One month until Go Time

The Morgan leaves for New London on Saturday, March 17th around 9 am. Needless to say, we’ve been pretty busy. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve been up to lately.

Walt found rot in some frames in one of the whale boats a while back. in fact, this was one that he had built with his father Will around 10 years ago.

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The cause was probably an accumulation of dirt and dust that had blown into the boat over the years while it was stored outside. The dirt held moisture below the sole boards and made a rich biome for mold to grow. The frames are trapped between the hull and the thwart riser (the long strake that goes fore and aft around seat height), and this makes removing the entire frame difficult. Since the damage is confined to the lower sections of the frames, Walt’s solution was to replace only the lower sections of the damaged frames. He removes the fasteners in the areas where the frame sections are to be removed.


Some of the lower forward frames have been removed here.


We still had the frame bending form built by Bill Sauerbrey back when this boat was built. All of the frames in this boat were bent on this exact form, so it’s a no-brainer to use it when replacing the frames. Walt set up a steam box

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and with the help of Gary and Pete, bent a number of new white oak frames.


The new frames are sistered in next to the old ones.

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All the old fastener holes get plugged.


A new coat of paint,


and the sole and ceiling can go back in.

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A few posts ago I showed the work that Dean and Nathan were doing on the main t’gallent and mizzen topmasts. I left off where Nathan was 8-siding the mizzen topmast. His spar is in the background here, and you can see the facets as he’s working. Dean’s main t’gallent is in the foreground, and you can see the rectangular shiv box in the white section.


By the way, here’s a nifty tool modification that Dean made for sanding the inside of the shiv boxes.


It’s a sawzall with a block of wood attached to the blade. Sandpaper is attached to the block, and when the sawzall is turned on, it moves back and forth quite rapidly. It’s an awesome little tool.

Once the main t’gallent was finished, Matt and Alex painted the bare section with mast oil. This is a shop-made blend of turpentine, Penetrol, and pine tar. It really soaks into the wood.


This section of the mast is left bare because yards will slide up and down in this area. If it was left painted, the paint would soon wear away, leaving bare wood.

And as if by magic, Nathan has finished shaping the mizzen topmast, and cut the heel and shiv box. He’s also relieved the sides of the spar where the rope will come out from the shiv box.


Tomorrow and Thursday (4/16 & 4/17) we have a crane slated to help us install all of the spars that we’ve been working on. Matt and the rigging crew have brought everything out to a staging area on the lift dock in preparation and have been dressing all the spars.

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You might not know it from these posts, but the riggers have been working extended hours to get all of the gear ready. They spend huge hours up in the loft splicing, measuring, serving, parceling, tarring, and generally doing things that I barely understand. Here are a few examples:

Mike parceling a lift for the fore t’gallent


Matt putting a spiced grommet (a ring of rope) onto a top mast funnel (the tapered metal fitting).


Alex and Mike setting up (I think I have this right) forestays for the mizzen mast.


Sara and Howard doing something exceptionally salty with a foot rope in preparation for the big event tomorrow. Sigh, I’ll try to get better and writing down what they tell me.


Mike has finished all of the metal work for the largest yard, the Main Course Yard, and it’s now galvanized, painted, and set up.


This is the foot rope for the main course yard that the riggers have constructed.


You may recall the “pork chops” that Ali was working on earlier. Here’s how they attach to the windlass.


They ride along a slotted and geared rim on the windlass. As the crew pumps the windless arms up and down, the pork chops slide up the windlass barrel, grab hold, and rotate the barrel around on the down stroke.


A video may be in order soon…

John and Rob installed forged eyes in the bow of the boat for the bob stays.


Matt and Roger have been finishing up the hawsepipe installations.

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This involved a lot of careful sculpting of the bolster to seat the hawsepipe flange. The adze is Roger’s tool of choice for this. It’s quick, and in the right hands, very accurate.


Once the bolster is shaped, the hole that houses the hawsepipe is lined with lead.


The lead seals around the pipe and keeps water from infiltrating into the space between the planking and ceiling. It can be pretty tiring work.


The hawsepipes are fastened to the hull and bolster with wrought iron drifts.


Even after the hawspipe was installed, Roger tunes up the shape of the starboard bolster to match the port side.

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Jeff took advantage of one of the few warm sunny days we’ve had, and finish painted the whole area.

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Chris has made a simple drip cap to go below the opening at the aft end of the hurricane house. In the past, water has come through this opening, traveled down behind the ceiling where there is an open slot for venting between the ceiling and planking. This caused a lot of damage to the transom in the past.

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This is the opening, just aft of the rudder box. Borate salt is currently piled on the ledge at this opening to make sure that any water that infiltrates will become sufficiently saline to not cause rot. Chris has sprung the drip cap beneath the opening.


The cap now hides the ventilation slot along the top of the ceiling. Any water that comes in from the aft opening will now run along the cap and drip onto the outer face of the ceiling and down to the deck.

Bunging the fasteners for the drip cap.


Jamie and Rob stripped and repainted much of the hurricane house.


They use a scaffold atop a floating dock to work.


Kevin and Trev have teamed up to finish the extensive trim work in the captain’s cabin. This looks like a simple job, but the joinery is truly tricky, and the smallest mistake jumps out.

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The electrical work is moving along. The new system will allow us to both generate our own power as well as utilize standard shore power. Everything has to be done to the highest standards for marine use. Tich and the electricians are installing a new circuit panel in the machine room.


Scott and Ryan were working on the transformer pedestal when they noticed that someone had left their framing square beneath the base.


I don’t think that’s coming out of the boat.

We need to have a way to connect up to shore power, and so we found a relatively subtle way to hide the connectors.


We’re trying to keep the modern requirements needed to pass Coast Guard Inspection as low key as possible.

Down in the hold, all of the fresh, grey, and black water tanks have been put in position at the aft end of the boat, and soon will be plumbed in.


Up on deck, a number of old bungs have come out over the years.


Volunteers Gary and Brian spent an entire day re-setting the deck spikes and re-bunging all of these spots in the deck.

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They did a beautiful job.

That’s it for now!