racks, lined with canvas, have been found to answer. On a lee shore, in very deep water, a sea-anchor might be used in the same way, which would be less expensive than club-hauling, by letting go a bower. Or an old boat, with a hole stove in its bottom, might answer, in which case the hawser would have to be cut as soon as the ship got around.



In clawing off a lee shore, all the sail possible must be carried. If blowing hard in squalls, the ship must be luffed through them. If blowing very hard, the topsails should be furled, and whole or reefed courses kept on her as long as possible, as she will hold a better wind.


Fig. 481, Plate 112. In working off a lee shore, against a fresh breeze and head sea, when you cannot risk missing stays, and have not room to wear, you must then resort to this evolution.

Get the lee anchor off the bows, and ready for letting go; the cable ranged, bitted, and well stoppered; bend a hawser to the ring of the anchor, lead it in at the lee quarter, and secure it well; have hands stationed at the anchor ready for letting go; a carpenter, with an axe, ready to cut away the hawser, and the armorer ready to unshackle the chain.

Station the men for stays, and proceed as in tacking, until she will come up to the wind no further; and the moment she loses her headway, let go the anchor, and brace around the after yards. As the anchor fetches her up, she will swing head to wind, bringing the head sails aback. Man the head braces! Veer away the chain! the hawser from the lee quarter springing her around to the wind on the new tack. As soon as the after sails take, Cut away the hawser! LET GO AND HAUL! swinging around the head yards. Fig. 481 (3). Bring her by the wind and right the helm; trim the yards and haul the bowlines.

You have expended, by this evolution, an anchor, part of a cable, and hawser; but if resorted to with judgment, in an extreme case, you may have saved your vessel.

The advantage of letting go the lee anchor, in preference to the weather one, is, that when it fetches her up, it will bring the wind a little on the bow from which the cable leads, and in casting, as you unshackle, the cable will run out clear of the stem.

A ship may perhaps be placed in the same situation as to the land, with the wind moderate, and the swell sufficient to make it doubtful whether she will tack or not; in such a situation a kedge might be sufficient to insure the tacking of the ship.

Club-hauling Steamers. Club-hauling, on many occasions, might be made most useful to steamers, when required to turn in a narrow channel, or in blowing weather on a lee shore, where, owing to their great length,


they cannot otherwise be brought round. In such a case, when the steamer comes head to wind, her anchor might be saved, with care and attention, as she would then have her full propelling power in the right direction, namely, head to wind and right off from danger.To Work to Windward with another Ship in Tow. The towing hawser is secured to the bitts or mainmast and lashed amidships on the taffrail, having plenty of parcelling in the wake of all chafes. When ready for stays, direct the tow to put her helm up and veer under your lee; at the same time put your helm down, which being assisted by the towline of the lee quarter, will bring the ship’s head to the wind; as soon as you have gathered headway on the other tack, the towrope will, in time, bring the tow around; if her masts are standing, let her swing the yards at the proper time, and she will be directly in your wake.


Fig. 482, Plate 113. Wearing or veering is another method of going about from one tack to the other. This is only resorted to in a good working ship in heavy weather, with a sea on the weather bow; or under easy sail, in light airs; when, in either case, the vessel has not sufficient headway for tacking. It is exactly the reverse of tacking, for you run the vessel off from her course, or the wind, until she comes around again on the other tack, having performed a sweep of some twenty points; in doing which, she must lose considerably to leeward; therefore the loss should be made as little as possible.

To Wear Ship in a Light Breeze, under courses, topsails, topgallant sails, jib, and spanker, give the order-

Stations for wearing ship!

Station the men as in tacking.

Main clew-garnets and buntlines! Spanker brails! Weather main and lee crossjack braces!

