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Hi everyone, I am an author writing a historical mystery and I am hoping you can all help me with a question. Although I've looked and looked, I have not been able to find out what the raised part of a deck is called (the top of the cabin). Here is the yacht I'm using as reference:
Gaff Rigged 41ft Cutter 1890 William Ferris William Ferris. Yachts sold by classic yacht broker..

One blog I came across seemed to indicate that it was the 'camber' but I've not been able to verify that.

Also, (1) would the ladder steps be referred to as the companionway? (2) As I understand it, the top of the surrounding railing is called the rail and the solid part the bulwark? Or is that only on larger ships? (3) And if two people were sitting on deck chatting while the boat is moored, where would be the likeliest place they'd sit (I'm assuming on the cabin top?)

Any help would be appreciated.

-Sabrina Flynn
 

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Hi everyone, I am an author writing a historical mystery and I am hoping you can all help me with a question. Although I've looked and looked, I have not been able to find out what the raised part of a deck is called (the top of the cabin). Here is the yacht I'm using as reference:
Gaff Rigged 41ft Cutter 1890 William Ferris William Ferris. Yachts sold by classic yacht broker..
I don't know the setting in your historical mystery, but I guess you have read the history of the boat.
She was converted to a "Cruiser" in 1913 and is a British built boat.
Boats from others parts of the world would have looked different.

One blog I came across seemed to indicate that it was the 'camber' but I've not been able to verify that.
Cabin top seems to be the correct term

Also, (1) would the ladder steps be referred to as the companionway?
companionway Ladder.

(2) As I understand it, the top of the surrounding railing is called the rail and the solid part the bulwark?
Correct.

(3) And if two people were sitting on deck chatting while the boat is moored, where would be the likeliest place they'd sit (I'm assuming on the cabin top?)
In the Cockpit or maybe at the cabin top or maybe they carried small foldable chairs.
I would guess that it would depend of the weather / wind.

around 1900 and well into that century yachts like "LITTLE WINDFLOWER" often had payed hand(s) (aka crew).
They slept in the bunks forward and where not supposed to mingle with the owner and the guests.
The crew would often stay at the bow out of way for the owner/guests.
 

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I can't get the picture of the yacht in question to open.

It sounds like you are referring to the coachroof, which is the raised part of the deck that allow for a higher headroom inside the cabin.

Yes, the steps from the cockpit into the cabin is the companionway.

The raised area around the cockpit may be referred to as the coaming, although, most use the term to refer to an accent piece on top of what is the coaming.

People ordinarily sit on deck in the cockpit. Although, in some new boats this has been enlarged, as on ours, and the term 'deck salon' has been coined.

I hope I got the questions correct, I couldn't see the pic.
 
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Hi everyone, I am an author writing a historical mystery and I am hoping you can all help me with a question. Although I've looked and looked, I have not been able to find out what the raised part of a deck is called (the top of the cabin). Here is the yacht I'm using as reference:
Gaff Rigged 41ft Cutter 1890 William Ferris William Ferris. Yachts sold by classic yacht broker..

One blog I came across seemed to indicate that it was the 'camber' but I've not been able to verify that.

Also, (1) would the ladder steps be referred to as the companionway? (2) As I understand it, the top of the surrounding railing is called the rail and the solid part the bulwark? Or is that only on larger ships? (3) And if two people were sitting on deck chatting while the boat is moored, where would be the likeliest place they'd sit (I'm assuming on the cabin top?)

Any help would be appreciated.

-Sabrina Flynn
The cabin-top is properly referred to as the "coach roof". Folks might sit on the coach-roof but, considering it's exposure, not too often. The rail around the stern of a ship is know as the "taffrail", sometime elaborately carved. The rail around the remainder of the ship atop the bulwarks is properly a "cap-rail". The entry to a yacht accommodation from the deck is a "companionway". There are no stairs on a yacht but if there are steps to the sole within the accommodation from the companionway, they are referred to as the/a "companionway ladder" (there may be more than one). People might sit together anywhere on deck but are most often found in the cockpit where they likely have some sun protection and can lean back against the "combings" that commonly extend aft from the sides of the coach-house on either side of the cockpit and are intended to deflect seas that make it on deck away from the cockpit crew.

