Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Main Topsail

December 22, 2017

Day 630.

The main topsail is next.  This is where the sails start to get a little more complicated.  Not only does it have a more complex shape (with a curve), but it also has some different rigging.


The sail was made just like the others. A paper template was made, the lines were transferred to the cloth, and everything was cut and sewn.

Main Topsail Clew Line



The main topsails has a clew line.  I’ve never even heard of a clew line before, so it is safe to say I was clewless.  I had to do some research just to understand what these lines were for.

The clew line is used to bundle up the sail when it is not in use.  The clew line is tied to the sail and runs through fairleads and blocks around the edges of the sail.  By pulling on the free end of the rope, the sail is bunched up and pulled to the mast.

Since the clew line is rigged entire on the sail and doesn’t require anything on the mast or gaff, it makes sense to rig this line before we install the sail.

The clew line needs to pass through multiple fairleads.  Normally these are attached to the bolt rope (a rope that runs along the edge of the sail), but I didn’t use a bolt rope.  I’ll need to attach fairleads directly to the sail.

To make the fairleads, I cut some slices of small brass tubing.


Brass tube slices will be used to make fairleads for the clew.

Then I glued some rigging line around the outside of each piece.


Rigging line is glued to the brass tubes.

These were then tied to the edges of the sail, and the excess line was cut off.


The fairleads are tied to the edges of the sail.

Small single blocks were added in three of the corners.  These were seized to the rings in the corners of the sale.

Finally, some tan rigging line was run.  This line is tied off on the corner with the curve, then runs through the fairleads and blocks.  It will exit the sail from the bock on the very top corner.  Once the sail is installed, the loose end of the line will be tied off to a pin.


The clew line was installed before putting the sail on the ship.

Main Topsail Halliard



The topsail halliard pulls the sail up towards the top of the mast.  Compared to some of the other halliards, this one is easy.

A tan rigging line runs between a block on the mast and a block on the sail, and the free end is tied off to a belaying pin.


The halliard is pretty simple, running between two blocks.

Main Topsail Sheet



The sheet keeps the lower corner of the sail pulled tight agains the gaff.  Again, compared to other sheets, this one is easy.

It starts at the corner of the sail, where it is secured to the corner with an eye splice.  It runs through a block on the end of the gaff.


The sheet starts at the corner of the sail and passes through a block on the gaff.

Then it runs to the other end of the gaff, where it passes through a block attached to the bottom of the gaff.


The sheet then passes through a block at the other end of the gaff, then gets tied off below on a belaying pin.

From there, it simply runs to a belaying pin and gets tied off.

Main Topsail Tack



The tack is even simpler.  This line is secured to the bottom corner of the sail with an eye splice, and tied off on a pin.


The tack is just a simple line that ties the bottom corner to the deck.

The main topsail is the first sail I installed on the top masts.  The ship is definitely starting to look a bit taller.


The completed main topsail.


Five down.  Three to go.