smiting line

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A small rope made fast to the underside of the mizzen yardarm at its lower end during the period when the normal rig of sailing ships was a lateen mizzen. When the mizzen-sail was furled this rope was led along the yard to the mizzen peak with the sail and then down to the poop. Spunyarns are used to stop the sail to the yard with the smiting lines inside them, so the sail could be set, or loosed, without having to strike down the yard, simply by pulling on the smiting line and thus breaking the spunyarns. ‘Smite the mizzen’, the order to haul down on the smiting line.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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