I am reading a story (alt history) where it describes climbing on a ship with the sailors:

pausing to clip their safety harnesses to the ratlines every few feet.

Now, I used to work on a tallship, and train people to go aloft. One of the things we utterly stressed was never to do this. Don't even put your hands on ratlines, only feet. Clips need to go to secured points and safety lined. Even if someone was doing something dodgy and clipping to something not rated (which of course noone ever did), the ratlines were one of the last possible choices.

As I understand it, historically there were no clipping on at all while climbing. And before that none at all ever. And in the modern day, there are safety lines with moving ascenders and you don't clip to ratlines.

Was there an in between period, where people would clip to ratline, take a few steps, and clip to the next?

  • 3
    I've read a fair amount of naval texts from the Age of Sail and I've never seen any mention of this activity. Quite possibly this is an author who learned a few naval terms for flavour and didn't do much research beyond that.
    – Steve Bird
    Oct 11, 2020 at 17:45
  • 2
    Which book is it from, what era, nation, and type of ship?
    – Schwern
    Oct 12, 2020 at 1:18
  • 1
    @LyndonWhite Practices are not uniform. The era, nation, and type of ship would help to narrow down the investigation. The author would let us check if they're just full of it in general.
    – Schwern
    Oct 12, 2020 at 18:26
  • 1
    @SamuelRussell, fictional ships can inspire questions about history, keep open.
    – Mark
    Oct 13, 2020 at 3:39
  • 1
    @samuel I don't want to know about fictional ships. That's what I have been saying. I want to know about practices on any historical ship. The fictional ship just got me interested. Oct 13, 2020 at 8:20


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