bit by bit

We are seeing progress on all fronts at the ship. Jack and I fit and fastened the big
3 ½” x 5” white oak wale on the port side after castle. It is big, heavy and requires working from staging up on the outside of the ship. It’s great to get that piece on. The remaining planks and smaller wales are much easier by comparison.

For my part, I made a plank for the bow, 2” thick and about nine feet long. Tomorrow we will put it into a box and steam it for about two hours so that we can bend it around the hull. It took me half a day to prep the steam box, make sure the boiler is working, get water for it, chase down drill bits, fastenings etc. etc.

Paula and George are doing a yeoman’s job of tarring the rigging. (George will be a featured artisan of the day as soon as I remember to bring my camera to work,) We use a mixture of pine tar, japan drier and some mineral spirits. The mixture has to be stiff enough so that it won’t immediately drip down on our visitors but thin enough to soak in to the hemp rigging. The whole mess sets up in a few days to a nice shinny black shield against the sun and rain.

Dick Bean, a good friend and volunteer in our department helped with some tarring this morning. Dick lives in the neighborhood, took a boat building class of mine one winter and most interestingly was one of the first guides on the ship in 1958. He has some great stories about “the old days” when the ship had just arrived from England, our museum was new, and they tried to figure out how tell a story that everyone thought they knew but really we are still trying to understand today.

As we work away on the ship we can catch a glimpse of Cape Cod Bay off in the distance. In an earlier posting, I mentioned Clark’s Island, Saquish head and Gurnet Point. The chart shows an overhead view of these landmarks. They all played a part in the first Mayflower’s arrival. I think about that long winter of 1620-21, and the small crew who managed to prepare the ship to sail in the spring, out into the same waters I can see today. I guess we can too.

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