LAUNCHES AND PINNACES MAN OF WAR BOATS In considering a few of the different classes and rigs of boats, I propose to commence with man-of-war boats, and then to notice one or two of the rigs to be met with in other countries, some of which are very interesting, and instruc tive, as being peculiarly adapted to the different harbours and seas in which they are used.
Launches and Pinnaces in the Navy are built on the diagonal plan, as it is called, with two thicknesses of plank running opposite ways, it is. very strong but rather heavy, they are sometimes coppered, but generally they are left without any sheathing ; it is a good plan to have them coppered for harbour ships, where they are often left in the water for several months together ; but for sea going ships they are better unsheathed, as they are much lighter.
The old fashioned rig for launches and pinnaces, was, two standing lugs and a staysail,. and a jib on abowsprit, the foresail was a good deal larger than the mainsail, which in fact was little more than a large mizen stepped at the after thwart; this was not a bad rig for a pinnace, and I have seen some boats sail well under it, but for the larger launches the foremast was rather a heavy spar, so it gradually became the custom to make the foresail and mainsail about the same size and the masts the same height, and this was found to be more convenient for getting them up and down quickly ; but this rig was peculiarly liable to an objection to which all rigs are more or less liable, and that was the great facility with which the sails could be badly set, in fact it was very rare to see them otherwise than badly set ; this arose in a great measure from the difficulty of staying the masts properly : the headsails dragged the foremast over the bows and the mainmast having no permanent stay, was always about equally over the stern ; so that the boat looked like a stand for two astronomical telescopes, one of which was pointed at the Great Bear, and the other at the Southern Cross.
The result being that the mainsail was always baggy, and shaking, and the foresail was pulled out of its proper shape and did not set properly.
The cure for this, as far as the foresail is concerned, is to see the fore runners hauled " hand taut" before the head sails are hoisted, remem bering also that the head sails -in this rig take the place of a forestay, so that it would con sequently be unwise to lower both head sails suddenly, if the fore sheet were flat aft, in any thin... of a breeze, as the jerk would most likely send the foremast over the stern. The complaint of the mainmast is more difficult to cure; the stays being shifting stays, in order that the lee one may be let go to clear the foresail ; it is found in practice that the mainmast is never properly stayed, and the result is that the mainsail is never properly set, but always more or less in a bag and shaking ; the only effectual cure for this, is to have a wire stay at a short peak, or in other words at a small angle with the mast, and secure it to a bolt clinched through the keel of the boat; the stay and bolt must both be strong, as from being at a "short peak" there is of course more strain than usual on them ; it is necessary to have the stay at a short peak, for if it was carried too far forward, it would hamper the foresail in tacking.
The foregoing rig is being gradually dis placed in the navy by the so called " de Horsey rig," which is I think on the whole a better rig ; it is nothing more than an ordinary gaff sail without a boom, and a foresail on a stay without a bowsprit, but the credit is no doubt due to Admiral de Horsey for having found out the best dimensions for these sails, and for bringing them into use in man-of-war boats ; the foresail is often erroniously called a jib by some officers who ought to know better. The only objection to the de Horsey rig is, that it ta,es a little longer to get up or down, than the old rig, but this is more than counter-balanced by its increased efficiency when it is up.
The square headed gaff-topsails as supplied from the dockyards cannot be made to stand on a wind, but a sail cut with more peak to it as shown in the sketch can be made to set well on all points of sailing, and is useful in light winds. One great advantage in this rig is that all the sails and gear are inside the boat, and no booms or bowsprit sticking out to get knocked away, so that it is a capital rig in which to practice the gentle game of "ramtno," as the youngsters will not be able to break up their own sticks, what ever they may do with other people's, and unless they go too hard at it, a brush of paint will gener ally put everything to rights, but it is a loftier rig than the old rig, and most boats require a little more ballast to carry it properly, a few water casks are sufficient for all ordinary weather, and one or two extra for strong breezes, it is in fact a capital " bad weather rig," it can be worked with a few hands, and the sails are easily reefed, as they are all inside the boat. When reefing, the boat should be kept sailing as near to the wind as possible, and " weigh " kept on her, as if she is allowed to fall off and get the wind abeam the sail will probably be dragged out of the men's bands, and they will be unable to reef it ; it will rarely be necessary to reef when going before the wind, but when it is necessary the best way is to lower the sail down altogether, reef it, and re-set it I have seen a spurious imitation of this rig, with a boom on the mainsail, and heard it called " de Horsey rig," but I think that Admiral de Horsey would repudiate it, as I am sure he is too.
good a seaman to put a long boom into an open. boat.