The slits are so cut, that, when the raft is in motion, the edges of these planks shall meet the water. It is clear, that if both the guaras be thrust quite down, and held fast in a perpendicular direction, they will offer a broad surface towards the side, and thus, by acting like the leeboards of a river-barge, or the keel of a ship, prevent the balsa from drifting sidewise or dead to leeward.
Of course they could not beat to windward with them, but they could sail with a considerable slant, and they prevented the boats, while thus advancing, from making much leeway by means of deep leeboards, such as are used even at the present day by Dutch ships.
Old Captain Stephens broke out in a string of nautical ejaculations, which need not be printed in full. "Look at that!" he cried. "Talk about sailors! See 'em go! They wouldn't reef a point if they could and I guess they can't, for they seem to have a board or something for a sail. And they've got leeboards down. They've got two oars out for steering-gear. By the great horn spoon!
The order was at once given to haul on the regulators and coil up the towing lines. It was promptly obeyed, but before a few fathoms had been coiled in, the kites again became as steady as before, with this change, however, that they travelled in a north-westerly direction. The value of the leeboards now became apparent.
Their course for the first two miles was dead to windward; but the raft sailed remarkably near the wind, and held her own even better than her designer had believed to be possible the long, flat sides of the two pontoons seeming to act the parts of leeboards, and so preventing her from making any perceptible leeway.
Here you may behold them with unwearied bodies rigging of their Masts, spreading of their Sails, hailing up their Spreet and Leeboards, and all in a sweat catching hold of the Oars to be rowing, whilest at home they are too weak or lazy to move or stir the least thing in the World, nay can hardly bring pen to paper.