Steel's Elements of Mastmaking Sailmaking & Rigging

This copy is from the 1794 edition with an introduction by Claude D Gill ( Master Mariner) and published by W. & G. Foyle, Ltd., Charing Cross Road, London, W.C.2. 1932

With Fifty-nine Folding and other Plates drawn to scale, illustrating the Masts, Sails, Yards, etc., for every Class of Vessel from the Full-Rigged Ship to the Ship’s Boat, including the progressive method of Rigging Ships, and an illustrated Section describing the Foreign Rigs.

Condition of book : Blue canvas bound, darker on spine. Gilded title and top of pages. Slight browning on cover and back page and a little breakage between title and picture page (SCIENTIA NAVALIS VENTORIUM MARISQUE DOMINATRIX). Otherwise the book is in excellent shape.

When I began to remast and rerig my old schooner shown above left, this book became my mentor in every thing I did. Sizes and proportions of masts, topmasts and yards became embedded in my brain and I saw quarterly mastlength proportions of 60/61 to 14/15 to 6/7 everywhere. How these proportions to determine the thickness of a mast at various stations have been arrived at I do not know but I can tell you that there is no better way to shape a wooden mast. You would think that you‘re making a tapering pole when using these proportions as you saw, adze and plane your tree but you’re not. When finished correctly, the line from the heel to the cap of your mast shows a sweet, continuous curve that is calculated to take up the compression stresses that the mast must withstand when loaded with wind driven sails.

I was fortunate to have picked a good spot to harvest the trees I needed. I was moored in the river Aulne, Bretagne and it is a real wild part of France. The nearest building was a 14th century abbey hidden in the pine forest that covered the steep river banks. I’d been to see the Monsignor to ask permission to cut the trees I needed and when he learnt that I had been a fisherman he laughed and told me to help the monk Henri to provide more fish, “ Ce cher Henri, he is getting a bit old and he catches less than he used to. You help him and you can cut all the trees you want.”
I don’t hold much with religion but I blessed this old monk. I stayed in that wonderful place that no one in France seems to know the whole summer and autumn, the wife and kids came for a great holiday. ‘Steel’s Elements’ remained permanently on my chart table while the monks had their bible and were happy with the fish old Henri and I caught. A different, sweet adventure.

The sailmaking and rigging part of the book I used less as I was using different materials but the calculations helped me greatly for cloth weight and wire thicknesses.

Steel´s Elements of Mastmaking Sailmaking & Rigging
ZAR 25.000.00 [includes packaging and postage]

More rare nautical books for sale :
Sailing Ship Rigs & Rigging
Sail Training and Cadet Ships
The Merchant Schooners
Droit Maritime
Dixon Kemp’s Manual


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