FWIW...
 

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The coach roof is more properly termed the "trunk" or "cabin trunk".

"Companioway steps/ladder" are commonly shortened to "companionway"

Suggest you check out the "Surveyors Lexicon"

or buy

The Sailors Word Book, Admiral W.H. Smyth, ISBN 1-897030-05-3

PS. Don't ever refer to a "salon", that will nail you in a heartbeat. the proper term is "saloon".
 
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Discussion Starter #10
I don't know the setting in your historical mystery, but I guess you have read the history of the boat.
She was converted to a "Cruiser" in 1913 and is a British built boat.
Boats from others parts of the world would have looked different.

around 1900 and well into that century yachts like "LITTLE WINDFLOWER" often had payed hand(s) (aka crew).
They slept in the bunks forward and where not supposed to mingle with the owner and the guests.
The crew would often stay at the bow out of way for the owner/guests.
Thanks for your reply! The mystery is set in 1900 San Francisco. And the yacht in question is supposed to have been built by a local family of Portuguese boat builders in Sausalito as a sea going vessel. I'm mostly using the Little Windflower as a reference. Would a boat like this be described as a cruiser instead of a cutter then? And do you happen to know if these types of yachts had some kind of engine installed as early as 1890s? I know they had steam powered launches and such at the time period, but not sure in a boat like this.

And thanks for reminding me about my crew question. Would it be possible to single-hand a boat like this for a short trip? From the other forums and research I read, it seemed like it would be possible by an experienced sailor. And I read up on Joshua Slocum sailing the Spray around the world single-handed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The coach roof is more properly termed the "trunk" or "cabin trunk".

"Companioway steps/ladder" are commonly shortened to "companionway"

Suggest you check out the "Surveyors Lexicon"

or buy

The Sailors Word Book, Admiral W.H. Smyth, ISBN 1-897030-05-3

PS. Don't ever refer to a "salon", that will nail you in a heartbeat. the proper term is "saloon".
Thanks everyone! You've cleared up my confusion. :)
 

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.Would a boat like this be described as a cruiser instead of a cutter then? And do you happen to know if these types of yachts had some kind of engine installed as early as 1890s? I know they had steam powered launches and such at the time period, but not sure in a boat like this.

And thanks for reminding me about my crew question. Would it be possible to single-hand a boat like this for a short trip? From the other forums and research I read, it seemed like it would be possible by an experienced sailor. And I read up on Joshua Slocum sailing the Spray around the world single-handed.
Cutter refers to the type of rig; the term "cruiser" (at least in this context) refers to the use made of the boat. Cutters are single-masted sailboats with the mast being located fairly far aft (please, don't get this group started on the formal definition of "cutter" vs. "sloop"; you'll thank me later for the warning). Cruisers spend multiple days aboard their boats going from place to place for pleasure. So you can cruise a cutter. Your boat is a cutter.

I suppose its theoretically possible that a sailboat could have an engine in the 1890's; both the diesel and gas engines had been invented by then. But they were both still in their infancy (especially for marine applications) and I would think that it would be quite extraordinary to actually see one on a sailboat back then. One would have to be quite wealthy and willing to be very experimental to have a gas engine on a sailboat in the 1890s. In fact, the entire sport of yachting back then was almost the exclusive provence of the very wealthy. No one else could afford to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of a wooden boat. And I've never heard of or seen a steam auxilliary on a yacht. Maybe they did exist, but I think they would have been quite rare. There's just not enough room in a sailing yacht hull to store enough coal to make it worthwhile.

Could that boat be singlehanded? Nowadays, most 41 footers can be set up to be singlehanded easily. It doesn't look like that boat would be very easy to singlehand, especially if you consider that in 1900, the sails would be heavy cotton, with hemp line running through wood blocks. Lots of weight and friction to overcome. I'm thinking you would need at least two or three men just to raise the main (unless you had power winches to help, something I think we can agree is a remote possibility at best).

