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SPLICE THE MAINBRACE - ORIGIN

Monday May 2nd, 2011
SPLICE THE MAINBRACE

The order to issue a ship’s crew with a drink stems from one of the hardest emergency repair jobs in the history of sailing. Brace’s are the ropes that are used control the angle of the yards and are essential for steering a vessel.

During battle gunners would target an enemy ship’s rigging to disable it. If the mainbrace was hit it was often necessary to repair it during the conflict. This was left to the most experienced able seamen because it was the largest section of running rigging and could not be fixed with knots as it had run through blocks. If it wasn’t repaired the ship could not be manoeuvred. Splicing the thick hemp was strenuous work at the best of times and once the job was done the crew members involved were repaid with an extra ration of rum (around a third of a pint).

Inevitably the phrase ‘Splice the Mainbrace!’ became a euphemism for having a drink.
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