1 A fitting attached to a hawser or wire which is being towed by a vessel, designed to hold it at a certain depth beneath the surface. It works on exactly the same principle as an otter, though in the vertical plane it comprises an inclined surface attached to the hawser or wire, the pressure of the water upon it as it is being towed forcing it down. The required depth is arranged by varying the distance from the point of tow at which it is attached to the hawser. It is particularly used in certain minesweeping techniques such as the Oropesa sweep.
2 A general name used to describe an additional light sail spread in a square-rigged ship to make the most of light following winds. Originally kites meant all sails set above the topsails but as the square rig was extended in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the topgallant sail became standard, the term referred only to sails set above that sail, but included the studding-sails and jib-topsails.
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