October 28th, 2007


Tall ship sailing theory

Don't think there's much time/place-relevant detail. Let's say the tall ships in the Golden Age of Sail.

Does anyone know any good resources that actually teach you how to sail a tall ship? I've found the Text-Book of Seamanship which is pretty damn nifty but from what I've seen is more focussed on telling you what to do rather than teaching theory (it does cover some theory, but not really enough). I mean something that goes into serious specifics, like--when would you rig all of your jibs but no square sails (and why)? How does it affect the ship's movement when you haul the spanker boom to windward? How does the wind change after passing the foremast? And other fiddly little things like that.

Tried searching "tall ship sailing theory", "sailing theory" + any number of obscure sail names (e.g. jib of jibs etc.), but I'm not really turning up any good hits (besides the textbook). In addition, I'm tolerably familiar with dinghy sailing, devour Patrick O'Brian, and have read the Wiki articles on sails and sail-plans...repeatedly. I'm just looking for something that'll collate the information and present it in a way that dunces like yrs truly can understand.

Much obliged.
portraits - default vampire

Fox hunting, mid-Victorian England

I'm writing a short mystery story located somewhere in England in November 1876 or thereabouts. I've got a few questions that I've had little luck researching (or got conflicting information on).

1) Which counties would be typical for fox-hunting in that age? Ones with non-standard local accents would be a plus (so that foreign characters might have trouble communicating), as well as dramatic/gothic scenery.

2) What type of people were invited to Victorian fox hunts? Peers of course, but also gentry? And other people (the local vicar, for example)?

3) How dense was this population? More to the point, supposing you encounter someone on a hunting horse in the middle of the night, would there be just one house close enough for him to come from without overnighting / tiring his horse, or would there be a choice of a few (or many)?

I've come across completely different information for all three of those, plus any search for fox hunting means digging through a ton of links about the banning laws.

Purchasing made-to-measure menswear

Hello everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what typically happens when you are ready to purchase a made-to-measure three-piece suit. To be more specific, the question I'm stalling on is whether, when you show up cash in hand ready to take the suit home with you, is there usually a final fitting before you walk out the door with the suit, or do you just pick up a finished product? (And if there is a final fitting, what sort of things are usually checked?) I've tried googling, to little avail. If it matters, the timeframe is the 1970s.

the classic doubletake, marty&docinparkinglot

Material for wire insulation in 1880's California

Here's my really weird question.

I'm writing a story set in California in the late 1880's. A scientist is making, er, something and is using copper wire (and electricity).

My strange question -- what did people use to coat copper wires and the like before plastics came out?

I've trolled around the 'net like mad (using terms like "insulation, wire, history, material" etc), but have not found anything that addresses that particular subject. Either I hear about old conductors or else the contemporary uses of plastics over wires to insulate them.

I swear people used to use fabric around wires -- having seen old wires in old buildings -- but maybe this is my imagination because it seems a tad unsafe to me. Anyone know the answer or what might reveal the answer? Thanks!
marvin on mars

Rule of Shotgun in Britain

So do people shotgun the seat next to the driver in Britain? By that I mean whoever is the first to yell "shotgun" while within visual range of the car gets to ride next to the driver. Are there any regional variants to the rule of shotgun, if it exists? (For instance, do you have to be on the correct side of the car? Can the driver call shotgun and choose? Is whoever is shotgun automatically in charge of the radio/ipod, or is that a separate shotgun?)

ETA: thanks, all! The whole discussion is interesting...