The men being at their stations as directed, order, Haul taut! UP MAINSAIL AND SPANKER!Put the helm up! Clear away the bo’lines! and as she falls off, BRACE IN THE AFTER YARDS! Keep the mizzen-topsail lifting, and the main-topsail full, the former to present no opposition to her falling off briskly, and the latter to keep up her headway, without which wearing is, in a very light breeze, a tedious operation-Overhaul the weather lifts! Fig. 482 (2).

She falls off, bringing the wind abaft the beam, and you have braced in the main yard until it is square; continue bracing the crossjack yard to keep the sail lifting, until it is braced up sharp on the other tack.


She continues falling off, and you have now the wind directly aft. Man the weather head braces!RISE FORE TACK AND SHEET! Clear away the head bo’lines! LAY THE HEAD YARDS SQUARE! Shift over the head sheets! Fig. 482 (3).She has now the wind on the other quarter. Haul out the spanker, and brace up sharp the after yards. Man the main tack and sheet! and when manned, Clear away the rigging, HAUL ABOARD! Fig. 482 (4).

The after yards being braced sharp up, with the mainsail and spanker, bring her to the wind. The head yards being square, and the jib-sheet flowing, present no opposition to her coming to. As she comes up, brace up the head yards, Fig. 482 (5), keeping the sails full, board the fore tack, haul aft the sheet, and meet her, as she comes to, with the jib and helm. When by the wind, right the helm, trim the yards, Haul taut the lifts and weather braces! Steady out the bowlines!

To Wear Ship in a Fresh Breeze. The only difference in the evolution is, that you may, with a good breeze, having headway on that keeps her under the complete management of the helm, keep the main-topsail, as well as the mizzen, lifting as she goes off, which hastens the movement; andbracing the after yards sharp up on the other tack, before you touch the head yards. When before the wind, brace the head yards square, and brace them up as she comes to. As soon as the wind gets on the new weather quarter, haul out the spanker and board the main tack smartly, or the watch will be tardy in reaching the head braces to brace up, and will have a heavier haul in consequence.



Stations for wearing ship! Clap a stout lashing around the bunt of the foresail and yard, and have a hand in the slings in readiness to overhaul the rigging. Hook the weather storm staysail sheets, stretch along the fore tack-Man the main and mizzen staysail downhauls! and have hands by the halliards and sheets. Man the weather main, and lee crossjack braces!

In a gale, with a heavy sea, vessels lying to will come up and fall off four or five points. Watch for a smooth time, and when she is falling, off put the helm up-HAUL DOWN THE MIZZEN STAYSAIL! bracing in the after yards as she falls off, keeping the main-topsail full, and the crossjack yard pointed to the wind. Attend the lifts, as in wearing


under all sail. As the wind draws aft, ease off the main staysail sheet; and when of no further use in forcing her around, haul it down, shift over the sail, and gather aft the sheet.If the vessel in this situation will go off no further, as is sometimes the case, man the weather fore tack, overhaul the gear, ease down the clew-garnet, and haul aboard the weather clew of the foresail; which will increase her headway, and with her helm still a-weather, will serve to pay her off. A foresail in this state is “goose-winged.”

When before the wind, haul up the foresail, Right the helm! and square the yards fore and aft. Take in the slack of the fore staysail sheet. Man the main and mizzen staysail halliards and the main braces!

Watch for a smooth time, then ease down the helm, bracing up the after yards; HOIST THE MAIN AND MIZZEN STAYSAILS! and brace up the head yards as she comes to; haul taut the lifts, weather braces, and main top-bowline.

As soon as the staysails are hauled down, shift them over to the other side of the deck, and take in the slack of the sheets to be in readiness for hoisting.

To Wear under Bare Poles. Man the weather fore rigging, or place tarpaulins outside the weather fore shrouds, put the helm a-weather and work the yards as usual. Should there be any doubt of the ship wearing under the circumstances, take the precaution to send down the yards on the mizzen, also the mizzen topmast and topgallant masts; get a span on the mizzen mast, bend a hawser to it and securely belay the end inboard. Now, if she does not pay off, cut away the mizzen mast as a last resort, veer away the hawser and use it as a drag.


