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Topsail

noun
1.
A sail (or either of a pair of sails) immediately above the lowermost sail of a mast and supported by a topmast.



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"Topsail" Quotes from Famous Books



... ship was La Surveillante, which means the watchful maid; She folded up her head-dress and began to cannonade. Her hull was clean, and ours was foul; we had to spread more sail. On canvas, stays, and topsail yards her bullets ...
— Ionica • William Cory (AKA William Johnson)

... 'twas a matter o' three years ago. I was bo'sun on the Swallow, a spanker she was, chartered by the Company, London to Calcutta. There was none of the doldrums that trip, dodged 'em fair an' square; a topsail breeze to the Cape, and then the fust of the monsoon to the Hugli. We lay maybe a couple of months at Calcutta, when what should I do but take aboard a full dose of the cramp, just as the Swallow was in a manner of speakin' on the wing. Not but ...
— In Clive's Command - A Story of the Fight for India • Herbert Strang

... "Mr. Johnson," he called to the first mate, who was a big blonde-haired Swede, "this young man wants to go aloft. Will you let him help your man take in that fore-topsail?" ...
— The Go Ahead Boys and the Treasure Cave • Ross Kay

... committed great depredations on the Spaniards. He took nineteen vessels, some of which were richly laden; and returning by the Cape of Good Hope, he came to London, and entered the river in a kind of triumph. His mariners and soldiers were clothed in silk, his sails were of damask, his topsail cloth of gold; and his prizes were esteemed the richest that ever had been ...
— The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I. • David Hume

... which naturally induced every man to look after himself without caring for his neighbour. We therefore could not expect, nor did we receive, any sympathy; we were in a scene of bustle and noise, yet alone. A spare topsail, which had been stowed for the present between two of the guns, was the best accommodation which offered itself. We took possession of it, and, tired with exertion of mind and body, were ...
— Jacob Faithful • Captain Frederick Marryat

... hove our ship to with the wind at sou'west, my boys; We hove our ship to for to strike soundings clear; It was forty-five fathom and a grey sandy bottom; Then we filled our main topsail, and ...
— Dawn • H. Rider Haggard

... midnight or a little later, and while some of Jack's men were aloft, for he had six with him, Jack, to his annoyance, heard a boat coming off from the shore, the men in her singing a chorus. The galliot was at that time just under steerage way, her topsail had been loosed and her jib hoisted, but the former had not been sheeted home, for the three men below could not, in the dark, find the ropes. The other three men were on the foreyard loosing the foresail, and Jack was undetermined whether to call them down immediately or to allow them ...
— Mr. Midshipman Easy • Captain Frederick Marryat

... by the friction of the main sheet that served as a pillow, raised his grizzly head, gave one look in the direction indicated, and sprang to his feet, shouting wildly, "On deck der! man yo' wedder fo' an' main, lee clew garnets an' buntlines, topsail halyards an' down-hauls, jib down-haul, let go an' haul!" his voice fairly rising in a shriek that, with the rattling of the jib as it came down, might have been ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, October 1885 • Various

... of a bright tropical afternoon that we made good our escape from the bay. The vessel we sought lay with her main-topsail aback about a league from the land, and was the only object that broke the broad ...
— Omoo: Adventures in the South Seas • Herman Melville

... sublime commotion over the bulwarks, when the ship rolled over on the side where I was sitting. The sea broke over our vessel repeatedly; it went over the top of the smoke pipe, and struck the fore-topsail in the middle but did, not hurt either of them. The fourth officer was washed out of his berth by a sea when he was asleep. One of the paddles broke, but in a very short time was replaced. One of the wheels was often entirely out of ...
— Travellers' Tales • Eliza Lee Follen

... aboard his own ship, while he put his lieutenant, Richards, to command Bonnet's vessel. The poor Major was most depressed by this undignified change in his affairs, until Blackbeard lost his ship in Topsail Inlet, and finding himself at a disadvantage, promptly surrendered to the King's proclamation and allowed Bonnet to reassume command of his own sloop. But Major Bonnet had been suffering from qualms of conscience latterly, so he sailed to Bath Town in North Carolina, where he, ...
— The Pirates' Who's Who - Giving Particulars Of The Lives and Deaths Of The Pirates And Buccaneers • Philip Gosse

