One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Small ropes that are led from the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to pulleys on the mast for temporarily furling it.
- ‘It was too late to pause, however, and the sheet was slowly eased off, Jack hauling on the brail at the same time.’
- ‘As with the brails and sheets, there is no need to trim the scolaringe.’
- ‘For approaches, landings, and getting the sail out of the way while rowing, let go the sheet and haul on the brail.’
verb[WITH OBJECT]brail a sail up
Furl a sail by hauling on brails.
- ‘I would haul the mizen up, and the mizen stay-sail down, or brail it up, hard a weather the helm, shiver the mizen top-sail, let go the main and main-top bowlines, ease off the main sheet, the lee main brace, and round in the weather brace.’
- ‘Large sprit rigs leave the sprit standing, and the sail is furled by brailing it up to the mast and headrope.’
Late Middle English: from Old French braiel, from medieval Latin bracale ‘girdle’, from braca ‘breeches’.
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