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Discussion Starter #1
Here is an interesting conundrum I have and not been able to find an answer to...maybe somebody has an idea.
Early sailing Whalers stowed their anchor chains either side of the main mast amidships. Anchor chain came from the hawse pipe twice around the windlass drum (it was reinforced with cast strips to fit either side of the links) and led aft to the midship locker below in the hold. To heave up a hand cranked windlass turned the windlass drum and the chain was payed below midships. The question is how did they let go. The cable is around the drum and even if flaked from the locker the Try Works would be destroyed letting it run free. Was it slowly lowered with the sails backed till it hit bottom? any ideas?
 

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At a guess, there must surely have been some means to flake out the cable on deck, with some kind of primitive brake?

And for turns to be taken around the drum end (ready for heaving up) only after the vessel was brought-up to her anchor?

This is pure guess-work, but there must surely have been some means of creating a free run of cable when letting go?
 

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I suspect there must have a brake of some kind, lift the pawl, not let it go 'free' but controlled and paid out slowly, just in the reverse. Long tedious process for sure. The cable was not large so men would have been able to manhandle.

For the best answer, call the Charles W Morgan Museum in Mystic, they would be tell you in a second.

Stephen
 

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Provided that the cable is not too large, the Mate's boot could act as a brake, but I'd guess that it would be too large for that to be practicable.

Elf and safety? Forget it!
 

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And for turns to be taken around the drum end (ready for heaving up) only after the vessel was brought-up to her anchor?

?

Could have been the cable round the 'drum', having been used to put it down. Otherwise all of the cable would have had to taken if off if all of it was going out. When anchor, keep the turns on the drum, just make it well stoppered. The 'drum' would be in a cradle at both ends of the 'drum'. It would have been too heavy. Hence the reason for cable remaining on the drum. A bit like modern ships.

Stephen
 

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If the drum were in a cradle at each end, then it would surely be called a barrel rather than a drum end?

And my own theory could not work, as it would be impracticable to get the cable off the barrel. The cable would be effectively encased on the barrel by the two parts of the cradle
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I knew I would get some help. Stephen, I am a Docent at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and actually went yesterday to Mystic to see if I could find the answer. The first person I spoke to was not aware that the chain locker on the Morgan was amidships. Others were aware but were no real help.
The brake on a whale vessel winch is a paul and no chain stopper is fitted on the Morgan nor our half size Lagoda.
All I can think happened is that they stopped, lowered the hook and chain slowly from the barrel and when up and down let the wind take then astern.
There is no direct line from the midship chain locker pipe to the windless as it has to wind its way round the brick try works. I appreciate all your help as always.
 

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Of course the correct term is 'windlass'. :)

Found the answer. For letting go the cable would be ranged on deck and laid down as 'French flake' or sometimes from the chain locker. The cable was run over a single bitt.

This is covered in Harland's in Age of Seamanship. There was usually a capstan (even back 17th century) or possible 'pump handle windlass'. Cable went straight down to the locker as it would be self stowing. (Not sure why cable would be stowed on deck?)

Anyhow, several pages on the subject in Harland's.

Stephen
 

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On a sailing barge chain was flaked out. Three turns round the windlass barrel which was wood sheathed a few links flaked on top of the barrel. When ready to let go a bucket of water was thrown over the barrel and then the flaked chain on the barrel given flick and away it goes. When underway the shackle on the anchor was up to the hawse pipe and then the aft fluke was catted with a light chain and hauled up.
 

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Michael Taylor;2843338 All I can think happened is that they stopped said:
French flaked will give you the answer and let run. If you wanted to slow you might nip the bights to slow a bit. The description in Harland's seem to indicate that it was a loose snake about the deck!

Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter #11
On a sailing barge chain was flaked out. Three turns round the windlass barrel which was wood sheathed a few links flaked on top of the barrel. When ready to let go a bucket of water was thrown over the barrel and then the flaked chain on the barrel given flick and away it goes. When underway the shackle on the anchor was up to the hawse pipe and then the aft fluke was catted with a light chain and hauled up.
Bill, I think you have got the answer. I have found an early Marine Research photo of the Morgan windless which seems to show a couple a couple of turns and a flaked amount of chain on top. Lowering from the cat head would allow the flukes to be at water level and a wood pin on the head removed allowing anchor to drop.
Thanks all I shall give you credit when I explain to Mystic how it was done.
 
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