... short hours they should be at home with their loved ones, his Genoese mate turned to him and said: "They are standing too much in-shore; the current will set them there." "They will soon have the land-breeze," replied Trelawney. "Maybe," said the mate, "she will soon have too much breeze; that gaff topsail is foolish in a boat with no deck and no sailor on board." Then he added as he pointed to the southwest, "Look at those black lines and dirty rags hanging on them out of the sky; look at the smoke on the water; the ...
— Stories of Authors, British and American • Edwin Watts Chubb

... casks, serving as buoys to keep it above water. A single spar stood up out of its centre, or "midships," to which was rigged—in a very slovenly manner—a large lateen sail,—either the spanker or spritsail of a ship, or the mizzen topsail of ...
— The Ocean Waifs - A Story of Adventure on Land and Sea • Mayne Reid

... degrees 10 minutes we began to meet with westerly winds, which freshened on us, and did not leave us till a little before we made the Cape. Sometimes it blew so hard that it put us under a fore-course; especially in the night; but in the daytime we had commonly our main topsail reefed. We met with nothing of moment; only we passed by a dead whale, and saw millions (as I may say) of sea-fowls about the carcass (and as far round about it as we could see) some feeding, and the rest flying about, or sitting on the water, waiting to ...
— A Voyage to New Holland • William Dampier

... cooking-dishes from the ship; there was a birth and a death, and occasional illness, besides the dire seasickness. John Howland, "the lustie young man," fell overboard but he caught hold of the topsail halyard which hung extended and so held on "though he was sundry fathoms under water," until he was pulled up by a rope and rescued by a boat-hook. [Footnote: Bradford's History of Plymouth ...
— The Women Who Came in the Mayflower • Annie Russell Marble

... and leaving his cabin when Jake returned. But neither high nor low, fore nor aft, could Tom be found, nor had he been seen since the main-topsail had ...
— Crusoes of the Frozen North • Gordon Stables

... now forces us to go west 14 miles, when we break through a long line of heavy brash mixed with large lumps and 'growlers' We do this under the fore-topsail only, the engines being stopped to protect the propeller. This takes us into open water, where we make S. 50 W. for 24 miles. Then we again encounter pack which forces us to the north-west for 10 miles, when we are brought up by heavy snow-lumps, brash, and large, loose floes. The character ...
— South! • Sir Ernest Shackleton

... be better for a lady or two Then, have we our theatre: Farce, comedy, and the buskin, take their turns to help along the time. You fellow, that you see lying on the fore-topsail-yard like an indolent serpent basking on the branch of a tree, will 'roar you as gently as any sucking dove!' And here is a votary of Momus, who would raise a smile on the lips of a sea-sick friar: I believe I can say no more ...
— The Red Rover • James Fenimore Cooper

... squalls, with a foul wind persistently pounding at her day after day, he had thought, as some more than ordinarily angry puff whitened the water to windward and broke him off his course, with the weather leech of his close-reefed topsail shivering, how pleasant it must be to be a landsman, to go where he pleased in spite of wind or weather. Ah! they were the happy ones, those lucky landsmen, who could always do as they chose, blow high, ...
— Stories of the Border Marches • John Lang and Jean Lang

... his orders for the blowing of winds and the touching off of lightnings. These orders are given in Low Dutch, and are put into execution by the imps aforesaid, who troop into the air and tumble about in the mist, sometimes smiting the flag or topsail of a ship to ribbons, or laying the vessel over before the wind until she is in peril of going on beam ends. At one time a sloop passing the Dunderberg had nearly foundered, when the crew discovered the sugar-loaf hat of the Heer at the mast-head. None ...
— Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete • Charles M. Skinner

... shot brought down the pirate's fore topsail-yard, which hung in the slings, and succeeding shots did much injury to her masts and rigging, and at length the main-topmast fell ...
— Graham's Magazine Vol XXXIII No. 4 October 1848 • Various