Fig. 483, Plate 113. This evolution may be performed in working out of a narrow passage; when, having approached the weather shore so near as to have no room for head-reaching, you are not willing to lose ground by the ordinary method of wearing.

Ready about! Station the men as for stays. Man the main clew-garnets and buntlines, and spanker brails! Put the helm down! Light up the head sheets and check the lee head braces! to deaden her headway. As the sails lift, RISE TACKS AND SHEETS! UP MAINSAIL AND SPANKER! Man the weather head, and main and lee crossjack braces.

She comes head to wind, and as soon as she loses her headway, Clear away all the bo’lines! Haul taut! SQUARE AWAY THE AFTER YARDS! BRACE ABOX THE HEAD YARDS! HAUL FLAT AFT THE HEAD SHEETS! Fig. 483 (2). The helm is right for sternboard, she is going rapidly astern, and at


the same time falling off, forming with her keel the segment of a circle, or “wearing short round on her heel.”As the after sails lift, brace them in to keep them lifting, until they are braced up sharp on the other tack; and brace square the head yards. As soon as the sails on the foremast give her headway, Shift the helm! Fig. 483 (3). The spanker boom having been shifted over on the other quarter, Spanker outhaul! Main tack and sheet! When the wind is aft, shift over the head sheets, and as soon as the spanker will take, Clear away the brails! HAUL OUT! Clear away the rigging! HAUL ABOARD! Board the main tack and haul aft the sheet.

The after yards, being braced sharp up with the spanker, head yards square, jib sheet flowing, and helm alee, she will come to the wind rapidly. Brace up the head yards as she comes to, and meet her with the helm and jib; trim the yards and haul the bowlines.

If to gain to windward in this evolution, use the helm and head sheets as in tacking; but if to avoid danger, jamb the helm hard down at once, flow the head and fore sheets and then proceed to back her around.


Some officers make a distinction between box-hauling and wearing short round, as follows:

In any sudden emergency, haul up the mainsail and spanker, man the braces as above, and, without going into the preliminary of luffing up into the wind, as in box-hauling, put the helm hard up, square the after yards, and brace abox the head yards. Fig. 484 (1). The moment she loses her headway, shift the helm for sternboard (2). After which, proceed as in box-hauling (3) and (4).

There is a decided difference in the commencement of the evolutions. Either of them may be termed box-hauling -a term derived from the circumstance of bracing the head yards abox-and both have the effect of wearing the vessel short round. By the former, you lose less ground than by the latter, for a vessel, with good headway on, will range ahead some distance after the sails are all thrown flat aback.


Beating up a river with a strong windward tide, fore-and-aft vessels may be luffed up into the wind with everything shaking, and then, as they begin to lose their way, permitted to fall off on the same tack, the tide in the meantime sweeping them up the stream very considerably. They may be thus enabled to weather a point of land, a vessel at


anchor, or other obstacle, when otherwise they would have been compelled to make a board or two to clear it.In a tideway the half-board is of great use, but it may also be practised by ships at sea, sometimes, with great advantage, Thus, READY ABOUT! Stations for stays! Put the helm down! Flow the head sheets! The ship now flies to (for it can only be practised in a good working breeze), with everything shaking; when she has shot up into the wind a good distance, and commences to lose her way-No higher! Flatten in forward! and let her go off to a good full and by again.

When a ship is box-hauled, she may be said to make two half-boards; first, when she is luffed upinto the wind, and again, when she is backed up into the wind stern foremost, by which she rather gains to windward.

