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Yards were long pieces of timber suspended upon the mast of a ship that allowed the sails to fill with wind. A yards was suspended across the mast at a right angle, or obliquely, depending on the kind of sail attached.

The order of the yards from the bottom to the top sections of a mast, were as follows:

Main or lower yard
Lower topsail yard
Upper topsail yard
Lower topgallant yard
Upper topgallant yard
Royal yard

The main yard, lower topsail yard and lower topgallant yard were usually fixed permanently in one position, while the upper topsail and royal yards were attached to the mast by an assembly of ropes called a parrel.

The different kinds of parrels are illustrated in Plate VIII of William Falconer’s Dictionary of the Marine.

Falconer's Dictionary also provides detailed information about the different masts and yards used on eighteenth-century sea-going naval and merchant vessels.

Online Sources
  • Falconer, William, Online edition of William Falconer's Universal Dictionary of the Marine, or, a Copious Explanation of the Technical Terms and Phrases employed in the Construction, ...of a Ship...derived from the text of the London 1780 edition published by Thomas Cadell, 2004 edn, South Seas, http://southseas.nla.gov.au/refs/falc/contents.html. [ Details ]

Created: 28 February 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000369

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