Historical Ship Design - Mast Atop Jib Boom

Watching the TV series “Crossbones.” (Enjoyed it!) The big British warship, two (three?) decks of guns, three masts, big ship. And way out on the end of the jib boom, there’s a vertical mast, with its own top platform, shrouds, ratlines, everything.

I can’t find a pic of it, but here is the general idea: a tiny little kiddy mast, way out front.

Was this ever actually done? By any nation’s shipbuilders? My instincts are that it’s a load of (rather ornamental) tripe.

This… answered your own question.
The square rigger had the sprint pole sticking forward at up to 45…
never anything like vertical.
The sprit pole being bent up is merely artistic - perhaps only appearing on recreations to make it look like a full sprit but not stick so far out.

OR maybe they could pull them up to vertical for pulling into a dock/mooring - no functional sail attached at the time.

Well, what I meant was that I couldn’t find a screen shot from the TV show, so I had to resort to a pic of something else that was similar.

I’m a “tall ships” fan (San Diego’s Tall Ships Festival is coming up soon!) and this is a feature I’ve never seen in any modern tall ship. But I wondered if it might have been an ancient, or medieval, or renaissance feature.

It’s pretty as anything, but is it real?

Here’s a picture of what I saw on TV!

Could be something a war ship might do.
A lot of big ships also had sails that were added to the sides of the regular sails for added light air power. They had ‘moon’ sails, they could & did stick stuff up everywhichaway to be able to keep moving.

Good picture about in the middle of this link of a square rigged clipper.


That little mast way fwd is more during the galleon era IIRC.

You can see one in the drawing of the second picture here.


It was called the “spritsail topmast” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprit_topmast
Apparently the purpose of having the extra sail right in front was to give more leverage when tacking.
It was replaced by larger jibs in the early 1700s, which is why you don’t see it on “modern” tall ships.
Historical for the pirate era, though.

This illustration seems to contradict O’Brien (usually an authority on these matters), who says that the only time all the sails would be unfurled would be to dry them out in a calm. There is no point in a sail that is shielded from the wind by another, and additionally, too much sail would press the ship down and actually slow it.

My favorite sail, the studding sail. Whenever the studding sails are unfurled in an O’brien novel, you know there is going to be a hot action!

But hot action - mostly in slow motion. He also liked, well - Jack did, I forget the name, extra bracing for the main mast so it could take more sail in a stiff wind.

And don’t forget cross-catharpings - Jack Aubrey was quite fond of those.

Or Jack will be throwing the water and cannons overboard. :slight_smile:

<nitpick> cannon <nitpick>

Way cool! Thank you! I had only seen it, before the TV show, at Disneyland, and so had been suspicious of it.

(Of course, a guy on Carribbean station would probably not have been sent a 100-gun 1st rater… And the design is a bit advanced for the time period. But it was that spritsail topmast that knocked off my suspension of disbelief.)

Gotta say, I’m more used to hearing them called “guns” in wooden-navy fiction anyway.

If the chasers are long nines and the broadside 20, is it not like “fish” and “fishes” for all love? Let us not be too pedantic, Sir.

The oktett link you posted is very informative! Thanks!