But hey, you're a writer! If it fits your story, then do it. Don't worry about placating this bunch here; you couldn't if you tried;)
 

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Cutter refers to the type of rig; the term "cruiser" (at least in this context) refers to the use made of the boat. Cutters are single-masted sailboats with the mast being located fairly far aft (please, don't get this group started on the formal definition of "cutter" vs. "sloop"; you'll thank me later for the warning). Cruisers spend multiple days aboard their boats going from place to place for pleasure. So you can cruise a cutter. Your boat is a cutter.

Could that boat be singlehanded? Nowadays, most 41 footers can be set up to be singlehanded easily. It doesn't look like that boat would be very easy to singlehand, especially if you consider that in 1900, the sails would be heavy cotton, with hemp line running through wood blocks. Lots of weight and friction to overcome. I'm thinking you would need at least two or three men just to raise the main (unless you had power winches to help, something I think we can agree is a remote possibility at best).

But hey, you're a writer! If it fits your story, then do it. Don't worry about placating this bunch here; you couldn't if you tried;)
Thanks for the clarification and warning. I WAS actually going to ask about the difference between a sloop and cutter, but I'll just slink away before the debate starts. :) Nice to know that there is a some debate. After reading various articles and blogs, some of them left me scratching my head over conflicting information.

If someone were single-handling a 41 cutter (with no engine) from one wharf to another along the same port, would they probably not bother with the mainsail and just use the Jib (I think it's called)? Would that be more manageable?
 

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Thanks for the clarification and warning. I WAS actually going to ask about the difference between a sloop and cutter, but I'll just slink away before the debate starts. :) Nice to know that there is a some debate. After reading various articles and blogs, some of them left me scratching my head over conflicting information.

If someone were single-handling a 41 cutter (with no engine) from one wharf to another along the same port, would they probably not bother with the mainsail and just use the Jib (I think it's called)? Would that be more manageable?
This one definition is actually quite simple, a cutter has two forestays.
A sloop has one. I'll be surprised if anyone disagrees with this .... but sailors can be crochety :)
 
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This one definition is actually quite simple, a cutter has two forestays.
A sloop has one. I'll be surprised if anyone disagrees with this .... but sailors can be crochety :)
Boatpoker, I think that is the modern, popular definition, but I know a few old-timers who insist that the number of headstays or foresails is only incidental; in their minds, a sloop can have two headstays/foresails as well. It is the placement of the mast that separates the cutter from the sloop. I can't remember the formula, but a cutter has the mast set further aft than a sloop does. I believe that under this older definition, boats such as the Island Packets which most of us would consider cutter rigs (because they can fly two foresails) are actually sloops.

Sabiny, you asked would a sailor use just the jib if moving from one wharf to another in the same port; the inference is that it might be easier to do so if singlehanding. I think the answer is "maybe"; it would depend on the winds and current. Sailing with just the headsail is problematic; it makes steering difficult because the rig is unbalanced. The jib is creating forward drive, but is also pushing the boat away from the wind, requiring a lot of effort to steer the boat. Imagine trying to swim forward if someone were pushing sideways on the end your outstretched arm. Steering on one of these boats requires a great deal of physical effort; the tiller or wheel is always trying to push you one way or the other. And trying to sail with just the jib is particularly difficult. You have a big sail with a great deal of leverage (remember, its at the very end of the bowsprit on the maximum lever arm) fighting you. The drive from the main sail is what balances out the force from the jib. Boats with properly designed and sailed rigs are balanced; the amount of effort that it takes to steer is minimal. Sailing with just one sail (any one sail) unbalances the boat.

All that being said, sometimes it makes sense to have just one sail up. It depends on the boat and the conditions. If you want to avoid having your sailor raise the main and use just one sail, I think he would use the fore staysail, not the jib. The jib is the triangular sail furthest out from the main. The fore staysail (sometimes called the inner jib) flys closer to the mast than the jib, and is therefore more suitable for what you envision. Certainly easier to hoist than the main sail on a gaff-rigged boat such as the one you have been describing. But if you are going for authenticity, make sure that the wind is blowing your boat off the first wharf and onto the second. Otherwise, the single-handed scenario is implausable. If you want your sailor to appear expert, I suggest you check out some of the sailing guides that give tips on how to leave docks under sail. You can do some nifty stuff with spring lines, fenders and a clever use of sail and the rudder.
 

