Sails & Lines

The sign hanging on the front of this quarter-mile-long building reads "Sails & Lines, Outfitting Ships Since Their Arrival At Fellport". The well-worn and patched wooden building fills the space between the Cliffside Ramp and the wall on Level 2, leaving some room on the harbor side of the broad road for other structures. Sails & Lines has occupied this area for so long it gave the Hempenway its name. The building won't win any design or aesthetic awards, but it still stands and it suits its purpose of making ropes and sails at industrial scale.

The front has eighteen foot tall double doors hung on rails in the middle of the building to allow carts entry to the facility. Carts pull in and deliver huge bundles of hemp fiber to the spinning room, which produces giant spools of filament. The spools move to a cramped storage chamber to just barely fit on the shelves, sorted by length. The cordiers here can make rope in any size from quarter-inch light cord to three-quarters hauling rope to four-inch anchor line in any length up to 200 fathoms (1200 feet) by feeding filaments through a metal die and letting the water-powered machinery twist them into shape. Workers walk the newly formed rope down the ropewalk and close the ends at the desired length.

Some of the filaments go to the weaving room to the left of the main doors, where workers make canvas in ten-foot-wide lengths. The sheets get pulled up to the seam room that takes up the entire second floor, where they come together into strong canvas sails made to order for your particular ship. Sometimes the owner, Amos Dowd, allows a client to dye their sailcloth, but he makes sure they pay for the privilege. He works from the office space upstairs, but he usually wanders the floor to talk with his employees and keep connected to the daily workings of the business.

The old ropery shed still exists inside the main building on the left behind the weaving room, seeing occasional use for making shorter ropes during times of high demand. At less than half the length of the new building, it leaves plenty of room for an open space past the far end of the old shed, with tables used for lunches and an open pitch used for various games. Weavers vs Cordiers games of rugby and cricket keep almost everyone entertained and productive. Weavers tend to win cricket matches, but the slightly stronger Cordiers have the edge in rugby games. Everyone helps make the rope nets hanging between the pitch and the ropewalk, preventing both balls and zealous workers from crashing into the work machinery.

Dust and fibers fill the air when the machines form the ropes, which caused flash fires in the past. Sails & Lines maintains a contract with Elemental Solutions for an air elemental powered exhaust system to vent dirty air over the wall at the far end of the building, preventing destructive incidents since its installation.

Part of T.W.Wombat's #City23 project. See the Fellport Index for all entries.

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