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From the Carib hamorca, a type of native bed, and the bed of the naval seaman for hundreds of years, but not any longer, as the modern seaman sleeps in a bunk. The hammock was invented, it is said, by Alcibiades, but its introduction in ships dates from the time of Christopher Columbus who noted that the natives of the Carib islands used them slung between trees. The maritime version is made of canvas with a row of small eyelet holes at each end through which are rove nettles which spread from a ring. When used on board, hammocks were slung from hooks in the deck beams. When not in use they were lashed up, with the blankets inside them, by nine turns of a rope. In the days of sailing warships, hammock nettings, protected by quarter-cloths, were placed along the sides of the upper deck and along the break of the poop so that the hammocks in them could act as a protection from musket fire from an enemy ship during battle. They were also stowed like this so that they would float free in the event of being sunk in battle, as a properly lashed hammock could support the weight of a man in the water for a considerable time.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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