by the main-mast

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enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Question: Were those ropes passed there by starting it from the main mast?


The cabin-passengers of the Highlander numbered some fifteen in all; and to protect this detachment of gentility from the barbarian incursions of the "wild Irish" emigrants, ropes were passed athwart-ships, by the main-mast from side to side: which defined the boundary line between those who had paid three pounds passage-money, from those who had paid twenty guineas.
 
  • anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I would understand this as "ropes were passed from one side of the ship to the other ("athwartships"), through the point on the vessel where the main-mast rests (e.g. roughly at the center of the vessel)."
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Since Melville wrote "ropes," not "a rope," it's possible that two ropes were passed: one from the mainmast to the starboard (right) side of the ship, the other from the mainmast to its port (left) side. The effect is the same as one rope running from port to starboard and passing the mainmast midway between them. The important thing is that a barrier separated cabin passengers from emigrants.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I was once given a stern reprimand for referring to "lines" as "ropes" on a sail boat. They have halyards (which raise the sails), downhauls (to bring the sails down again), "rigging" which are ropes to secure the masts in position, and finally "sheets" which control the sails.

    I would think, that the ropes in question are "rigging". And whether it divides the ship in half, or thirds, probably depends upon the number of masts the ship has.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    They might have originally been used for rigging in the past but in the OP they serve only a barrier function keeping the two groups of passengers apart - so now they are demoted to simple "ropes" with no nautical function :)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    They might have originally been used for rigging in the past but in the OP they serve only a barrier function keeping the two groups of passengers apart - so now they are demoted to simple "ropes" with no nautical function :)
    :thumbsup: I agree. Apart from anything else, Melville was a sailor, and I very much doubt he would have made a mistake in nautical terminology.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ="JulianStuart, post: 18239494, member: 249014"]
    They might have originally been used for rigging in the past but in the OP they serve only a barrier function keeping the two groups of passengers apart - so now they are demoted to simple "ropes" with no nautical function :)
    I also agree. Non-rigging lines on a boat are called ropes.

    The plural 'ropes' is used because they were placed above one another to form a barrier. 'By' the mainmast just means near the mainmast.

    30959

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6N9fajxOabo/V6NbCpTXmoI/AAAAAAAAgmo/HLfUBEsHKkUGbI4uOui0LjZQfCQEGjzHwCLcB/s1600/Footrope.jpg
     

    enkidu68

    Senior Member
    turkish
    Thank you so much for this extended information which gives insight for a vessel ropes, rigging etc.
    I will benefit from this in future:))
     
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