Foremast up

Fall morning in the shipyard.


We work in a beautiful place.

The day after the bowsprit was installed, the foremast went into the boat. The riggers were up until late getting everything ready, and back at it before dawn.


Here’s Sarah putting a final coat of pine tar on the rigging where it loops around the mast. You may recall that there were metal wear plates set into the squared area of the mast just above the top? This is why. The plates keep the rigging from digging into and crushing the wood.

The workmanship on this rigging is impressive. Easy to forget that there’s wire rope buried within all of those layers of protection.


There’s a lot of background work that goes into lifting a mast. When it works, nothing particularly interesting or noteworthy happens. That’s exactly what we want, a simple, uneventful stepping. So, to make sure that nothing “interesting” happened, everything was carefully set up, laid out, and checked.

Photo credit: Kane Borden

Photo credit: Kane Borden

A crowd gathered for the event.


Photo credit: Kane Borden

But despite the growing crowd, the setup proceeded steadily and carefully.

Photo credit:  Kane Borden

Photo credit: Kane Borden

The mast and associated top and rigging is quite heavy, so we marked where we thought the extra weight would move the boat down.

Photo credit:  Kane Borden

Photo credit: Kane Borden

Museum president Steve White said a few words before things really got going,

Photo credit:  Kane Borden

Photo credit: Kane Borden

and the grandson of a former Museum president placed a 1941 silver dollar on the mast step.

Photo credit:  Kane Borden

Photo credit: Kane Borden


1941 was chosen because that was the year that the Morgan came up river to the Seaport.  The Mizzen will get a 2013 coin (relaunch date) and the Main will get an 1841 (original launch date) coin.

The lift and stepping went smooth as silk.

Just before the mast met the step, Rob and Matt slathered the area with Anchor Seal. This is a waxy waterproofing product that will help preserve the wood in this rot-prone area.


Photo credit: Kane Borden


Photo credit: Kane Borden


We were happy (and relieved) that the angles lined up just right, and she fit onto the step like a glove.


Photo credit: Kane Borden

The standing rigging was temporarily attached to the chain plates.


Photo credit: Kane Borden


Photo credit: Kane Borden


Later on everything will be permanently fastened.

So, there we go. Another successful spar installation.


Photo credit: Kane Borden

Hats off to the riggers for a flawless job.

The stock for the jibboom is in the shop, as well as the old spar. Scott and Matt bring the old spar in with the fork truck.


The two spars next to each other.


And work begins. Trev has laid out the shape of the taper and starts with vertical saw cuts.

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Slowly shaping it, one side at a time. The new spar in the middle ground is the new main t’gallant from Washington.


He uses the circular saw to cut along his curved line, as well as making the cross-cuts.


This make stock removal easier. You can see here that some sections of wood fall off without any more effort on his part. He’ll need to use a slick to remove the wood near the center of the spar that the saw couldn’t reach.


Cutting along the line also helps to create a fair curve for later planing.

Walt has finished the mizzen heel,


and Eric from Thavenet Machine Co in Pawcatuck RI has made a hoop to prevent the end from splitting.


All of our spars get hoops like this, particularly at the ends. This helps to prevent splitting.

Eric, Walt, and Alex installed the futtock band and connected it to the cross trees the other day.


The ring fittings with the lignum vitae cores are called Bullseyes.

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Sean has built the Jackstay (looks like a hand rail) that goes along the face of the mast. The sail will be attached here.


Once the trees the the rods connecting them to the futtock band were painted, Matt, Alex and Sean pulled the whole assembly downwards before tightening the futtock band.

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The main topmast trees needed replacing. The old ones,


and the replacement (in process).


Matt (another one, not the rigger!) continues to work on the flying rails (also called gammon knee brace) that support the gammon knee.


Here it is on the boat.


Jon, also working at the bow, is finishing up the bolster that the starboard hawsepipe protrudes through.


Here he’s roughing out the hawse hole.


Getting there.


Jamie, Ryan and Scott recently dusted off the resaw bandsaw (a large bandsaw designed specifically for resawing wood) to cut some decking for the mechanical platform in the hold. This is a great machine.

Bob has been making steady progress on the platform supports down in the hold.


Nice and straight…


You can see that he’s marked the intersection of the platform with the curving, sloping ceiling planking.

and Tich has been steadily rewiring the entire ship.


Barry and Stan have been making up new deadeyes from lignum vitae and locust. Lignum vitae is very hard to find, but it’s the ideal wood for this application. It’s dense (one of the densest woods known), durable, and self-lubricating. It has been used for machine bearings and policemen’s truncheons. Locust is also quite durable, but not as heavy. People are often familiar with it as a fencing wood since it is highly rot resistant.

Here’s one of the older, worn out deadeyes that they’ll be replacing.


This is one of the new lignum turnings, in process.


And some of the locust billets.


As you can see, even though the ship has been in the water since July, there’s a huge punch list to be dealt with.

More soon.