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A mast is a vertical spar, usually rigged to carry sails. A ship has three masts, fore mast, main mast and mizzen mast, a brig or schooner usually has only two, a fore and main mast. These were either solid cylinders of wood from whole tree trunks or were composed of a number of pieces of wood shaped and bonded to make a cylindrical mast.

The mast was stepped on the keel of the ship and passed through the decks. In most ships, the full mast was made up of sections, the mast, the topmast, the topgallant mast and the royal mast. Each of these sections was attached to the one below and could be struck down in heavy weather to avoid the ship carrying too much weight aloft.

In the Canon

In The Ionian Mission, Jack Aubrey begins his captainship of the Worcester by replacing her pole-topgallantmasts with stumps and separate royal-masts, the latter of which he steps "abaft the cap and quite low, to relieve the strain on the notoriously ill-fastened ship in the event of a Mediterranean blow".[1]


  1. O'Brian, Patrick. The Ionian Mission. (c) 1981 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY p.33

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