Flying Backstays

Day 563.

The flying backstays are a bit more complicated than the other lines that have been run so far.  In the big scheme of things, they aren’t hard, but they are more involved than just running a line with a couple eye splices.

There are two flying backstays – one on either side of the ship.  They run from the main top mast down to the deck.  What makes these more complicated is a system of blocks, hooks, and lines at the bottom that makes the flying backstay adjustable and removable.


Rather than running straight to the deck, the flying backstays run to a block (pulley). This block is laced to another block, and the free end is tied off on a belaying pin.  This makes it adjustable.  That second block, however, still isn’t on the deck. Instead it is attached to the deck by a separate line that hooks on.  Unhooking that would let the flying backstay loose.


To get started, I made the short lines that will hook on an run to the eyebolts on the deck first.  These were short 0.018″ black lines with an eye splice in either side.  One side receives a hook, while the other side receives an eye bolt.

These eyebolts weren’t called on the deck plans, so I didn’t install them back then.  That actually turns out better, because they go at the very back of the deck, right up against the transom.  If those eye bolts were already installed, it would be nearly impossible to get the line through there and properly spliced or seized.

Instead, it worked out that I spliced the line around the eyebolts off the ship, then drilled holes in the deck and glued the eyebolts in place with the lines already attached.

First the lower parts were made, which will hook onto the lower block.  The eyebolts will be secured in the deck.

The main run of the flying backstay starts at the main top mast and runs down to the first block.  I made this line from 0.025″ black rigging line.  The entire assembly was prepped off-ship, then installed once everything was ready.

The top of the line is a fairly simply eye splice.  I left the ‘eye’ big enough that I could slip it on and off, over the ball and truck at the top of the mast.

The top gets an eye splice and goes around the top mast.

The other end receives an eye splice that is secured to a double block.  I took the length of this run from the plans.

The other end of the main line gets eye spliced to a double block.

Around this time, I also made a second block.  The second block is a single block, and it has a loop on each side.

On the top loop, I tied the tan line that will be run between the blocks.  I ran that up to the top block, back back down, back up, and out the back.

The blocks are laced together with tan line.

The lower block was then hooked onto the short line that was secured to the deck. Using the free end of the tan line, I pulled the line tight, and tied off the tan line on the correct belaying pin.

The completed lower assembly for one side.  The tan line runs between the two blocks, and the fall (loose end) is tied to a belaying pin on the rail.

Finally, I repeated the entire process for the other side.  It is worth noting that I did not glue the ‘falls’ to the belaying pins in any way.  I left a lot of extra line, and just coiled it up.  Keeping this loose allows me to untie it later for adjusting.  When everything is done, I might come back and dab on a bit of glue to secure it.  At that point I can replace the rope coils with better looking ones (made off-ship) if I want.

Both flying backstays completed.