which was rove through a block in the mizzen-rigging,


Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Question: I think bold one modifies this line (used to measure the deep of the sea), so where was this line exactly in what state?

When we came to haul it up, I was astonished at the force necessary to perform the work. The whole watch pulled at the line, which was rove through a block in the mizzen-rigging, as if we were hauling up a fat porpoise. When the lead came in sight, I was all eagerness to examine the tallow, and get a peep at a specimen of the bottom of the sea; but the sailors did not seem to be much interested by it, calling me a fool for wanting to preserve a few grains of the sand.
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "rove" is the past tense of "to reeve"

    reeve2 (rēv), v.t., rove or reeved, reev•ing. [Naut.]
    1. Nautical, Naval Terms to pass (a rope or the like) through a hole, ring, or the like.
    2. Nautical, Naval Terms to fasten by placing through or around something.
    3. Nautical, Naval Terms to pass a rope through (the swallow of a block)
    reeve - WordReference.com Dictionary of English
    A block was attached to the rigging and the line was passed through it and then dangled over the side of the boat into the sea.

    This picture of a man using a block and tackle is from Block and tackle - Wikipedia and if reused should be acknowledged as such.


    A block is used because it would damage both the line and the side of the ship to simply sling it over the side thus causing a lot of friction. Note also that a block and tackle can be used to provide extra leverage. I suspect from the description that they were using only a single block (see diagram below) and therefore there would be no extra leverage. This could explain why their task was so difficult.

    The following picture is adapted by me from the one shown above. Again I acknowledge the original artwork from the above source.
    The picture shows a man using a single block to support a load.

    Last edited:
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