The evidence of Charles MacLean
Transcription of the evidence of Charles MacLean given at the enquiry into the sudden of death of a fishing crew from Mannal in 1860.
Courtesy of Argyll & Bute Archives
In April 1860 two fishing skiffs, one from Mannal and one from Balephuil, were out near Stevenson’s Rock, twenty kilometres to the south-west of Tiree. Both boats were rigged with dipping lugs which require considerable skill when tacking in heavy seas.
In windy weather there is the danger that too much sail will cause the boat to heel over and be swamped. This is apparently what happened to the Mannal boat which was not seen again after leaving the fishing grounds in the early morning.
Lugsails are shortened by lowering the yard and taking in reefs, i.e. hooking the sail to the bow at a point further up the luff (the leading edge of the sail) and tying the excess sail with reefs (cords attached to both sides of the sail). A lugsail may have four to six rows of reefs depending on its size.