RIGGING (A.S. wrigan or wrihan, to clothe), the general term, in connection with ships, for the whole apparatus of masts, yards, sails and cordage. (See also SHIP, YACHT and SEAMAN SHIP.) The word is also used as meaning the cordage only.
Sailing vessels of all classes are classed according to their "rig," i.e., the particular combination of spars, sails and cordage. "Cutter," "brig," or "ship," are really convenient abbreviations for "cutter-rigged," "brig-rigged," or "ship-rigged." The basis of all rigging is the mast whether it be composed of one or of many pieces of wood or of steel. The mast is supported against fore and aft or athwartship strains by fore and back stays and by shrouds, known as the "standing rigging," because they are made fast, and not hauled upon. In the case of a mast com posed of several parts, including topmast and topgallant mast, the stays, and other ropes which keep the top and topgallant masts in place, are however only comparative fixtures as they may be cast off when these masts are lowered down. The bowsprit, though it does not rise from the deck but projects from the bow, is in the nature of a mast. The masts and bowsprit support all the sails, whether they hang from yards, slung across the mast, or from gaffs, projecting from the mast, or, as in the case of the jibs, or other triangular sails, travelling on the ropes called "stays," which go from the mast to the bowsprit or deck. The bowsprit is sub divided like the masts. The bowsprit proper corresponds to the lower fore-, main- or mizzen-mast. The jib-boom, which is mov able and projects beyond the bowsprit, corresponds to a topmast; the flying jib-boom, which also is movable and projects beyond the jib-boom, answers to a topgallant mast. The ropes by which the yards, booms and sails are manipulated for trimming to the wind or for making or shortening sail, are known as the "running rigging." The rigging also provides the crew with the means of going aloft, and for laying out on the yards to let fall or to furl the sail. Therefore the shrouds (see below) are utilized to form ladders, the steps of which are called ratlines. Near the heads of the lower masts are the tops—platforms on which men can stand —and in the same place on the topmasts are the "cross-trees," of which the main function is to extend the topgallant shrouds.
The yards are provided with ropes, extending from the middle to the extremities or yard-arms, called foot-ropes, which hang down about 2 or 3 ft., and on which men can stand. The material of which the cordage is made differs greatly. Leather has been used but the prevailing materials have been hemp or grass rope, and, in recent days, chain and wire. As the whole of the rigging is divided into standing and running, so a rope forming part of the rigging is divided into the "standing part" and the "fall." The standing part is that which is made fast to the mast, deck or block. The fall is the loose end or part on which the crew haul. The block is the pulley through which the rope runs. A "tackle" (pronounced "taikel") is a combination of ropes and blocks which gives increased power at the lifting or moving end, as dis tinct from the end which is being "manned." If fig. 1 is followed from the bow to the mizzenmast, it will be seen that a succession of stays connect the masts with the hull of the ship or with one another. All pull together to resist pressure from in front. Pres sure from behind is met by the backstays, which connect the top masts and topgallant masts with the sides of the vessel. Lateral pressure is met by the shrouds and breast-backstays. A temporary or "preventer" backstay is used when great pressure is to be met. The bobstays hold down the bowsprit, which is liable to be lifted by the tug of the jibs and of the stays connecting it with the f ore-topmast. If the bowsprit is lifted the fore-topmast loses part of its support.
The running rigging by which all spars are hoisted or lowered and sails spread or taken in may be divided into those which lift and lower—the lifts, jeers, halliards (haulyards)—and those which hold down the lower corners of the sails—the tacks and sheets. A long technical treatise would be required to name the many parts of standing and running rigging and their uses. All that is attempted here is to give the main lines and general principles or divisions.