View Full Version : Running Bow Sprits

10-19-2002, 04:23 PM
This was my first post here ever which asked a few questions about the topic.


I also did a search and it dod not work out, so I tracked it down line by line...page by page, but at least I knew what I was looking for...

As a historical re-enactor I wish to emmulate the ways and items of a certain time.

While I can fabricate a running bow sprit with little difficulty, and meaybe even make a believeable looking rig of it, the info I have is slight, and most of every thing would be what I would have done then, and probably be pretty far from correct.

My boat is incorrect speaking in some terms, but it is believable more or less.

I strive to do thing as close to correct as I can.

Some things I do not have much controll of. I did not build the boat, nor was it made for the activity I put it to use for.

I can not find any numbers, and think this boat must have been built by a person that knew dorries, but only built one.

I restored it and know every screw hole. For that matter there were not enough screw holes to sail it. And no hardware fit. It does have a modern sail rig, which I did set up, but absolutly won't do in 1758.

The link to the post has another link to a few pics of the boat on a trailer. I did not take those, but a friend with a yard dsale digital camera did the day he got the camera...

Anyway either English or French Patterns are a option for this boat. (possibly other Baltic countries might have influence)

When the new sail rig is made the boat will be sprit rigged with a cutter set up forward.

2 jibs, one flying ahead of the first, and hi cut so a swivel gun can be used below these sails.

Only calmer winds will allow the use of the running bow sprit, but the boat might need that power in a battle to escape.

I can not afford Irish linen for sails, and will use a Eygptian cotton, hand sewn and hemp bolt roped, in what now is termed working sails with a vertical seaming, which is less efficent....

I can say pretty much what I want to do, but I have almost no info on this part of the rig.

I would like to know what it might look like in detail, and will then fabricate the parts myself.. Mac

Gary Bergman
10-19-2002, 10:03 PM
I am currently trying to deal on a reenactment vessel on the Great Lakes to move west. What period are you interested in? Several photos I have of this vessel have many smaller craft present...might be of help. Mostly French-Indian or Ticonderoga types. Most with 10 gauge type swivel guns though there's a 2 pounder or so around. Gary

10-19-2002, 11:32 PM
Hey, Mac-Muz. I checked thru the info I have on old boat types and came up blank on sliding bowsprits for small boats. Smallest & oldest boat ref I have is for a Scottish cutter of middle eighteen hundreds and over 30-ft long. Sorry.

Gary Bergman
10-20-2002, 10:05 AM
Here's a link.... http://historicsailing.tripod.com/menu.html alot of craft pictured under various headings

[ 10-20-2002, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: Gary Bergman ]

Ben Fuller
10-20-2002, 10:59 AM
For a dory of the 1750's running bowsprits and centerboards even are overkill or anacronistic. You don't see centerboards until after the Civil War..... For a rig a sprit sail would be OK if you have to have one. In the 1750's rowing would have been the usual way to move about.

Gardner has some interesting stuff on the big dories aka batteaus in The Dory Book. If you do need a bowsprit, the simplest one is the one the old fishermen used...... a bowsprit with a slot that fit over the stem head, and a pin through the stem head to keep it in place. In your boat then a lashing aft to keep the heel down as you have no foredeck, and lashings to the open rails on each side to keep side by side movement down. Depending on where you mast ends up, you could also run the bowsprit back and lash the heel to the mast or set it up like a boom with a couple of ears to keep it from moving. You should not need a bob stay. The mast should be unstayed.

Double thole pins was the custom in dories. The single thole pin and grommet is also old, of your period, but seems common in Scandavia. As far as your thwarts go ( looking at your earlier post) you should need no more than 30 inches between rowing stations if people are in synch.

And for armament boats this size would depend on mustkets. A "rail gun" would be the biggest that might get mounted if you went with something fixed, and there is no evidence for stuff like this in an 18' boat.

Have fun.

10-20-2002, 12:25 PM
I modified my bowsprit to running this year. After 64 years with a fixed bowsprit, the fact that marinas charge you for the bowsprit was the decider.

Bowsprit runs between the bitts. Wooden fid (oak, tapered on fore side only) goes in front of bitts to hold boasprit in place (nb - put a lanyard on this!)

Above bowsprit, wooden roller of largest reasonable diameter (very important!) turns on iron or bronze rod (mine is 5" diameter, turned iroko, and runs on a big iron bolt) It as advisable to have this rod loose so that you can pull it out and lift the inboard end of the bowsprit if, like mine, it is a longish one.

Otherwise you may be unable to open your forehatch.

Heel rope runs from bitts one one side through score in aft end of bowsprit to turning block at stemhead and back to windlass barrel.

A refinement - if your bowsprit follows the line of the sheer, you will need to glue a wedge to the upper surface of the inboard end of it to allow it to clear the line of the deck as it runs in.

