Friday, July 12, 2013

Rigging whaleboats

Workshop on the Water is all about rigging whaleboats these days, as we hurry to complete rigging for the two boats before they head to Mystic Seaport for the Charles W. Morgan launch on July 21.  We have completed nearly all the spars -- two masts, two gaffs, and one boom are ready to go. One set of shrouds has been completed, and Jeff spent much of the day working on the second set.  The last spar, a boom, has been planed to 16 sides and is ready for final planing and sanding.  The amount of labor involved is daunting, but little by little, the "to do" pile grows smaller, and the "done" pile grows larger. We'll make it.  We always do.

Jaws are fitted to a boom prior to riveting

The first boom is finished and oiled.  It is good to go.

The second boom, planed to 8 sides, is lined out for 16 side planing.

Jeff set up his rigging station near the visitor gallery in the workshop, and demonstrated the various steps needed to prepare traditional rigging to fascinated adults and kids. While the skills involved in worming, parceling, and serving rope are not especially difficult to master, there are just not that many occasions in modern life when one is called upon to exercise them. Therefore, it is always fun when an opportunity for marlinspike seamanship does arise.  The whaleboats give us an opportunity to go "all the way" since the rope is hemp, and the wrapping materials are all natural, including the tar.

Jeff works on the splice where the shroud attaches to the top of the mast.
Rigging is one of those areas of boatbuilding that has remained essentially unchanged for centuries.  The tools are the same, the process is identical. The old rigger's ditty "Worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way," still works as well as it did two hundred years ago.

Jeff demonstrates parceling for Julio.  Perhaps the next generation rigger?
A coating of tar holds the parceling fabric in place.

Jeff works his ancient serving tool "against the lay"
A pretty good job.
A finished shroud.
Dan and Julio were working on replacing cracked frames on one of the Museum fleet Whitehalls.  The process involves removing and replacing the broken frames one at a time by cutting the old rivets, pulling the broken frame out, inserting a new frame, and finally riveting it in place. It is a great opportunity to learn about the forces that work against a wooden boat, as well as a chance to make sure an old boat stays where it belongs -- in the water. 
Julio works on filling some holes in Whitehall floorboards.
Dan rivets a new frame in place near the Whitehall's bow.

Meanwhile, the ISM summer daycamp kids had a grand time kayaking and rowing in the basin.  As a special treat, the younger kids got to row in the whaleboat, which is an experience not many of their peers who did not participate in the daycamp, can claim to have had.

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