The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2015.11.06 - Any Old Iron

Have you any idea how hard it is to find a gammon iron for a small boat? Nearly impossible. A cranse iron is no problem, nor are mast bands spider bands, stirrup irons, tabernacles, gaff saddles and travellers but gammon irons? It’s like nobody has ever heard of one.

What? You haven’t either? Oh, I suppose I’d better tell you what all these things are.

On most sailing boats there are various fittings that allow things to work correctly. For example, holding the boom on to the mast so that it can pivot at the mast but cannot move up and down. Each of these things has a special nautical name.

Cranse Iron: a circular ring of metal that is fitted to the end of the bowsprit and has two or four eyes to which various wire ropes are attached.
Gammon Iron: a circular ring at the front of the boat through which the bowsprit is placed and stops the bowsprit from moving from side-to-side or up-and-down.
Mast Band: A metal ring like the cranse iron but fitted high up the mast.
Spider Band: A metal ring around the bottom of the mast that has a number of cleats to which the ropes are attached.
Stirrup Iron: A loop of metal fitted to the the gaff which allows the rope used to hoist the sails to be attached.
Tabernacle: A fancy nautical word for a pivot. Allows the mast to be easily lowered and raised.
Gaff Saddle: Something that is fitted to the mast end of the gaff that allows the gaff to slide up and down the mast..sort of.
Traveller: A piece of metal rod mounted horizontally at the back end of the boat to which the rope controlling the main sail is attached. The attached end is allowed to ‘travel’ from one side of the traveller to the other and hence the modern name. The older name for this is a mainsheet horse.

So why am I making such a fuss about a gammon iron? ‘Cause I found one, that’s why and it’s just about perfect for the rig I have in mind for Naiad. Not only that but its wasn’t that expensive even though it is made of bronze.

So I’m quite happy.

Of course, it will be several months before I’ll be able to fit it to the hull, but I wasn’t going to let a bargain like that pass me by especially since I’ve been on the look out for one since the Naiad project began.

And here it is, the new Gammon Iron for Naiad. I bought the large block on special offer at the same time. I need two of those but I only have to pay the full price for one of them!