The winter crew of the US Brig Niagara is busy right now making the new standing rigging (shrouds and stays) for the new foremast we are installing this winter! We’ll be booking trainee berths for next summer very soon, so stay tuned for updates!
Here is a 20 minute video on how a shroud is served with hemp marline. We are using a 4-strand, shroud-laid Kevlar cable. Yes, that’s right, we’re using Kevlar instead of Hemp or Wire Rope. Kevlar has superior strength, has stretch properties that are similar to the finest grade hemp, is of the same construction as hemp shroud laid rope, and is much lighter than wire rope. Many thanks to John Baker (our ship’s photographer) for producing this film. It shows as much detail on the topic as I could pack into a 20 minute instructional video.
I have seen many different ways to apply marline service to a cable. Many riggers have tried to speed up the process through the use of modern tools and techniques. I have seen riggers use pipe threading machines or drill motors to rotate the cable, while the rigger holds the serving mallet…WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! The mallet should be spun around the cable.
Modern methods are not really very much faster (if at all), but most importantly…why apply traditional service, if you don’t know how to do it in a traditional way? If you take the time to learn to do it right, and practice, practice, practice, you’ll get good enough to do it manually as fast or even faster than a home-made machine.
Finally, spool your marline onto the spool my hand, not with a drill or other machine. You’ll need the 5 minute break to rest. Don’t rush the process, and STAY FOCUSED ON THE TASK! Making a sailing ship’s rig with your bare hands, involves skills that (once honed) make evident the grace in a trade so efficient in its technical simplicity, repitition, and precision.