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Sabiny101, are you a local SF writer? If so, and you still in the writing/research stage at Memorial Day, might I suggest you go over to Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda on that Saturday afternoon when the Master Mariner yachts tie up after their regatta. Whereas the Alma is the only boat from the 1880-90s that still actively races, there are plenty of examples of yachts from the turn of the century and the skippers and crews are quite sociable and would be happy to answer questions and show you around their boats. Purely pleasure boats of that vintage tend to be much smaller than 40 foot. A 40 footer would tend to be a schooner or ketch. You could possibly “Jib ‘n Jigger” a big ketch single handed and would be more than enough sail to get from Sausalito to San Francisco (or anywhere in the Bay for that matter).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
This one definition is actually quite simple, a cutter has two forestays.
A sloop has one. I'll be surprised if anyone disagrees with this .... but sailors can be crochety :)
Well, you've all been a huge help, and very kind considering I know nothing about sailing. Though, I'm more fish than sailor, or dirt person. ;)
 

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Sabiny, you asked would a sailor use just the jib if moving from one wharf to another in the same port; the inference is that it might be easier to do so if singlehanding. I think the answer is "maybe"; it would depend on the winds and current. Sailing with just the headsail is problematic; it makes steering difficult because the rig is unbalanced. The jib is creating forward drive, but is also pushing the boat away from the wind, requiring a lot of effort to steer the boat. Imagine trying to swim forward if someone were pushing sideways on the end your outstretched arm. Steering on one of these boats requires a great deal of physical effort; the tiller or wheel is always trying to push you one way or the other. And trying to sail with just the jib is particularly difficult. You have a big sail with a great deal of leverage (remember, its at the very end of the bowsprit on the maximum lever arm) fighting you. The drive from the main sail is what balances out the force from the jib. Boats with properly designed and sailed rigs are balanced; the amount of effort that it takes to steer is minimal. Sailing with just one sail (any one sail) unbalances the boat.

All that being said, sometimes it makes sense to have just one sail up. It depends on the boat and the conditions. If you want to avoid having your sailor raise the main and use just one sail, I think he would use the fore staysail, not the jib. The jib is the triangular sail furthest out from the main. The fore staysail (sometimes called the inner jib) flys closer to the mast than the jib, and is therefore more suitable for what you envision. Certainly easier to hoist than the main sail on a gaff-rigged boat such as the one you have been describing. But if you are going for authenticity, make sure that the wind is blowing your boat off the first wharf and onto the second. Otherwise, the single-handed scenario is implausable. If you want your sailor to appear expert, I suggest you check out some of the sailing guides that give tips on how to leave docks under sail. You can do some nifty stuff with spring lines, fenders and a clever use of sail and the rudder.
This is a huge help, and very well explained. Thank you!
 

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Sabiny101, are you a local SF writer? If so, and you still in the writing/research stage at Memorial Day, might I suggest you go over to Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda on that Saturday afternoon when the Master Mariner yachts tie up after their regatta. Whereas the Alma is the only boat from the 1880-90s that still actively races, there are plenty of examples of yachts from the turn of the century and the skippers and crews are quite sociable and would be happy to answer questions and show you around their boats. Purely pleasure boats of that vintage tend to be much smaller than 40 foot. A 40 footer would tend to be a schooner or ketch. You could possibly “Jib ‘n Jigger” a big ketch single handed and would be more than enough sail to get from Sausalito to San Francisco (or anywhere in the Bay for that matter).
I am a local, GeorgeB. And that sounds like an excellent plan (not to mention a lot of fun)! I'll definitely put that down on my schedule to check out. Unfortunately, I will be passed my research stage, but the majority of scenes that take place on the boat is while its moored. In the first book, at any rate. For the next ones, I will definitely have to tour a real one, and probably take a sailing class.
 
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