View from the fore bowl

With this entry I will attempt to catch up with the marine staff’s goings-on for the week. As always recently our week is chock-o-block full of activity. The pictures are different views from the fore bowl of what’s happening on the ship. Mostly we have been working on rigging sails. That one short sentence covers a lot of ground.

Our sails are made of linen canvas. It is very beautiful stuff woven in England and hand-sewn by our own staff. The boltrope, the line around the edge of the sail and all the gear used to control the sail is also made of hemp and it’s heavy. But that wasn’t my point, my point was that the linen canvas has to be treated, we use a commercial product call canvac, before the sails go up on the yards. The canvac makes the sail semi-waterproof, somewhat mildewresistant and mostly more heavy.

After canvacing the sail on the ground we flake them, that is fold them up in such a way as to make it easier to attach them to the yards. We gather all the lines needed to control the sails, the buntlines, leachlines, clewlines, sheets, tacks, and gaskets and throw it all into the back of our truck and head to the waterfront.

Fortunately we have had some volunteers to help us rig the sails, Wednesday Frank and John helped out bending the foretopsail. The foretopsail is smallish and easy to work on because we can stand in the working top on the foremast. There is always a little head scratching as we try to remember where all the fair leads go and what type of know to tie for what kind of application. Generally we sort it all out, sometimes first time round sometimes we have to take things apart and start over. They say you can do everything right the first time around, I suppose that’s true but I’ve never seen it happen.

We bent the spritsail and Mizzen sail on Monday. We Bent the foretopsail on Wednesday and Thursday did the Main Course sail. (By the way the verb “To Bend” is used in reference to attaching sails to yards, I’m not sure why, maybe somebody knows?)

The main course is the biggest, heaviest sail on the ship and we worked on it all day Thursday. The sail itself is brand new, made over the course of the season, two years ago, and this is the first time it has been on the ship. It is a beauty. We had a lot of extra help bending the main course. There were the four of us, George, Paula, Jack and myself, along with Pret, Shan, Tom, Frank, and Bill. It sounds like a lot of people but we used everyone and we were all sore and tired by the end of that day. It is a testament to our crew that they all came back that night for sail training and cheerfully lead our new recruits in sailing handling, climbing and safety walk-throughs, without hardly grumbling at all. Most of them remained in the rigging for the entire two hour training session on a blustery cold night helping people learned to climb and learn to furl.

 Today, of course was boat-building day. Friday afternoons we work with volunteers building a new workboat for Mayflower II. There is a previous posting covering the ins-and-outs of that project. I am happy to report progress on all fronts. We have made 6 of the 12 frames we need, the bow is done and the transom is on its way. We should be setting up the boat in no time. That about catches us up on this week. TGIF.

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