"Board the Tack!"

Two kinds of maneuvers are quite common on the MIR: the tacking and the wearing the ship. Both are complicated affairs on a big square rigger and need solid preparation and a well trained crew - especially when tacking the ship. Let us look at the maneuver with the eyes of the commanding officer from the bridge. For that purpose I describe a routine tack in the way it takes place when the ship is zigzagging against the wind. Normally those maneuvers do not come out of the blue, but are announced in advance. Captain and watch officer have agreed about how long to stay with one course - e.g. until the ship reaches a certain position, a landmark comes in sight or until a certain time like a changing of watches when most of the crew are on deck anyway. Normally an announcement is made to inform the crew about the approximate starting time of the maneuver: "Tonight at 8 we will board a tack with all hands!" For this text I assume that the tack is planned by geographical means (e.g. crossing the 0-meridian). In this case the watch officer regularly checks the position and when the ship comes closer to the turning point a chain of events happens. Immediately before the entire maneuver begins he will call the captain - unless he is not already on the bridge - to hand over the command to him.

1. PREPARATIONS

Before the deck's crew or the free watch even notices that a maneuver is about to start, there are some preparations to be done on the bridge.

2. THE TACK

As a rule on the MIR a change of direction will be done through tacking the ship. There is a big crew and MIR is a very handy ship that follows rudder and helm even in strong breezes without problems. During a tack the ship goes through the wind with the bow first "overshtag". With a well trained crew the entire maneuver will take about 20 minutes. Every master has got his own way to sail the tack although it is  mainly all the same. In the following the tack is described in the way Captain Antonov sails it.


3. WEARING THE SHIP

Certain weather conditions (minor winds or storms), a reduced number of crew members in the early season when there are no cadets on board, or night maneuvers when - as the ship is not in a race - the captain does not want to wake the free watch, or an untrained crew can lead to the decision to wear the ship instead of tacking. This maneuver is easier to do, but needs more time and the ship looses some miles in the needed direction as it is forced to describe a circle. The main difference is that when wearing it is not the bow that goes through the wind but the stern. We turn "fordewind".

4. AFTER THE MANEUVER

When the ship is already on the new course there remains some work to be done before the free watch gets released again.

this page was updated 10/07

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