To Back a Ship Around off a Lee Shore, Fig. 485, Plate 113. This evolution can be practised to very great advantage in moderate weather, and is particularly applicable when, beating in a river or channel, the ship misses stays and you have no room to wear. It may be remarked here, that this, as well as all other evolutions requiring the ship to be backed astern, should be adopted in moderate weather only, as there is danger, in a very fresh breeze and a rough sea, of injuring the pintles and gudgeons of the rudder, and straining the rudder-head. Having stood well over on one shore (position No. 2, Fig. 485), Ready about! Luff to, rise tacks and sheets, and when you judge proper, MAINSAIL HAUL! If she continues to go around, proceed as in tacking of course; but should she come to a stand-still, and refuse stays, BRAIL UP THE SPANKER! Man the head braces! and LET GO AND HAUL! as usual. You have now the wind about a point on the weather bow, everything hard aback and the helm a-lee (No. 3). With this arrangement of canvas she will soon gather sternboard and pay off rapidly at the same time, bringing the wind abeam, with everything aback, thus sailing astern. But the helm and the head sails cause her stern to luff into the wind, and the after leeches of the topsails will soon commence lifting.* The wind now gets aft, and the sternway, which has been decreasing, will cease, when the helm must be shifted. She now commences to forge ahead, the after leeches of the mainsail, main and mizzen topsails being full. As soon as it will take the right way, haul out the spanker and bring the ship by the wind on the new tack.

With a slow-working ship, or in a light breeze, you cannot back around stern to wind so easily, but, bringing the

* The sails, being hard aback, have the effect of heeling the ship and burying the lee quarter, thus causing her stern to luff more rapidly to the wind, than if the after yards were square, as in box-hauling.


wind on the quarter, a vessel will stand so and commence coming to the wrong way. This the judgment of the officer will anticipate and prevent by laying the head yards square (No. 4), which will give her headway; and the helm being shifted, will bring her around, assisted by the after leeches of the after sails and spanker, when it will take (No. 5). In light weather the mainsail may be left down. This is good exercise for the class in charge of the deck during the practice cruise.*


This evolution, though the most common in the whole practice of seamanship, nevertheless involves points of the nicest judgment and skill to effect its proper performance. In the first place, care must be taken that the ship be by the wind, not rap full; nor jambed up to such a pitch as to have no headway at all; but simply, so that all the sails may draw without trembling, and when the least touch of lee helm will cause them to shake. Again, do not put the helm down suddenly, but gradually, spoke by spoke, which gives the vessel all her velocity in coming to the wind, increasing her distance to windward, and keeping her under command after the after yards are swung. If, on the contrary, the vessel be suddenly brought to the wind by the helm being put down all at once, the ship will most certainly lose her way, and consequently have sternboard before the head yards are touched. This often leads to missing stays. And here arises another point, viz., the order, “helm’s a-lee,” should not be given until the jib lifts, for so long as the sail is full, it is manifestly of service to the ship in staying; and when it shakes it is of no use, and then the sheet may be let go. If, on the contrary, the sheet be eased off beforehand, the sail begins immediately to “flap,” and so it will continue until it fills on the other tack, or has altogether prevented the vessel from coming head to wind. The same may be said of the fore-sheet; and hence it is that officers often run the lee clew of the fore-sail well up at the order, “Rise main tack and sheet,” which should be given when the leeleech of the mainsail lifts. The fore tack, however, should not be eased until after “mainsail haul,” for otherwise the entire strain and pressure of the foresail (and that aback to), is thus brought upon the bowline.

With the spanker, the sheet must be hauled aft gradually, as the luff of the sail lifts, until the boom is amidships.

* When beating through the narrow entrance of Narraganset bay, on the night of. the 25th of September, 1863, in a fresh whole topsail breeze, the U. S. practice ship Macedonian missed stays twice, and was saved from going on the rocks by the performance of this evolution.


It is a common error to haul the sheet flat aft at once, thus making a back sail of it.If the mainsail be hauled before the wind comes ahead, the main yard will fly around of itself; but if it be not hauled until the wind comes ahead, or on the other bow, it will occasion a very heavy and tedious haul. Instead, therefore, of watching the lifting of the spanker or the movements of the dog-vane, observe, rather, when the weather leech of the main topsail is well aback, as the indication when to haul the after yards; and right the helm when the wind fills the leech on the other tack. The head yards are then hauled as soon after as possible, observing, first, however, to brace and trim all sharp up aft.

