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Language: jargon: sailing

Bitt or Sampson Post: Naut.

  1. A timber or paired timbers on the foredeck connected to the boat's structure used to secure the heel of the bowsprit, the mooring warp, the windlass, or towing warps.

A bitt is sorely lacking on most modern boats. Usually one or two large timbers on the foredeck, carefully tied into at least one deck beam and the deadwood or stem knee, spreading the load through partners or deck strongback.

The bitts may be used to secure the heel of the bowsprit, usually by cutting a tenon and securing with one or two pins passed through bitts and bowsprit athwartships. As a structural support, the bitts are an excellent point to secure a towing bridle without risking damage from too much force. Likewise, anchor rodes, whether chain, hawser, or cable, should be secured to the bitts.

Because of the sheer strength of the structure, the anchor windlass (if fitted) will be found attached to or near the bitts.

Where hawser or line will be bent, the corners of the bitts should be rounded. Capping the bitts with sheet copper or brass will help prevent checking.

  • Chappelle, Howard I.; Boatbuilding: A complete handbook of wooden boat construction; W. W. Norton & Co.; © 1941 W. W. Norton & Co.; ISBN 0 393 03113 6
  • Classic Marine; Bitts & Bobs(tays): Bowsprits and their Associated Fittings; http://www.classicmarine.co.uk/Articles/Bowsprits.PDF

Bitts (?), n. pl. [Cf. F. bitte, Icel. biti, a beam. 87.] Naut.

A frame of two strong timbers fixed perpendicularly in the fore part of a ship, on which to fasten the cables as the ship rides at anchor, or in warping. Other bitts are used for belaying (belaying bitts), for sustaining the windlass (carrick bitts, winch bitts, or windlass bitts), to hold the pawls of the windlass (pawl bitts) etc.


© Webster 1913.

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