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nettings


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1 Spaces around the upper deck, forecastle, poop, and the break of the quarterdeck in sailing warships in which the crew's hammocks, protected by quarter-cloths, were stowed in the daytime. They had several uses. Exposure to fresh air limited the number of lice in the hammocks which also served as a defence in battle against enemy musket-fire. The hammocks also acted as liferafts as they could support a man for six hours before becoming waterlogged.

2 A net formed of small ropes seized together with yarns and spread across the waist of a ship in hot weather. Sails were laid on them to form an awning to provide protection from the sun. They were also used in some merchant ships as a defence against boarders, since merchantmen usually lay lower in the water than warships and boarders would have to drop down on to the deck. However, it proved more dangerous than defensive, as boarders soon learnt the trick of cutting the netting down and enveloping the men beneath it. The purpose of splinter-netting, a stout rope netting rigged in battle in the days of sailing navies between the mainmast and mizzen-mast at a height of about 3.6 metres (12 ft) above the quarterdeck, was to prevent those engaged there being injured if masts or spars were shot away during the action. It also served to break the fall of men in the tops or on the yards if they fell as a result of the enemy's gunfire.

Subjects: Maritime History.


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