... Stream Camp, Major A. R. Dugmore Along the Mohawk Trail, Percy Keese Fitzhugh Animal Heroes, Ernest Thompson Seton Baby Elton, Quarter-Back, Leslie W. Quirk Bartley, Freshman Pitcher, William Heyliger Billy Topsail with Doctor Luke of the Labrador, Norman Duncan The Biography of a Grizzly, Ernest Thompson Seton The Boy Scoots of Black Eagle Patrol, Leslie W. Quirk The Boy Scouts of Bob's Hill, Charles Pierce Burton Brown Wolf and Other Stories, Jack London Buccaneers ...
— Tom Slade on Mystery Trail • Percy Keese Fitzhugh

... cannot build a Palace during the convulsions of an earthquake, and I sincerely hope our differences with America will be accommodated—if favourable terms we can grant them. Are not we constantly in storms obliged to take in our topsail?—and even sometimes limit ourselves to no sail at all? But our ship is saved by it and when the storm is over we out with them again, and so should the ...
— The Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope v. I. • A. M. W. Stirling (compiler)

... schooner's canvas was reduced smartly to merely a topsail and jib, the wind in which carried her close enough to Luiz Wharf for a line to be cast ashore. Tier upon tier of barrels of clams were stored under the open sheds, ready to be packed away in the Seamew's hold. Orion loudly ...
— Sheila of Big Wreck Cove - A Story of Cape Cod • James A. Cooper

... hauled upon the wind, and lying over, as it then seemed to me, nearly upon her beam ends. The heavy head sea was beating against her bows with the noise and force almost of a sledge-hammer, and flying over the deck, drenching us completely through. The topsail halyards had been let go, and the great sails filling out and backing against the masts with a noise like thunder. The wind was whistling through the rigging, loose ropes flying about; loud and, to me, unintelligible ...
— Two Years Before the Mast • Richard Henry Dana

... flannel shirt, and his white trousers were held by a blue silk scarf wound tightly round his narrow waist. He had come up only for a moment, but finding the poop shaded by the main-topsail he remained on deck bareheaded. The light chestnut hair curled close about his well-shaped head, and the clipped beard glinted vividly when he passed across a narrow strip of sunlight, as if every hair in it had been a wavy and attenuated gold wire. His mouth was lost in the heavy ...
— The Rescue • Joseph Conrad

... the pump and set to work like the indomitable seadogs that they were. They could not make her suck, but before they were utterly exhausted they reduced the water much, and then they cast themselves clear and began to prepare for the tide. They put the fore topsail on her, and then signalled for their own vessel. With a last effort they got one anchor, but, when Joe proposed trying the other, poor Billy groaned, "That's a pill enough for me, Joe; I shall die if we stand to it any more. Slip the other cable, boy." Joe agreed; ...
— The Chequers - Being the Natural History of a Public-House, Set Forth in - a Loafer's Diary • James Runciman

... his voice and hailed the ship. Immediately, the most magnificent fore-topsail-yard-ahoy voice I had ever heard bellowed a reply, "Ahoy, the boat! ...
— The Blood Ship • Norman Springer

... the apology of this worse than bestial vice. The higher Polynesian races, such as the Tahitians, Hawaiians, and Samoans, had one and all outgrown, and some of them had in part forgot, the practice, before Cook or Bougainville had shown a topsail in their waters. It lingered only in some low islands where life was difficult to maintain, and among inveterate savages like the New Zealanders or the Marquesans. The Marquesans intertwined man-eating with the whole texture of their ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 18 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... better information, "do worse." And at the same time he is full of interest in the small incidents of Nature around him, and notes, for instance, how a crow had built a nest and laid an egg in the poke of the topsail of the windmill. ...
— Essays in War-Time - Further Studies In The Task Of Social Hygiene • Havelock Ellis

