Started Sailing

French Cog Ship In 1310

by Francesca
(LA area, CA, USA)

Yes - - another writer with a question :-D


Would the French cog in 1310 have had any laddered rigging, and where?

(I've seen pictures on the net, but often there's no specific year date on most of them, and
I have seen what've been labeled as "cog," with a crow's nest, or something that looks like one, with rope ladder/s behind the sail up to the top.)

Would there have been rope ladders up to either platform at stern or bow, or more secure-built of wood?

Had oars been done completely away with by 1310, with use of a rudder?

Would you describe the rolling/stowing of the sail?

It's for a dream sequence, so I have a little leeway, but I'd like to know how close or far off my imaginings have been. And I would, ultimately, like to get it right.

Thank you.

Wow. What a site. And yes, if this thing gets published, you'll be listed. Right now the writing is its own challenge.

Thanks for reading.

Comments for French Cog Ship In 1310

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Mar 06, 2011
It seems to be time to open a writer's forum 8-D!
by: Han

Hi Francesca,

While you're probably still slumbering in the early hours of the California morning, I start to think about an apéritif in the early Brittany evening; now back to the 14th century.

You probably did not yet read the article in my History of Sailing Blog (which should be read before digging up answers on the forum) on the differences between cog and nef; if so, here's the link:

Your time-setting makes it possible that some of the technical advantages of the cog were copied by the nef-builders, but I feel a big aversion against using the word cog for an French (=, at that time, Anglo-Norman) ship. So, if only to please me, say nef.

At the time, and ever since, the crow's nest was reached by climbing the shrouds (keeping the mast up) with the help of rat-lines (tied at right angles to the shrouds; assembled they look like rope-ladders). The fore- and aft-castles were reached by wooden ladders.

There is no way to be sure when exactly the stern-rudder, introduced on the cog, replaced the side-rudder, nor when oars were sent to the museum as old-fashoned; so here you can use your lee-way.

The sail had two rows of reef-lines; they were used to lessen the effective sail-area when the wind became too strong. While the yard was lowered, the sail was folded from the bottom up and then bound with the reef-lines. For the second reef the procedure was repeated, and to stow the sail they tied it to the completely lowered yard which was then hoisted parallel to the mast.

Maybe of interest for you, the description of the oldest ship-model known: a Mediterranean nef from the early 14th century:

Hope to have satisfied your curiosity,



Mar 19, 2011
Thank you
by: Francesca

Thanks, Han,
Will check the links, and use the word "nef." :-D
Your care and attention in appreciated.

Slainte', Francesca

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