Lots of definitions

The foremast is going into the boat next thursday (10/17) and we wanted to make sure that everything lined up properly ahead of time. After some final tweaking, the top and cap were set up and the fore topmast was brought out of storage for a test fit. Matt and Alex coaxed all the parts together, and everything fit like a dream.


Roger clued me in to a terminology mistake I made the other day, so here’s an illustration of all the parts we’ve been looking at recently along with some descriptions.

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In the photo above, the topmast is on top, going out to the left. The lower foremast is below it, heading out to the right.

Cap: Fits over a tenon at the top of the masthead. It has a circular section that the upper mast fits through.

Heel: The base of any mast. The topmast heel fits into a square space made by the Trees.

Fid: A stout wooden pin that fits through a slot in the upper mast and keeps that mast from sliding down through the trees.

Doubling: The area where two masts overlap.

Top: A platform that rests on the trees. It is named for its mast (the foretop in this case).

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Trees: Structure composed of cross-members (cross trees) and fore-aft members (trestle trees). The trees slide down the masthead and sit on top of the Hounds. They hold the heel of the mast above them.

Hounds: You can’t see them in this photo, but they are the ledge formed when the squared section of the masthead ends and the round section of the mast begins.

Bibbs: These two stout parts act like shelf supports and bear on the trestle trees.


Alex and Matt agree that everything’s looking good. Check that off the list.


Walt has been working on the trees for the main top. These trees don’t have a top to them, they’re just the bare structure. The lower masthead will come up through the square in the center, and the heel of the t’gallant (top gallant) will rest in the opening on the right. There will be a small metal gate attached later to trap the heel.

Terminology test! Which are the trestle trees and which are the cross trees?
Answer: the trestle trees are going right to left in that photo, and the cross trees are the short bits connecting them.


Riveted for strength, and just about finished.

And because it works so well for vertical spars, big boat builders use the same sort of system for joining long horizontal spars like the Jiboom and Bowsprit. Here’s a cap that Trev has fit onto the end of the bowsprit

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This cap has a plate and rod fit through it to help hold it in place, as well as to provide a fastening point for the Dolphin Striker. You can see that plate best in the upper photo. The rod is welded to the plate and comes through the cap. Later it will be threaded and a held in place with a nut.


This is the dolphin striker. You’ll see more of that later I’m sure. The hook at the right end will go through an eye that will go through the plate you saw above.

One more bit of terminology that I just learned. Most of us know that when a mast is tilted off of vertical, the angle of that tilt is called its Rake. As in, “The mainmast has five degrees of rake” When a spar, like the bowsprit or jibbom inclines above horizontal, that inclination is called Steeve. You can also use this either of these terms as a verb: Rake the mast and steeve the jibbom!

Special thanks go out to Roger for all the terminology help. If you’d like to have a desk reference for this sort of thing, we go to Rene de Kerchove’s “International Maritime Dictionary.”