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Cable was large, strong rope, usually made of three strands of rope twisted together, used to anchor a ship in a road or bay. Cables were named according to which anchor they were attached.

In the mid-eighteenth century, naval regulations specified that a ship’s cable should be at least one hundred and twenty fathoms in length. This was to protect the ship when it was forced to ride at anchor in stormy weather. If the anchor was attached to a short cable, it fell away from the ship at a steep angle and could easily loosen its grip on the seabed as the ship rode up and down on high waves.

Alternatively, if the anchor held fast, the ship would not ride easily and in severe weather risked having its foreparts submerged.

By running more horizontally from the ship to the anchor, a longer cable could bear a greater force. This allowed the ship to ride more easily and stopped the anchor dragging across the seabed.

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-P000371

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