The final weeks leading up to the trip down river really were a steady, hard push. In chronological order:
Early in the month, the Pilots spent a weekend at the Seaport helping with all manner of projects. They painted anchors,
built floating docks,
worked on Roann’s dory,
cleaned everywhere in preparation for the trip down river,
repainted the lift dock control house,
and much more that I didn’t have time to photograph. This was just one of many work days that they contribute in support of the Museum and we’re all immensely grateful for their help.
During that same weekend (1 week out from the trip), Alex worked on the forestay,
and Roger worked on the swinging brackets that hold the whaleboats.
Scott, Ryan and Matt dove on the boat to attach copper plates below the waterline that connect to the lighting rod cables. You can see a cable running down the hull in the second photo. Bolting a heavy plate to a curved hull underwater is a very tough job. When you’re floating, pushing against the plate to fasten it results in you pushing yourself away from the boat. This was a two hour dive, and everyone was cold and exhausted afterwards.
In the final week, the anchors were hung from the catheads.
The spanker boom was brought on board and installed.
The spanker boom connects to the mizzen (aft most) mast and goes over the hurricane house.
Nathan finished up the new try works cover.
Bob converted the old vegetable bin into life preserver storage.
The mattresses arrived!
In the fo’c’sle
Trev fit the doors to the crew heads.
The shore power connectors were finished up and well-hidden in the bulwarks.
Even though it looks like Sarah and Haley were taking a break, they were hard at work splicing. Such a nice day though, a shame to waste it by being inside.
Painting was going on all over the place. Here, Susan and Jerry work on the bulwarks back at the starboard quarter.
The push bracket was built by our friends at Thavenet Machine Co in Pawcatuck. Definitely Not Original Equipment, but necessary for the tug to have a place to push us.
The new custom gangways arrived!
The beautiful new whaleboat built by the folks at Beetle (the same company that built whaleboats in the 1800’s) arrived.
They still use the same burned-in stamp that they always have in lieu of a builder’s plate.
This is the builder’s plate for the Great Lakes Boatbuilding School, for instance.
They built this beautiful whaleboat for us:
Speaking of whaleboats, Chris built this second book shelf for the nav station. That’s the silhouette of a whaleboat… beautiful work.
Both installed in the nav station:
Speaking of… the nav station is tucked away so that the array of new navigation and communications gear is hidden from view. The folks at Raymarine donated this equipment!
The name on the upper bulwarks was gold leafed. The final trim painting hasn’t been finished here, so the edges look a bit rough.
Three days before the move, she was brought out around to the end of the lift dock, and spun to face down river.
It was a good day to be a visiting school group! You don’t get to see this every day.
Lots of coordinated pushing and line handling from the dock.
And by lunch, she was all set with the new gangway set up.
Back to work!
Gary Anderson brought in the new eagle that he’s carved and gold-leafed for the transom.
It’s one of the most impressive pieces of work I’ve ever seen.
It was carefully loaded onto a floating scaffold and brought out the to boat. Earlier, Rob had predrilled all of the mounting holes to make the installation go smoothly.
It looks amazing.
Thirty minutes later, the tug came by to do the first test with the new pushing bracket.
That didn’t stop John from installing boat skids.
Bill, the ship’s engineer, has been working long hours on the many systems the provide fresh water and dispose of waste and waste water. It looks like a maze of pipes and wires down in the hold, but each unit is actually quite straightforward when taken singly. The whole can be overwhelming.
The bunks in the fo’c’sle were finished up with privacy curtains. Nice work.
Two days before departure. She’s really looking like a ship.
The diesel pump is working very well.
Special bolsters were made to cover exposed bolt heads at the towing bracket. These heads can (and did) puncture the inflatable craft we use as push boats.
Loads of rope have been brought aboard to finish up the rigging in New London.
(photo credit: Holly David)
The crew’s head was installed up forward along the port rail.
No, we don’t be using it since it dumps right over the side of the boat.
Finally, the 17th. The forecast had been predicting 100% chance of rain for days, but by 8 am, the skies were bright blue.
A nice-sized crowd gathered to hear short but heartfelt speeches,
and with great fanfare, she was off.
Back down through the bridge…
At this point, there are tons of far better photos online and at at the Seaport’s website of her underway. What’s hard to describe is just how powerful it felt to be going down river with cheering, excited crowds all along the way. For all of us, and particularly those of us who have worked on this boat, it was surprisingly moving and profound. It’s a rare thing to get to work on a vessel that is so connected to this many people. It meant a lot to see everyone come to celebrate the start of this voyage. It was a big, joyful parade all the way down the river.
We made great time, and were in New London by 1 pm. A big crowd was on hand for the arrival.
We took a day off, but on Monday, it was time to add ballast.
50+ Tons of steel bar, neatly stacked in 1 ton pallet loads.
For the next two days, we stacked and moved this into the hold on top of the lead and concrete block previously laid down.
Hat’s off to Jamie, who crawled down into the tight spaces below the aft platform and fit 60# bars into otherwise inaccessible areas. He’s a trooper. He’s the Man.
With the ballast in and distributed, we can now focus on a raft of other smaller projects.
Fitting extra bracing behind the towing bracket to help us sleep at night.
Prepping whale boat spars.
and fixing old ones.
Building little boxes to hold equipment (in this case, the emergency defibrillator).
Bob built a second set of stairs for accessing the hold.
All of the ballast now gets locked into place with plywood and shores to keep it from shifting.
The crew is on board now, and working long hours on the rig. We have a big punch list as well and I’ll try to get photos of these projects as they progress. The pace has settled down considerably from the big push earlier, but it’s still steady.
We’ll be at City Pier in New London until June 14th. The ship will be open to visitors on the weekends. If you’d like to stop by during the week, you can see her from the pier and there is an interpreter there to answer questions. The crew does sail training most afternoons, and it’s quite something to see them aloft setting and taking in sail.