Mainchains

Mainchains were the shrouds for the main mast. With their woven rigging and large wooden blocks rising above the rail, they made a handy place to begin climbing the shrouds. The shrouds were lashed together at the top and separated at the base by a distance of several feet,. To prevent them from twisting, and to offer a method for ascending to the top of the mast, smaller lines of rope were strung horizontally across the shrouds, forming a ladder of what were known as “ratlines.”

The photo shows Amsterdam’s chains for all three vertical masts – the triangular sets of ropes beginning below the rail, just above the gun deck here, and travel upwards and inwards to the mast attachment points.
The Amsterdam's stern gallery

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