14 Annotations

First Reading

Ding Kalis  •  Link

Sam seems to have produced an early spreadsheet, and without the help of Microsoft, no less...

Terry F  •  Link

"Sam's early spreadsheet" - Ding Kalis, you are surely spot on.
For this Encyclopedia entry, here is the part of the Nov. 12 1662 Diary entry to which you refer:
"From thence, without drinking a drop of wine, home to my office and there made an end, though late, of my collection of the prices of masts for these twelve years to this day, in order to the buying of some of Wood, and I bound it up in painted paper to lie by as a book for future use." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…

Terry F  •  Link

“masts of New England; …”
Courtesy of Michael Robinson on Mon 28 Nov 2005, 7:49 am | Link

For an older history of the Mast Road in New Hampshire and brief discussion of the the marking of suitable white pine trees as “King’s Wood” see below. A “spoiler alert,” however, this does include some discussion of the mast business in New England in the later C 17th. and C 18th.:


Terry F  •  Link

“masts of New England;"
Courtesy of Bob T on Mon 28 Nov 2005, 1:18 pm

There are a lot of places here in New Brunswick, (Eastern Canada), where there are large stands of tall, very straight trees. One of their characteristic is, they don’t have any branches, except at the top.... They are called “Navy Pines” locally.

Terry F on Wed 30 Nov 2005, 8:58 pm
Bob T, are “Navy Pines” Eastern white pines? These are large (>40 m) trees… which historically were prized for their use as ships’ masts. http://www.globalforestscience.or…

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Storage of and names of and how measured see Seamans Grammar:
....Mafts and yards are chained together in fome greater water to keep then from rotting ... The Seamans Grammar pg 2

The Main Mast : The Rule moft ufed is to take the 4/5 parts of the breadth of the Ship and multiply that by three [3] it will give you fo many foot as your Main-maft fhould be in length, the bigneft or thicknefs will Bear it alfo, allowing an inch a yard.
e.g. 30 ft beam requires a Mast of 72 ft [24 yds]

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

more on Maft and yards:
Main Mast [main-maft] may be made in more than one piece.[ an arme-maft if it must be fpliced ].
Fore-Maft length 4/5 of main Maft.
Boultspret maft [one lyeth over the bow , Beak-head]] muft be equal with the fore-Maft.
Mifen-Maft half of the length of the Main-Maft.
Now as you take the proportion of the Mast from the Beam , so do you the length of the yards from the Keel.
E.g. if Main be 24 yds , 24 inches thorow, allowing an inch for every yard....
Fore be 20 yds,20 inches thorow
Mifen 12yds and 12 inches diameter.

Yards fuppofe, the Ship be 76 foot at the Keel, her main yard muft be 21 yards in length, and in thicknest but 17 inches
Fore-yard 19 yards long, and 15 inches diameter or thick.
The fret-fail yard 16 yards long but 9 inches thick, and
your Mifen-fail yard so long as the Maft,
the Top -yards bears half proportion to the main, and
the Fore-yard, and the Top-Gallants, the half to them; the rule is not abfolute,....crofsjack-yard and Spret-fail Yard... Miffen-yard and Spret-fail.........but lengths, breadths, depths, rakes and burthens are fo variable and different,that nothing but experience can poffibly teach it.more more details Seamans Grammar P22/23/24

agpurser  •  Link

NOT an annotation: who played Sam, in the late 50s or early 60s version of the diary ,on black and white TV. dispute here! I say James Hayter, wife says Peter Sallis! settle please.posted here because no activity in discussion group

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sadly both Michael Robinson's and Bob T's links, included here by Terry F., are both dead.

Hopefully the New England Historical Society's article which mentions Pepys' December 3, 1666 gratitude for a shipment of masts will last: "... four New-England ships come home safe to Falmouth with masts for the King; which is a blessing mighty unexpected, and without which, if for nothing else, we must have failed the next year".

In part their article says (edited for clarity since we have global readership):

"During most of the 17th and 18th centuries, Falmouth, Maine (now known as Portland), and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, were the center of the mast trade. The immense stands of tall white pines in northern New England grew to a height of over 200 feet and were sometimes 10 feet in diameter. Some were a thousand years old. The British Admiralty was quick to grasp the potential of New England’s great white pines for ship construction."