... a "two-sticker". She was square-rigged on the foremast, carrying fore-topsail and fore-course. No jibs were set; neither, as far as he could see, was any sail set on the mainmast. The vessel's sides were painted green with a broad ...
— The Submarine Hunters - A Story of the Naval Patrol Work in the Great War • Percy F. Westerman

... Ellinwood from the wharf and beckoned so frantically that the big man swarmed up the rigging to the dock as though he were going aloft to reef a topsail in ...
— The Harbor of Doubt • Frank Williams

... A snow differed somewhat slightly from a brig. It had two masts similar to the fore and mainmasts of a brig or ship, and, close abaft the mainmast, a topsail mast. ...
— The Beginning Of The Sea Story Of Australia - 1901 • Louis Becke

... and purposes. I accomplished successfully the feat of going aloft; and one memorable day, assisted the riggers in "bending sails," and received an ill-natured rebuke from a crusty old tar, for my stupidity in failing to understand him when he told me to "pass the gasket" while furling the fore-topsail. Instead of passing the gasket around the yard, I gravely ...
— Jack in the Forecastle • John Sherburne Sleeper

... the mainmast we have, beginning below, main-yard, lower maintopsail-yard, upper maintopsail-yard, lower maintopgallantsail-yard, upper maintopgallantsail-yard, main royal-yard and skysail-yard; on the foremast we have the fore-yard, then the topsail-yards, topgallantsail-yards and royal; and on the mizzenmast we have a similar series of yards, beginning with the ...
— Golden Days for Boys and Girls, Vol. XIII, Nov. 28, 1891 • Various

... parsimonious calculations of their owners. The only way the heavier work can be done at all is by each man doing his utmost at the same moment. This is regulated by the song. And here is the true singing of the deep sea. It is not recreation; it is an essential part of the work. It mastheads the topsail yards, on making sail; it starts the anchor from the domestic or foreign mud; it 'rides down the main tack with a will;' it breaks out and takes on board a cargo; it keeps the pumps (the ship's, not the sailor's) going. A good voice and a new and stirring chorus are worth an extra ...
— The Continental Monthly, Volume V. Issue I • Various

... caught us, and made us heel a little; the men went to the weather side; the noise of talking water deepened. Soon the water creamed into brightness as we drove through it. They set the little main topsail—luggers were never very strictly ...
— Jim Davis • John Masefield

... upon them both to join with us in becoming friends, and in having on the last night in port a ripping jollification. I propose," said the peacemaker, "that we have some chanties, and that we start these aboard the vessel I belong to by hoisting the topsail ...
— The Shellback's Progress - In the Nineteenth Century • Walter Runciman

... scudding in a storm, tried to stand by them, heaving-to pluckily under their lee. The seas swept her decks; the men in oilskins clinging to her rigging looked at them, and they made desperate signs over their shattered bulwarks. Suddenly her main-topsail went, yard and all, in a terrific squall; she had to bear up under ...
— Falk • Joseph Conrad

... to a stern resolution of spending the remainder of their lives on this agreeable island; at any rate, they determined to sail no farther in our company. The captain was ashore, settling his accounts and receiving his papers; the chief-mate had given orders to loose the fore-topsail and weigh anchor; and we were all in the cuddy, quietly sipping our wine, when we heard three cheers and a violent scuffling on deck. In a few moments down rushed the mate in a state of delirious excitement, vociferating that the men were in open mutiny, and calling upon us, in the name of ...
— The Bushman - Life in a New Country • Edward Wilson Landor

... his crew, the admiral was saying nothing. The topsail and jib were spread, and the sloop glided out of the estuary. The large man and his companions had bestowed themselves with what comfort they could about the bare deck. Belike, the thing big in their minds had been their departure from that critical shore; and ...
— Cabbages and Kings • O. Henry

... Bend. Used aboard yachts for bending on the gaff topsail halliards. It consists of two turns around a spar or ring, then a half hitch around the standing part and through the turns on the spar, and another half hitch above ...
— Boy Scouts Handbook - The First Edition, 1911 • Boy Scouts of America

