from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The rope that controls the angle at which a mainsail is trimmed and set.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The rope connected to and controlling the mainsail.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. One of the ropes by which the mainsail is hauled aft and trimmed.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The sheet or rope used for securing the mainsail when set. See sheet.
- n. plural Collectively, all the sheets of the square sails on the mainmast, but especially the sheets which belong to the main course.
- n. In Jamaica, weak rum and water.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (nautical) a line (rope or chain) that regulates the angle at which a sail is set in relation to the wind
Sorry, no etymologies found.
The mainsheet is a multiple-part block and tackle used to increase an individual’s pulling power.
This necessitated frequent tacks, so that, overhead, the mainsail was ever swooping across from port tack to starboard tack and back again, making air-noises like the swish of wings, sharply rat-tat-tatting its reef points and loudly crashing its mainsheet gear along the traveller.
But he was deflected by the crash of the mainsheet blocks on the stout deck-traveller, as the mainsail, emptied of the wind and feeling the wind on the other side, swung crazily across above him.
He trotted across the level deck to Skipper, who, standing erect on wide-spread legs, the bight of the mainsheet still in his hand, was exclaiming:
Jump! he could hear Skipper shouting loudly; also he heard the high note of the mainsheet screaming across the sheaves as Van Horn, bending braces in the dark, was swiftly slacking the sheet through his scorching palms with a single turn on the cleat.
The Ghost swung around into the wind, and I finished my work forward in time to run aft and lend a hand with the mainsheet.
He knew already the empty windiness of its threats, but he was careful of the mainsheet blocks, and walked around the traveller instead of over it.
With clenched teeth sat the boat-steerer, grasping the steering oar firmly with both hands, his restless eyes on the alert -- a glance at the schooner ahead, as we rose on a sea, another at the mainsheet, and then one astern where the dark ripple of the wind on the water told him of a coming puff or a large white-cap that threatened to overwhelm us.
Tell him to slack off the mainsheet, and before you know it, he'd drop the peak.
The good news is that I was able to fix the little problem with the mainsheet block easily.