SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
August 30, 2015
A Forest of Masts
Our ship is surrounded by a forest of masts. As a popular cruising destination for yachts all across the Mediterranean, Palma de Mallorca has a huge collection of boats of all sizes…many of them larger than the Corwith Cramer! Although we are in the middle of a maintenance period, most of the other yachts in Palma are here for leisure and it has been interesting to see the boats come and go while we make steady progress on our work lists. Often we pause to gape at the huge racing yachts arriving with their exceptionally tall masts. They in turn stare at the Corwith Cramer because we are the only ship in the harbor with square rigged sails and associated yards (yards are what hold the square sails in place).
In the late 18th century, almost all large ships were square rigged on at least one mast, and these ships would often bring their yards down to the deck for repair or replacement when the ship was undergoing a maintenance period. During the Napoleonic Wars and associated periods of naval blockade, if a combatant ship was spotted in a harbor crossing her yards (i.e. rigging them for sailing), it was a sure sign that the ship would shortly get underway. Spies on land and blockading vessels at sea kept a close eye on the status of yards in a harbor to give their nation every advantage in battle. In the modern era, however, square rigged ships are rare and the current status of yards (crossed or struck) is not a daily news item.
So, on the Corwith Cramer, since we find ourselves in the 21st century and are not currently subject to blockade (last I looked), we’ll leave our yards crossed for now, and continue to enjoy being a spectacle to all the sloops, ketches, yawls, schooners, and power yachts coming and going from Palma de Mallorca.