When the Balclutha towed to sea in the old days, twenty five sails were ready to set as soon as the tug let go the towrope. To handle this canvas a great deal of additional cordage was rove off - buntlines, leech-lines, clew garnets, halliard, downhauls - that were not in place when the vessel was in port and the sails stowed below decks. The amount of manila "running rigging" was visible on the ship in port (as now displayed) would be doubled when she put to sea.
This rope rigging was made fast to belaying pins located in the pintails along the ship's side and in the teak fireflies at the base of each mast, (The fiferail had its name because legendarily on men-of-war the ship's fifer and drummer perched here during court martial). A spider band about five feet up on the mast held other belaying pins to accommodate, in addition to cordage, the chain topsail sheets. The strain of this large large sail made chain instead of rope sheets necessary to control it, these passed through the rings visible on the fore part of the mast and then up to the spider band.
Each of the hundred and twenty-five or more "hauling ends" coming down the masts was made fast to its own particular belaying pin. This formula never varied from ship to ship as it enabled the sailors to always find the right rope no matter how dark the night.
Starting the tops'l sheets: Bark Kilmallier, 1918
"... destruction was so close at times that even yet I hold my breath a little when I think of the shrieking wind and the tremendous seas that were rolled into mountains. The bottom fell out of the barometer and the ship ran before the storm. Ca9t. Henry ordered all hands onto the poop and warned them that the ship might founder at any time."
"Fortunately, we had stripped down to a lower top'l some hours before the hurricane struck us, but even at that Capt. Henry felt that this was too much canvas. Twice during the two days the second mate, carpenter and an apprentice went to slack the main tops'l sheets. These were made 2 to 2 1/4 inch chain, coming down from the main yard amid ship, through fixed steel rings, and made fast criss-cross to the steal belaying pins on the mast ring.
"it needed a top maul to persuade those sheets to slack around the pins, such was the force of the wind on that famous tops'l. On the two occasions the sheets were slacked the ship responded by not burying herself so deeply as previously. She ran like a scared pig, "nose down and tail up," steered like a railway wagon, two men at the wheel night and day, and swinging two points either side of her course."