Sometimes, when visiting a famous monument, I find that what attracts me most is the visual. Take the Cutty Sark, one of the last tea clippers to be built on the Clyde in 1863 and now permanently on display at Greenwich. There’s something about the interconnected intricacy of the rigging and masts, together with the elegant shape of the ship’s hull, which I find aesthetically deeply satisfying.
From this angle, it looks like some futuristic butterfly, and the shape of that curving hull is just beautiful.
General view of the Cutty Sark
What I like about this photo is the way the ropes and masts are all connected, and every single rope has its own special job to do. You can just see one of the permanent rigging team beginning to climb the rope ladder. Later, I spoke to him and he told me that the rigging is constantly being repaired ‘like the Forth Bridge’.
I love seeing the Georgian buildings (now the Heritage Centre) through the rigging.
Just wandering round the ship offers more visual delights. I love these wooden buckets. Note how closely they fit the holes in the wooden shelf. They are works of art in themselves.
Poop ship’s bell
I like the variety of rope and string against the strong image of the brass bell. A huge amount of top quality rope is vital to the proper sailing of the tea clipper and I admire the netting with its neat ‘bannister’ edging of thicker rope.
The rigger I spoke to told me that there are dozens of possible knots that ropes can be tied in and each one has its own special job to do. Here you can see that each rope is carefully coiled and knotted both to hold securely but in such a way that it can be undone instantly with the minimum of fuss.
I love the way the tiller is exactly fit for purpose. Note the awning of sail above it to offer some shade or shelter to the helmsman.
Well, there we are; a quick visual tour round the rightly world famous Cutty Sark. It’s a wonderful place to visit, especially on a sunny day. www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark
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