Terminology: spar vs. mast - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 05-02-2013 Thread Starter
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Terminology: spar vs. mast

Are the terms spar and mast interchangeable? If not, how so?

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post #2 of 20 Old 05-02-2013
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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

I think (and I could be wrong), all masts are spars, but not all spars are masts. The boom is also a spar, and if you have a self tacking jib, that also has a spar. Again, could be wrong, but that is my understanding...
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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

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Are the terms spar and mast interchangeable? If not, how so?
All masts are spars but not all spars are masts. Some spars are booms, some are yards, some are struts, etc.

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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

The term 'spar' is a generic term which refers to any pole that is part of a rig (even when they are high tech carbon or alum. poles). A mast is a type of spar. Other spars are booms, bowsprits, boomkins, spinnaker poles, clubs, reaching struts, yards and I am sure a bunch more that do not to mind.

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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

A pole is a spar when not actually mounted on a ship. Once mounted it becomes a mast, or a boom, gaff, or some other part of rigging. Word originated from 'spare' parts (spars) carried on the ships in the past.

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post #6 of 20 Old 05-02-2013
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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

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A pole is a spar when not actually mounted on a ship. Once mounted it becomes a mast, or a boom, gaff, or some other part of rigging. Word originated from 'spare' parts (spars) carried on the ships in the past.
Not true. From Online Etymology Dictionary:

spar (n.1) "stout pole," c.1300, "rafter," from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch sparre, from Proto-Germanic *sparron (cf. Old English *spere "spear, lance," Old Norse sperra "rafter, beam"), from PIE root *sper- "spear, pole" (see spear). Nautical use dates from 1640. Also borrowed in Old French as esparre, which may have been the direct source of the English word.

From Nautical Dictionary:

spar (n) - The general term for any of the abovedeck timbers to which sails are bent, such as the masts, booms, gaffs yards and sprits.

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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

I stand corrected. Apparently not all the stories you hear from old timers are true.

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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

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... Apparently not all the stories you hear from old timers are true.


No?!?!?

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post #9 of 20 Old 05-03-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

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I stand corrected. Apparently not all the stories you hear from old timers are true.
If old timers learned the term that way from even older timers, then that is what the term means. At some point the dictionaries will catch up. Makes sense to me. The guys in my yard work on the spar while is is on saw horses, and the mast when it is on the boat. Although I think they assume I know they are talking about the mast, and not the boom.

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Re: Terminology: spar vs. mast

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The guys in my yard work on the spar while is is on saw horses, and the mast when it is on the boat.
Yes, that has been my experience as well. Language changes with time and words often take on new meaning. Sometimes it is fun reading old books you get for next to nothing at yard sales just to see what the language used to be 100 or 150 years ago. I love reading that stuff, especially when on my boat at night.
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