Now, where were we….

Before the recent unpleasantness with the weather, the dearth of electricity, and the enforced regional  workout program known as “shoveling” we were busy working on the Mayflower. Here is a an update from the shipyard and our own marine shop for what you might have missed while occupied elsewhere.

Let’s start in the shop with carpentry:

Keith shaping a new foremast cap. Main mast cap in foregroud

In this shot we see Keith McIntosh, milling a big piece of wood that will become the foremast cap. What is that you ask? Well, I will tell you. the top of the foremast has a square tenon in it, about 6 inches square. The foremast cap sits on that tenon and projects forward. The front part of the cap has a round hole through which the foretop mast runs. So the foremast cap is the primary way the fore mast and the fore top mast are joined together. (It is important).

foremast cap.

The original cap had been replaced about twenty – two years ago. The above picture shows the huge crack that runs down the length of the cap. Keith did a beautiful job splicing in a new piece of wood on one end of the cap. After investigting the rest of the piece we decided it would be best to replace the whole thing.

Main Mast cap, fifty - four years old.

Being the clever shipwrights that we are we thought we ought to take a look at the main mast cap since the foremast cap looked so dodgy. (It does the same job on the main mast, except it is bigger and heavier.) After stripping off years of paint we found  what turned out to be a not very sound cap. The brown dirt/wood on the floor in front of the cap is more rotten wood that fell out as we moved the cap for this photo.The fore mast cap measure about 6″ x 17″ by 30″. The main is 7″ x 20″ x 36″. Heavy.

We have used, a chain saw, skill saw, sawz-all, power planner, adze, and chisels to just shape the big timbers down to size. Next steps are to cut the round and square holes.

Stay tuned.

Now to the rigging:

Danny has been busy.

replacing jackstays on the fore and main top yards


In this shot Danny is installing the newly rebuilt jackstays back onto the top yards.

Jack stays???

They are horizontal lines that run along the top forward face of the yards. Primarly we use them for safety hand holds while working aloft on the yards.  In our period the sails are attached, or bent as we say, to the yards directly, by way of robands. (braided line that wraps around the yards allowing the sail to hang below it). Later in history sails are attached directly to jackstays allowing sailors to furl, then haul the rolled up sail onto the top of the yard. Simple, no?

Anyway, during the inspection of the rigging we noticed many places where the serving, that is the small line that wraps around the jack stays was either worn or missing. We decided to remove the jack stays, replace all the servings and the seizings that bind the ends of the jack stays to each other in the middle of the yard. In the photo Danny is getting ready to seize the two halves of the Jack stays together.

main top tye block (note rotted hemp) Our annual inspection of the rigging revealed the rotten section of hemp on the block that holds up the main top yard.

The tye, as it is called is around forty feet long. The end of the tye goes through a sheave at the top of the main top mast, and then attaches to the top yard which is onthe front of the mast. The block remains on the back side of the mast. Another line called the runner goes through that block. The runner has its own block which the actual halyard goes through. It is the halyard that we haul on to raise the yard. The whole thing acts like a giant multi-part tackle. A simple machine if ever there was one.

Danny had to serve about four feet of one end of the new tye, (1 1/2″ hemp). Very brieflyone can remember the process of serving by following the  well known ditty: (well in some circles), “Worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way.”  Cute, right?

Worming: wrapping small line in the lay of the bigger line to make the big line more round.

Parceling: thin linen about 2″ wide that is wrapped around the wormed line.

Serving: small hemp twine closely spun around the parceled roped.

Before and after each step a layer of pine tar is applied.

The freshly served line is seized to the block. The other end of the line is then whipped twice and your done. The whole process took about two days.

And now for the ship:

Port side waterline repairs

We can see planks have been removed as noted in a previous post, and as required by the Coast Guard. Old fastenings have been pulled and the holes left in the frames are plugged with wooden dowels.




Opening up the transom to get at a rotted frame.

Removing planks on the side of the ship revealed a rotted frame at the very back corner of the ship. In order to replace that bad section of framing, the yard crew needed to remove some transom planks to have access to the rotted frame.






  1. Jon Rice

    thanks, Peter,
    This is so useful in talking about the ship, also to see the working being done like this is a confidence builder in the future of the Mayflower.

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