... instep; and I was obliged to gash them cruelly, which went to my very heart. The legs were quite long, coming a good way up toward my knees, and the edges were mounted with red morocco. The sailors used to call them my "gaff- topsail-boots." And sometimes they used to call me "Boots," and sometimes "Buttons," on account of the ornaments ...
— Redburn. His First Voyage • Herman Melville

... leagues east of the island of Madeira, a swallow* (* Hirundo rustica, Linn.) perched on the topsail-yard. It was so fatigued, that it suffered itself to be easily taken. It was remarkable that a bird, in that season, and in calm weather, should fly so far. In the expedition of d'Entrecasteaux, a common swallow was seen 60 leagues distant from Cape Blanco; but this ...
— Equinoctial Regions of America • Alexander von Humboldt

... the captain, "and yet, your Lordship, I must confess that Miss Grant is more in her place on the poop than reefing a topsail. But for all that, I am ...
— In Search of the Castaways • Jules Verne

... and exasperating music in the brain, till a man has the sensation of having a hurdy-gurdy in his head, though he may be working for his life, as Malipieri was. Yet the unchanging repetition makes the work easier, as a sailor's chanty helps at the topsail halliards. ...
— The Heart of Rome • Francis Marion Crawford

... occasion I started early and walked to the Gavia, or topsail mountain. The air was delightfully cool and fragrant; and the drops of dew still glittered on the leaves of the large liliaceous plants, which shaded the streamlets of clear water. Sitting down on a block of granite, it was delightful to watch the various insects and birds as they ...
— A Naturalist's Voyage Round the World - The Voyage Of The Beagle • Charles Darwin

... the Captain, in a tone of exultation. "With his mizen-topsail gone he will no longer be able to maintain so close a luff as ourselves, and within half-an-hour we shall be able to do ...
— A Middy of the King - A Romance of the Old British Navy • Harry Collingwood

... of breaking up the company and securing the money and the best of the effects for himself and some others of his companions he had most friendship for, and to cheat the rest. Accordingly, on pretense of running into Topsail inlet to clean, he grounded his ship, and then, as if it had been done undesignedly and by accident, he orders Hands' sloop to come to his assistance and get him off again, which he, endeavoring to do, ran the sloop on shore near the other, and so were both lost. This done, Teach goes into the ...
— Great Pirate Stories • Various

... my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to th' master's whistle.—Blow till thou burst ...
— The Tempest • William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]

... to deliberate. Ere he could think twice about it, a full-rigged ship, about five hundred tons, with a close-reefed topsail and a rag of a foresail upon her, came rushing, rolling, diving, and plunging on, apparently heading for the deadly white line of breakers which stretched into the sea at the end of ...
— The Recollections of Geoffrey Hamlyn • Henry Kingsley

... she stands the pressure till she gets to the cache, what of the cold and misery, she'll be stark, raving mad. Stand it? She'll be dumb-crazed. You know it yourself, Dick. You've wind-jammed round the Horn. You know what it is to lay out on a topsail yard in the thick of it, bucking sleet and snow and frozen canvas till you're ready to just let go and cry like a baby. Clothes? She won't be able to tell a bundle of skirts from a ...
— The God of His Fathers • Jack London

... bayonet. Of palmettos there are none that I know of in this immediate region, save the hundred or more on Sullivan's Island and the one or two exotics in the streets of Charleston. In the middle of the Ashley, which is here more than a quarter of a mile wide, lies anchored a topsail schooner, the nursery of the South Carolina navy. I never saw it sail anywhere; but then my opportunities of observation were limited. Quite a number of boys are on board of it, studying maritime matters; ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 7, Issue 42, April, 1861 • Various

... down to us, by which we may be able to send them a hawser with a bosun's chair and hauling lines attached. If it is not troubling you too much, perhaps you will kindly hail them and explain my intentions, presently. I shall shave athwart her stern, as closely as I dare, with my main-topsail aback, so that you may have plenty of time to tell them what, our plans are, and what we ...
— The Castaways • Harry Collingwood



Words linked to "Topsail" :   fore-topsail, main-topsail, canvas, fore-and-aft topsail, sheet, sail, canvass



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