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The shrouds serve a similar function but extend on each side of the mast and provide support in the athwartships direction. The object of both is to prevent the masts from falling down but the stays also prevent springing, when the ship is pitching deep.
To miss stays is an unsuccessful attempt to tack.
Types of stays
- forestay or headstay
- reaches from the foremast-head towards the bowsprit end
- extends to the ship's stem. The mizzenstay stretches to a collar on the main-mast, immediately above the quarter-deck.
- fore-topmast stay
- goes to the end of the bowsprit, a little beyond the forestay, on which the fore-topmast staysail runs on hanks.
- main-topmast stay
- attaches to the hounds of the foremast, or comes on deck.
- mizzen-topmast stay
- goes to the hounds of the main-mast.
- top-gallant, royal, or any other masts
- have each a stay, named after their respective masts
- is a kind of substitute nearly parallel to the principal stay, and intended to help the principal stay to support its mast
- triatic stay
- is a stay that runs between masts. On a ketch it runs between the main mast and the head of the mizzen mast and is used to stop the upper section of the mizzen mast being pulled backwards. On a steamer, an iron bar between the two knees secures the paddle-beams. (See funnel stays).
To stay. To tack, to bring the ship's head up to the wind for going about; hence to miss stays, is to fail in the attempt to go about. In stays, or hove in stays, is the situation of a vessel when she is staying, or in the act of going about. A vessel in bad trim, or lubberly handled, is sure to be slack in stays, and refuses stays, when she has to wear.
- Keegan, John (1989). The Price of Admiralty. New York: Viking. p. 280. ISBN 0-670-81416-4.
- Smyth, William Henry; Belcher, Edward (1867). The sailor's word-book: An alphabetical digest of nautical terms, including some more especially military and scientific ... as well as archaisms of early voyagers, etc. London: Blackie and Son. pp. 652–653.