The king had agreed to dine that June afternoon aboard the ninety-gun Barfleur, and as he clambered to the weather deck, sailors hoisted his royal standard to the main topmast head. . . .
More than two thousand mature oaks had been felled to build a ship like this, the biggest, most complex machine in the eighteenth-century world, the steam engine and spinning jenny be damned. The king admired the massive oak balks, the knees chopped from tree forks, the thick planks wider than a big man's handspan, the gun decks painted bright red to lessen the psychological shock of blood spilled in battle. Twenty or more miles of rope had been rigged in a loom of shrouds, ratlines, stays, braces, and halyards. Masts, yards, spars, tops, and crosstrees rose overhead in geometric elegance. Even at anchor this wooden world sang, as timbers pegged and jointed dovetailed and mortised, emitted creaks, groans, and squeals. Belowdecks, where each sailor got twenty-eight inches of sleeping width for his hammock, the powder monkeys wore felt slippers to avoid creating sparks in the magazine. The smells of tar, hemp, pine pitch, and varnish, mingled with the brine of bilgewater and vinegar fumigant and the hog-lard pomade the sailors used to grease their queues. All in all, it was the precise odor of empire.
–Rick Atkisson, The British are Coming (2019), p. 7.Besides the 20 miles of rope, the sails of such a ship had a total area of about 6,500 square yards, (5,430 sq m), which is about 4 acres.