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chasse-marée


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The French name for a coasting vessel, one which worked the tides. In the 16th century the typical French and other coasters were three masted, normally rigged with square main and foresails, a lateen mizzen, a main topsail, and a spritsail carried below the bowsprit. During the 18th century many coasters adopted the lug rig, based on a design of fishing vessel, and during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815) these luggers, still known as chasse-marées, were used by the French largely for smuggling and as privateers, the rig being refined to the highest possible pitch to provide a good turn of speed. This was achieved by adopting a large sail plan on three masts, all three raked aft, the mizzen being stepped hard up against the vessel's transom. A long bowsprit and bumpkin enabled a greater area of canvas to be spread. All three masts carried a standing lug rig, with a jib to complete the rig, thus producing a very weatherly vessel. Some of the larger chasse-marées could also set a lug topsail on the mainmast. The need for the long bumpkin was to sheet the overhanging mizzen. One drawback of the chasse-marée in its role as a privateer was the comparatively large crew required to handle the considerable area of sail and also provide gun crews; another was that when running free it could be overtaken relatively easily by a ship with normal square rig.

Subjects: Maritime History.


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