Ship Wavertree
1885
A photo essay of the rigging restoration of the full-rigged ship Wavertree.
The house flag of R.W.
Leyland, R W & Co, Liverpool
Wavertree by Oswald Brett
We required a rigging loft to
restore or renew the various bits
of standing and running rigging.

One of the first tasks in the rehabilitation of the rigging is to remove the old service and
underlying parceling and worming to expose the bare wire rope. The wire rope is 1 ½”
in diameter on the lower and topmast rigging and is in very good condition. After the
wire is exposed, it is cleaned and coated with a wire rope lubricant and then tarred with
Stockholm tar. Worming of small stuff is next placed in between the strands of the wire
rope to form a round surface for the burlap parceling to wrap around. The worming and
the parceling are applied “with the lay” or following the helix twist of the 6 strands
making up the wire rope. The final task is to apply a layer of marline service which is
applied opposite to the direction of the worming and parceling.


All of these time-consuming tasks are to give the wire rope as much protection from the
corrosive forces of sea and weather. I recommended we use a combination of natural
hemp and synthetic marline to most thoroughly protect Wavertree’s rigging. The hemp
marline is being used from the bottom end of the rigging for a distance of 12 feet at
which point it transitions to synthetic marline. Today, most sailing ships use tarred nylon
seine twine, but it has an entirely different look than traditional marline. The synthetic
marline we are using is called synthetic seaman’s yarn and is difficult to distinguish
from hemp marline. Its only drawbacks versus natural hemp marline are is it creates a
very hard and unyielding service which makes it more difficult to turned in seizings and
it does not take Stockholm tar as well as natural marline.


Since the lower ends of most of the rigging were spliced and splicing damages the
galvanizing of the wire and needs to accept and absorb periodic tarring, it is important
to have a material which will allow the best ongoing protection which is hemp. Plus,
there is nothing more satisfying to a traditional rigger than the pleasure of hearing a
serving mallet squeak and sing and the fragrance of Stockholm tar oozing out of freshly
laid hemp service as the mallet orbits the wire rope.
As you can observe from the photos, it is very hard to distinguish the two materials with
a proper marriage or transition between them.
Stepping The Mizzen Mast