Pepys says they arrived at Falmouth, Cornwall -- maybe the ships went from Falmouth to Falmouth? How confusing.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

An article, and photos, of the last remaining stands of old growth forest in Maine, from whense came the King Pines of the 1660's that Pepys needed for masts.


Apparently the Baltic pines were not big enough for the masts needed by the improved British ships, plus from time to time it wasn't possible to obtain masts from the Baltic. "The King" * therefore turned to New England, and had men mark the biggest of these trees, with a dimension of over 30 inches, with a big arrow cut into the bark, ignoring the fact that the Native population owned these forests. Later loggers went in and took the marked trees.

Trouble ensued, of course, not just with the Native Americans.

* It's not clear if it was Charles I or II who had the trees marked with the King's Arrow; it might even have been Cromwell from the dates given.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Masts from New England went not only to England, but also to the Caribbean along with wood to rebuild Bridgetown, Barbados, which burned to the ground in May 1668.


July 20. 1668
Charlestown, New England.
Fr. Willoughby, Daniel Gookin, Thomas Danforth, and Jno. Leverett to the Commissioners of his Majesty's Navy.

Inclose bill of lading of 24 great masts on board the Royal Exchange, Capt. John Pierce, which, with two great ones sent last year, are a present to his Majesty from the General Court of Massachusetts as a manifestation of their loyalty and good affection.

Four more masts which were provided were too big to be sent.
The Court has taken order for satisfying the freight, "although our incapacity is known."

Have a double request, the one, to represent these masts to his Majesty according to their worth, lest others should undervalue them;
the other, that they may be recorded in the office books, with their dimensions, as a present sent by the colony.
Invoice of the above 24 masts, ranging from 26 to 36 inches.
Indorsed, Rec. Sept. 21, 1668.
Together 2 pp.
[Col. Papers, Vol. XXIII., Nos. 17, 17 I.]

The King to (the Gov. and Council of Massachusetts).

Has received lately sundry assurances of their loyalty and affection in the present of masts for his Majesty's navy, as also in the supply so seasonably sent to his Majesty's ships at Barbados.

Is further assured by Lord Willoughby of their readiness to promote his Majesty's service.
Looks on all this as expressions of their loyal and sincere affection.

What they have now done has been exceeding acceptable.
Will always look on them as part of his care to provide for their peace and welfare in all things, and as the Plantation of New England was begun and carried on by the favour and protection of his Majesty's Predecessor, so he hopes it may flourish under his Majesty's Government, and he shall be ready at any time to receive any of their just desires and requests.

Indorsed by Williamson, New England.
1 p. [Col. Papers, Vol. XXIII., No. 18.]

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Rick Ansell, who seems to know about these things, posted in 2003:

The masts of large vessels of the time (and later) were in sections. Each one was parallel to the one below for a distance.
Generally, there were three sections, Lower, Top and Topgallent.
The Courses (Fore Course, Main Course and Mizzen) were attached to the lower masts.
The Topsails were attached to the Topmast and the Topgallent and Royal to the Topgallent mast.

When bad weather threatened the Topgallent mast would be struck (taken down) to reduce the unnecessary drag and preserve it from harm. It would be useless anyway, in high winds sail was reduced and the Topgallent and Royal were the weakest and most weakly supported sails.

When very severe weather threatened the Topmasts would be struck. Likewise, the Yards that supported the sails could be struck down on deck.

At anchor there was no need to use the sails so the masts and yards only served to give the wind something to push against, producing extra strain on the anchor which, if the force was enough, might drag (give way).

In amongst the dangerous banks of the Goodwins you definitely don't want a dragging anchor: once on a bank in high winds the ship could be beaten to pieces very rapidly.

And Alan Morel added
Re: ...lowering the masts...

If high winds are expected and the vessel is anchored, then the upper third portion of a mast (the topgallant) would be 'struck', or disconnected from the bottom two-thirds of the mast, then lowered to the deck to be lashed safely.

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