In doubtful cases the windward flap of the spanker will admonish you to haul the main yard; and the pennant at the main will more truly indicate the direction of the wind than the vanes.

In tacking under double-reefed topsails, the practice of bracing to the head yards, while the ship has headway, should never be resorted to, as tending to destroy not only the effect of the rudder, which is of most consequence, but to check the velocity altogether. Under these circumstances, as soon as the vessel comes up head to sea, and loses her way, put the helm amidships, and as she gathers sternboard shift it gradually.

In their zeal to shift over the head sheets, forecastle-men sometimes make a back-sail of the jibs, causing the ship to refuse stays.

When about to make a good haul of the yards, a few hands should run away with the slack of the brace, the greater number standing by to clap on as soon as the slack is through.

Should a lee top-gallant or royal brace jamb in stays, start the sheets at once.

When there is much sea on the bow, or when there is a swell with little wind, the ship will require coaxing. Take opportunities when she is inclining to come to, to haul the head sails down; ease the-,helm down, haul over the boom, and check the head bowlines and lee head braces. The main yard should not be hauled, nor head sails reset, nor fore tack started until the wind is decidedly on what was the lee bow. The later the haul of the main yard, the heavier will be the work; and as allowing it to bring up square for even a short time would probably cause the ship to miss stays, care should be taken to insure a good haul.

Should a squall strike the ship in stays, up mainsail and spanker, in royals and top-gallant sails, and slack the weather-head braces. If the squall is very heavy, get the vessel before the wind, and clew down; otherwise let go and haul.



In ordinary cases, let the weather braces be started in before putting the helm up, and keep the main topsail leeches lifting;* this will bring the ship around (provided she had good headway at the offset) in a very short space. Observe, however, to put the helm up gradually, and to a brace the after yards entirely round, by the time the ship gets before the wind, letting go the lee head braces when the wind gets well abaft, as the forward yards will thus fly nearly square, and save some little pulling and hauling. When the wind draws on the other beam, meet her with the helm, jib, and lee head braces as she comes to.

If a vessel will wear readily, in place of taking in, or. lowering a fore-and-aft mainsail altogether, it is better to drop the peak only.

In regard to keeping full the main topsail, while wearing, much depends upon the situation of the mainmast, which, owing to the position of the engine, may step unusually far aft, and the main topsail, by that means, become a luffing sail.

As boats may be made to steer by trimming, so a ship can be made to pay off by bringing the crew aft.


When performing any evolution in the line, if sail will insure it, do not hesitate to make a sufficiency, even if it. should be taken in immediately afterwards. Missing stays, or taking up much time and space in wearing, throws other ships into danger and disorder.

You may have been carrying enough sail to keep your station, but it does not follow that you have enough to carry you round when the signal for an evolution is made. If your leader is dull, but doing his best and in his station, of course you must not encroach on him; but you must be handy with your canvas, and sharp in freshening your way with it, just before your own turn comes to go about.

When about to leave the main yard square in stays, make a late haul, else the brace will go.

The rule for going about in succession in close order in the line is, to put the helm down when your next ahead is four points on the weather bow; in open order, five points.

In wearing, shiver your after-yards, when your leader is dead to leeward.

As ships when sailing in line are not at liberty to disturb

* An exception to this occurs in very light weather, when it is essential that. the vessel should have headway to help her go off.


the order of sailing, it should be borne in mind that those emergencies requiring a vessel to be hove to, veered or luffed around on the other tack, must be provided for in some other manner.This applies to steaming as well as sailing.


Having notified the ship of your intention, she will run a little free under easy sail; run along the weather side of the vessel, and when abreast of her, throw overboard a buoy with a light line attached. The ship to be towed grapples the buoy and hauls a hawser aboard.

The vessel to be towed may send her boats with a light line, to haul in the hawser.