Works well, and will pay for itself soon enough.

Gary Bergman
10-20-2002, 02:49 PM
Like I said, check the link above. plenty of 1700's bowsprits in reenactments, and jib booms.

Ben Fuller
10-20-2002, 07:41 PM
W.E. May's book, the Boats of Men of War is the first place to start when researching and reconstructing 18th century boats. Looks like the largest boats, longboats, 28 to 32 feet were commonly cutter rigged with double headsails by mid 18th century. Reefing bowsprit just runs along side the stem head then is lashed at the heel. However, smaller boats of the time were sprit rigged. Mac's boat is a nice 18 foot Swampscot dory which is much too small a boat to be accurately rigged with the cutter rig.

[ 10-20-2002, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: Ben Fuller ]

10-21-2002, 07:41 AM
Yeah I know the extra rigging is not exactly correct, but the boat is not correct.

I want the speed in light air. The boat that this one may fight is a whale boat, loaded with guns, and can have 10 men rowing.

The boat was found in a gravel pit full to over flowing with ice and water. The plug was in the day I found it. It was sitting cocked to one side a bit from level, and once drained had apx 10" of leaves and mud in the bottom. The epoxy finish which was bright was ruined.

Some wood (cedar) was rotted to the squeeze and crush mode!

I traded a .22 Ruger Single Six for it.

I had what I would call a marconii rig, with a square hollow mast, and stainless steel rigging.

Once the boat was repaired I set the mast in place with the rigging set as it was, and the shrouds and stays hung with over 2 feet of slack.

There were no screw holes showing where cleets had been, no number plate, and or screw holes, no fair leads, clam cleets, or anything to controll the jib and or main...

There was one rowing place, and it had ring type row locks flush to the gunnel.

I added wooden cleets, and single tholle pins, and another place, but found the 2nd place to close, and the forward place tends to cause the aft rower to get punched in the back.

I am going to build another mast, so these can be interchanged, and this will be a sprit rig. This mast will not turn with the sail.

I also intend to add a bit for a smaller swivel gun.

I have seen a small picture of a 1700's long boat that was English and had a running bow sprit, but can not make out the details.

With F&I boats we would seem to have some lee way in what we do, as I have not seen many really correct, but more research is being done, and soon there will be better boats.

This one is a learning experience for me as I prefer canoes.

The capacity of this dorrie seems to be 4 people. I guess it might carry 6, and if there were no laws I guess it might carry 10 men, but would not be safe.

This boat does have a dagger board, and 2 places for it to go in. I can only guess that who ever built it, thought maybe to have a second mast aft the main mast??????

I rather doubt anyone can ID this boat as to who built it. The only thing I found was a painted on name when I sanded it down to repaint.

Originaly it was white with a blue shear strake, under that blue, was more a sea green/blue and the name "PEARL" on both sides.

The man I traded with had no idea about the boat and any history, and left it to rot.

After my lessons I hope to build from the begining a proper craft, but I am in a learning mode just now.

A side note: I saw a friend the 3rd weekend in Sept, he was going to re fit a 40'+ hull as F&I ready smaller ship. It had been built as such then changed. Sunday Oct 20th I was saddened to learn my friend fell from the mast and was killed. Mac

Back in on edit:

Thank you Gary for that site....

To others that know better, and I would like a few pics if possible with details for this rig.

My idea is to be able to swap out the modern rig to the older rig, with out changing the boat over all.

In my photos you can see what I did for fair leads, and that was just me dreaming up something that would work and more or less look ok. I faired in red oak blocks and then drilled and set copper water pipe in with flaring so the jib sheets would run. I set the jib up to see where best to place these leads. This was with the modern rig, as the old/ new one still has to be made.

I do go to Ft Ti, and did recognize some ships and boats, and even people on the site given...

Maybe my term swivel maybe should be rail gun.... I have seen these on trade blankets for sale, and these are apx 26" long, with a 1" bore. I hope to find something with a golf ball bore, but don't know much about that type of gun, and what size it has to be to be for that bore size.

I am fairly good with flinters, but those are a little different. At my site link pic #17 shows some things I made from kits and or from scratch.

The flinter pistol was made from shop scrap, and shoots fine. The barrel was solid brass round stock, and the wood was from a walnut plank.

other things at that site: The canoe is WW-1 circa so far as I can tell. I made several masts and rudders untill one set did not fail. I have a few rudders on the bottom of Sebago Lake in Maine :rolleyes: The sail was made from circa 1920's pillow ticking, and the lee boards are ply wood. The wheel was from a wicker baby buggie, which I cut the solid rubber tire off, and long spliced a horse lead made of cotton on. Once again......... Mac

[ 10-21-2002, 09:34 AM: Message edited by: Mac_Muz ]