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Sending Down Yards

Bosun School students have been working on sending down yards. On some other ships, this is done with the assistance of a crane. On Picton Castle, we use the lifting power and mechanical advantage in the ship’s rig to lower the yards down to deck.
Although sending down yards sounds like it may look dramatic, it’s a slow, methodical process. Before yards can come down, there is a lot of preparation work. All running rigging must be sent down or nipped aloft, the yard must be free of anything that will keep it in place, and the mastrope (the line on which the yard is lowered) and the tag line (the line which helps manoeuvre the yard) must be rigged.
Once all of those things are in place, the mastrope takes up the strain with help from the capstan while the bolt and any last bits of rigging are removed. At that point, all of the weight of the yard is being held by the mastrope. The mastrope is slowly and carefully eased around the capstan while a strain is taken on the tag line and the yard is gently eased down to deck (or in our case, down to dock).
The fore t’gallant yard was sent down this morning, then this afternoon the fore lower top’sl yard came down. As we speak, the last project on this lovely sunny Friday afternoon is to send down the fore upper top’sl yard. We’re hoping to do the same on the main mast tomorrow.
By being involved hands-on in projects like this, Bosun School students are learning how to handle lines, including lines under enormous strain, how to work aloft and on deck, how to work safely, and the various steps that are involved in this project. By doing it multiple times with the different yards, they get to move around to different areas and complete different tasks each time.

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