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Cape Cod Bounce the Bow-Line

We may think that navigation today is much more complicated than it was in the days of the Pilgrims and of the clipper ships and blunt-bowed whalers, but listen to this from James Atkinson’s Epitome of the Whole Art of Navigation, published in London in 1790:

Q. Suppose it blows hard, and you cannot carry your courses (large lower sails), night coming on, and it is likely to blow harder. What would you do?

A. I would haul the fore-sail up and furl it, balance the mizzen and reef the main-sail, haul up the main-clue-garnet and bunt line, square the yard, and get stops round the mast by the booms to hook the yard tackles to for rolling tackles; then lower the yard and reef the sail; haul on board the tack, get aft the sheet handsomely, and sway the yard up. Tend the braces, bounce the bow-line, and haul up the mizzen.

Seems as though we have it better, when, on a night like that, the captain merely signals by bell or radio to the engine room.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 06/07/06
Categories: BoatingHistory
Keywords: boating, history, maritime


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