Pole mast

Times were when gaff-rigged boats had short masts, upon which Topmasts could be set. In heavy weather the Topsail was not wanted and the topmast was ‘Sent down’ to the deck, making a tiring and irksome job for one of the hands. But there came a time when some bright chap decided to have a single mast as long as main and topmast together, though with the gaff going no higher than before. That was the pole mast, and when no topsail was set and the bare upper end of the mast was left naked, the boat would be described as ‘bald-headed’.