Terminology from the Age of Sail

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Search result for definition: ways
Ways: Beds of timber blocks sloping toward the water which supported the sliding ways of the cradle holding the ship. Large timbers called Ground-ways were sunk into the ground on top of which timber keel blocks were laid. At launch time, the launching ways were greased to facilitate smooth sliding of the hull into the water. Think of it as a giant sled, holding the ship up and in position while the whole thing slid over wooden blocks into the water. Not always with great success, some ships slid right under the water while others are known to have capsized soon after launch.
See also our 3D Launching ways model
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