August 20th, 2015 by Piper Smith
A deadeye is a thick, round, wooden disc used in the rigging of traditional sailing ships. Single-hole deadeyes, also known as “bull’s eyes”, are used to guide, control and change the direction of lines, Triple-hole deadeyes are used in pairs, with lines called lanyard strung between them. They function in a similar fashion to a block and tackle – using mechanical advantage to create greater tension wherever they are attached.
These deadeyes are made of wood from the Lignum Vitae tree, a particularly dense hardwood native to the Florida Keys. Prized for its weight and the natural self-lubricating qualities of its high resin content, Lignum Vitae has traditionally been used in the construction of maritime machinery – from pulleys to propeller-shaft bearings. The iron hardware attached to these deadeyes, salvaged from the wreck of the Isaac Allerton, was used to hold the rigging away from the ship’s rail to prevent friction.