Running Rigging

In case you hadn’t noticed, sailboats fascinate me.  I’ve got a couple of ideas of things to write, but haven’t been able to get the pictures I want yet to illustrate, so let’s talk about rigging.

There is a beautiful sailboat tied up at the shipyard at the mouth of Sisters Creek that is just the quintessential sailing vessel.  She looks like she’s rigged as a Skipjack, one of the noble oyster dredges that used to ply the Chesapeake Bay.  I say that because the main boom extends out beyond the transom of the boat, which allows a Skipjack to carry enough main sail to haul a dredge across the bottom of the bay and scoop up the oysters.  Still, Skipjacks, as I recall, were single-masted vessels, and this beauty carries a main and foremast.  Plus enough headstays for any number of headsails.  It’s difficult to Rigging 1describe.

But the running rigging makes for some interesting visuals.  Here next to the doghouse at the base of the foremast are two primary self-tailing winches.  These, unless I miss my guess, are for headsail control.  The beauty of this boat is that all of the tackle in the running rigging is made of wood.  It’s gorgeous, and I’m very, very happy that I don’t have to maintain all that wood.

Rigging 2

When you look at the pictures big on Flickr (just click on one), think about this.  Every line in the picture has a name and a specific purpose.  The people who sail this boat know what each one is, what it’s called, and what sail it controls. 

Rigging 3

This fascinates me.  The sails hank on to the mast with this series of wooden rings … sort of like the worlds largest ring-toss game.  Very traditional, very labor intensive.  Occasionally, it all has to be sanded and varnished and sanded and varnished and sanded and varnished.  I only re-finished one wooden mast in my sailing career.  9 coats of spar varnish later, we finally re-stepped the mast on the boat.  And it all has to be done in reasonably dry conditions, with not a speck of dust getting between the layers.  Aluminum spars are a wonderful thing.Rigging 4

At the mast head, old meets new.  Sitting up in all that wood is a very modern radome.  I’d love to have the opportunity to go below and see how her cabins are configured, and how modern meets traditional.  But mostly, this post was an excuse to show off these pictures. 

I have to be up early tomorrow to give my standard speech to the San Marco Rotary Club.  They meet downtown at 7:30 in the morning.  I should get to bed.

–scene–

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