Located at the stern, this short deck takes its name from the Latin word puppis - which means after deck or rear. Guns were rarely carried on this deck. It was mainly used as a viewpoint and signalling platform. The poop deck also gave protection to the men at the wheel and provided a roof for the captain's cabin. The ropes controlling the yards (spars) and sails of the main and mizzen masts were operated from the poop deck.
On this Deck:
SIGNAL LOCKERS ~ STERN LANTERNS ~ SKYLIGHT
The signal locker sits at the stern edge of the poop deck. It contains the flags used in signalling both other ship and the shore. The Popham code the Royal Navy used meant that a small number of flags could be used to form approximately 6,000 words or sentences. For ease of use each flag had an allocated space within the locker, with spare flags stored on the row below.Stern lanterns:
The stern lanterns were lit at night so that the ships of a fleet could see each other's position. This was useful in keeping the ships in formation and helped to prevent them from colliding with each other. A door on the front of the lantern was used to light the lamps and whale oil was burnt to produce a bright light.Skylight:
In the middle of the poop deck is a skylight that was used to help light the captain's dining cabin. Positioned above the dining cabin, the skylight greatly added to the daylight provided by the cabins single window. Unfortunately anyone standing on the poop can see into the dining cabin. To provide privacy, wooden panels were fitted to runners in the cabin's deck head (ceiling) beneath the skylight. These could be slid closed when the cabin's occupants preferred not to be seen by anyone on the poop. They were also used to help darken the ship at night.