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William Falconer's Dictionary of the MarineReference Works
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VAN to VEER away the cable



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VEERING, (virer vent arriere, Fr.) the operation by which a ship, in changing her course from one board to the other, turns her tern to wind-ward. Hence it is used in opposition to tacking, wherein the head is turned to the wind, and the tern to leeward.

Plate 10

Plate XI

Thus the ship A, fig. 8. plate XI. having made the necessary dispositions to veer, bears away gradually before the wind, till it blows obliquely upon the opposite side; which was formerly to leeward, as at a; and as the tern necessarily yields to this impression of the wind, assisted by the force of the helm, and the action of the waves upon the same quarter, the side which was formerly to leeward soon becomes to windward, as in the point a.

Since, by this movement, a ship loses ground considerably more than by tacking, it is rarely practised except in cases of necessity or delay: as, when the violence of the wind and sea renders tacking impracticable; or when her course is slackened to wait for a pilot, or some other ship in company, &c.

It has been observed in the article TACKING, that the change of motion in any body, will be in proportion to the moving force impressed, and made according to the right line in which that force operates. Hence it is evident, that veering as well as tacking is a necessary consequence of the same invariable principle; for as, in the latter, almost the whole force of the wind and of the helm are exerted on the hind part of the ship, to turn the prow to windward so in the former, the same impression, assisted by the efforts of the helm, falls upon the prow, to push it to leeward; and the motion communicated to the ship mutt in both cases necessarily conspire with the action of the wind.

Thus, when it becomes necessary to veer the ship, the sails towards the tern are either furled, or brailed up, and made to shiver in the wind; whilst those near the head are spread abroad, so as to collect the whole current of air which their surfaces can contain. Hence, while the whole force of the wind is exerted on the fore part of the ship to turn her about, its effect is considerably diminished, or altogether destroyed, on the surfaces of the after-sails. The fore part accordingly yields to the above impulse, and is put in motion; and this movement, conspiring with that of the wind, pushes the ship about as much as is necessary to produce the effect required. When she is turned so that the wind will act upon that quarter which was formerly to leeward, as at the point a, fig. 8. her circular motion will be accelerated by extending some of the sails near the stern, as the mizen, and by placing those at the prow more obliquely, which will wheel the vessel round with her bow to the windward ; in the same situation, with regard to the wind, as when close-hauled, or tacking.

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© Derived from Thomas Cadell's new corrected edition, London: 1780, page 306, 2004
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