Two six heave
"Two, six, heave" is a phrase used to coordinate seamen's pulling. It derives from the orders used in firing shipboard cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

s in the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. The team of six men had numbered roles. After loading, it was the task of the men numbered two and six to heave (in a coordinated fashion) the cannon out the gunport for firing, using simple effort for a light cannon or a tackle
Block and tackle
A block and tackle is a system of two or more pulleys with a rope or cable threaded between them, usually used to lift or pull heavy loads.The pulleys are assembled together to form blocks so that one is fixed and one moves with the load...

 apiece for larger ones. Shanties
Sea shanty
A shanty is a type of work song that was once commonly sung to accompany labor on board large merchant sailing vessels. Shanties became ubiquitous in the 19th century era of the wind-driven packet and clipper ships...

 not being countenanced in the Royal Navy, "two, six, heave" was pressed into service whenever seamen needed to pull in a coordinated fashion, such as braces
Braces (sailing)
The braces on a square-rigged ship are lines used to rotate the yards around the mast, to allow the ship to sail at different angles to the wind....

 and halyards.

In Britain it has a broader meaning and is often used in any situation where a coordinated pulling effort is required, often where maritime people are involved, but almost as frequently where 'civilians' are working together.

As used by sailors, the person at the front of the team will typically call out the "two, six" part of the chant. During this phase all members move their hands up the line ready to pull. This is followed, in its natural rhythm, by the "heave", called out by the whole team together. At this moment, the team simultaneously lean back on the line, and use their leg muscles to exert a powerful pull upon it. This coordination takes some practice to achieve, but the difference in applied power between a raw group pulling as individuals and a practiced team hauling together is very significant.

There is not a single tempo or cadence for the chant, since this will depend on the task in hand. For example, hauling in the upper topsail halyard will require a long, heavy pull; if the team is not to be exhausted halfway through then the leader must ensure that the pace is slow enough to be maintained throughout the job. Hauling in a clewline
Clewlines and buntlines
For the revolver, see Colt BuntlineClewlines and buntlines are lines used to handle the sails of a square rigged ship.Although the common perception of a traditionally rigged ship is that the sails are handled from "up in the rigging", the majority of the work is actually carried out from the deck...

, by contrast, is relatively quick and easy, so the chant can be quite rapid. It is also not always necessary to use this method of hauling for the whole of a task; often, the first part of the job can be achieved with simple hand-over-hand pulling, switching over to a coordinated heave for the final tensioning.

After a line on a ship has been hauled taut, it will usually be secured to a belaying pin
Belaying pin
A belaying pin is a device used on traditional sailing vessels to secure lines of rigging. Their function on modern vessels has been replaced by cleats, but they are still used, particularly on square rigged ships....

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.