CABLE, noun cabl. A large strong rope or chain, used to retain a vessel at anchor. It is made usually of hemp or iron, but may be made of other materials. Cables are of different sizes, according to the bulk of the vessel for which they are intended, from three to twenty inches in circumference. A cable is composed of three strands; each strand of three ropes; and each rope of three twists. A ships cable is usually 120 fathom, or 720 feet, in length. Hence the expression, a cables length.
Stream cable is a hawser or rope, smaller than the bower cables, to moor a ship in a place sheltered from wind and heavy seas.
To pay out, or to veer out the cable is to slacken it that it may run out of the ship.
To serve the cable is to bind it round with ropes, canvas, etc., to prevent its being worn or galled in the hawse.
To slip the cable is to let it run out end for end.