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For the system of escape routes used by Nazis and other fascists after World War II, see Ratlines (World War II aftermath).
Climbing the ratlines of STS Mir
Rat-boards and rigging of Christian Radich

Ratlines, pronounced "rattlin's", are lengths of thin line tied between the shrouds of a sailing ship to form a ladder.[1] Found on all square rigged ships, whose crews must go aloft to stow the square sails, they also appear on larger fore-and-aft rigged vessels to aid in repairs aloft or conduct a lookout from above.

Lower courses in a ratline are often made of slats of wood for support where the distance between shrouds is greatest. These wooden boards are called rat-boards. In some instances holes in these slats guide and organise low-tension lines between the deck and the rig.


  1. ^ "The Free Dictionary: Ratlines". Retrieved 2013-08-29.