7. Setting Sail

Ship's discipline must not be relaxed in the lifeboat. There is much work that has to be done; and the sooner the men area apportioned their duties, the better it will be for their morale.

Dipping lug sail
Dipping lug sail.

SETTING SAIL. -- Before you step the mast, reeve the halyard through the sheave. Step the mast and tighten up on the stays. Bend the halyard about one-third way up on the yard-arm, starting from the fore leech. The fore leech is


easily recognizable because it is shorter than the after leech, or after end, of the sail.

No downhaul is required. Bend the tack to the stem or cross bows, depending on whether the wind is abeam or on the quarter, for your proposed track. Hoist the sail. Then tighten up on the halyard. Secure it at the foot of the mast, or use it as a stay. Haul in the sheet until the sail fills.

SETTING WATCHES. -- Set the watches the same as aboard ship, one man in charge of a watch, the best men for the late parts of the night. Once a man learns what to do, he is expected to show initiative. He should know enough to change course when the wind changes, and to inform the mate of it when the latter wakes up.

RATIONING FOOD. -- Put a responsible person in charge of the rations.

If you have potatoes and onions in the extra rations, keep them dry or they will sprout. If they take up too much space, remove them from the sacks and drop them along the side benches on top of the tanks.

On dry days inspect the food to see if anything is spoiled and to find out what is on hand.

If rations are short, the men must conserve their energy, moving about only enough to keep the kinks out of their knees. And watch out for


the kinks -- in case you have to move fast in a squall.

RATIONING WATER. -- Be sure you know, before the emergency arises, the amount of fresh water in your lifeboat. The seven men in a boat from the torpedoed British freighter Anglo-Saxon found only four gallons in their breaker. Five of those men never reached land.

Use this simple method to determine how long your supply will last:

Your water breaker contains, we will say, 15 gallons -- 128 ounces to the gallon -- or 1920 ounces. Dividing by 6 ounces -- the average ration -- you learn that the breaker contains 320 cups of water. Subtract 20 cups, because the breaker is not entirely full -- to allow for expansion during the winter months -- and you have 300 cups of 6 ounces.

This amount will provide water 3 times a day for 100 days.

(100 ÷ Number in boat) equals number of days the water will last.

RAIN WATER. -- For rain water use an airtank from the stern -- never one of the forward or waist tanks. Because in heavy weather the boat will ship water frequently in these sections, there is a greater need of the airtanks to maintain buoyancy.

--50 --

In collecting water, you will find that it takes a lot of rain to get the salt out of the sail. Therefore, you should have an extra piece of canvas to be used only for catching water, or better still, a piece of oiled silk or even oilcloth.

You are advised against using the boat cover to collect water. Not only is it soaked with salt, but if the boat cover has been treated with canvas preserver, the water will become foul in warm weather.

Stop for water during heavy squalls. If the squalls are frequent, you need stop only long enough to make up for what has been drunk during the day.

Care must be used in storing an airtank full of water, so as not to upset the boat's stability, or put an undue stress on the bottom.

COMPASS.--Use the staples from the lifelines to secure the compass aft for the man at the tiller. Lubber's line should line up with the center of the keel.

If the alcohol is missing from the compass, fresh water may be substituted, though it will corrode the metal. As a last resort in freezing weather, fill your compass with water, wrap it well, or bank it with snow, and keep the compass light burning.

FLARES. -- When you have occasion to use one,


lash a flare to the end of an oar, so the men will not be blinded by its glare. Be sure to keep it away from the sail.

SEA ANCHOR. -- To make a sea anchor: With a hatchet cut two metal rings, about one inch wide, from the tank used for rain water. Cut the rings to break the circle, and pull each one out to form a half-circle. Split one end of each half-circle by making two cuts, and fit them together so as to make one large ring or grommet. Hammer the joints tight and secure with marlin. Serve the grommet with rope yarn or marlin, so it will not cut through the canvas.

Diagram for constructing sea anchor
A and B represent two rings cut from the tank used for rain water, which are made into the grommet for the sea anchor, as described in the text.


Set the canvas up in a conical shape and sew the ring to it. Add bridles and line. You will have a sea anchor that is similar to those ordinarily found in lifeboats.

In case no canvas is available for a sea anchor, secure a bucket or a can in the center of an oar. Secure a line to each end of the oar and make the lines fast, one to each side of the boat, well forward. (Also see page 76 for Dixon's sea anchor.)

OARS. -- Lash all the oars, not otherwise in use, on the weather side. This will raise the lee side, and will help to prevent swamping.

STEERING OAR. -- If you use the steering oar, fasten a short lanyard on its near the leather -- the part of the oar which rests in the oar lock. That will eliminate the chance of losing it. The lanyard also allows you to walk away from the oar. In rough weather kneel with the steering oar; do not stand.

RAIL. -- To build a rail, lash an oar to the mast, and fit one end in the crotch of a boat hook which has been secured upright. Cut the staff of the boat hook to make a stanchion of sufficient height. Use adequate lashings. The rial will aid the men going forward or aft. By standing on a thwart, supported by others and resting against the rail, the mate will be better able to take a sight.

MAST. -- Many times in stepping a mast, the


tenon on the heel of the mast proves to be too small for the mortise of the step, in which case you will have to wedge the tenon to fit tightly.

SPREADERS. -- You can use the spreaders to make tillers, or you can cut them up for use as wedges.

BOAT COVER. -- The boat cover will shelter you from the sun and rain. A piece of it can be used to increase the sail area. Use other pieces to keep dry the sextant and chronometer, which may be stowed aft in the space of the airtank that you are using for rain water. The cover lashings, as well as the grab lines, will supply extra line for replacements and additions to stays and halyards.

SAIL BAG. -- By slitting the sail bag at the seams, you will have extra canvas for increasing the sail area.


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