In the last quarter of the 20th century St. Mary’s County Maryland still had outhouses, tobacco farms, fishing villages and plantations. One of the last live radio stations in America carried the only available daily news. There were a couple of traffic signals, a couple of dress shops, small community grocery stores and a Navy base that most military personnel considered a hardship posting.

Still, just as the first English settlers had determined 350 years before, there were always some who saw the remote and marshy peninsulas for what it is: a marketable paradise.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Boom, Boom and Ballast

Everything's going pretty fast since the the Dee of St. Mary's went overboard May 12, 2012.

Jack rigged the mast while it was still on the ground and Dirtworks lifted it with a single crane and stepped the 76-foot mast into the hull in early June.

The rigging was lashed to the mast to keep it from swinging while aloft. There is a lot of it.

The shrouds, which Jackie explains, are are wire cables that support the mast. They are secured to the sides of the vessel via chain plates. The chain plates are metal plates bolted through the sides of the vessel slightly aft of the base of the mast. The shrouds are positioned there to keep the mast from being forced out of the forward end of the boat if the wind is hard astern.

The mainsail jacks give support to the boom. These are 3/4 inch nylon line that work like slings and support the boom in four places.

What Jack calls the topping lift is a cable that runs from the top of the mast to the aft tip of the boom.

The halyard is the line that raises the main sail and also attached to the mast is the jib halyard.

Shipwright Francis Goddard who built the skipjack in 1979 is carving new wedges to secure the base of the mast through the decking to the hull. Half are done.
So all was ready, on a pleasant day toward the end of June 2012, for another willing crew from the Paul Hall Center to volunteered for duty. The student volunteers are from the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship and are unlicensed seaman training for a career in the merchant marines.

Hundreds of students, upgrading licensed seaman, school employees and members of the Seafarer's International Union have given of time and treasure to see the skipjack restored. She wouldn't be sailing today without the efforts of all of them.

On this day six students lifted the 56-foot boom and placed it back into its cradle, secured the rigging of the boom to the mast and returned three-and-a-half tons of ballast to the hull. Before lunch.

The ballast is in the form of cement blocks and bricks and are counted so the U.S. Coast Guard can have an exact report.  As the ballast was replaced the Dee rode lower in the water showing where cracks between her planking was still not fully sealed. Jack went overboard to caulk them as she gained weight.

The three videos follow:



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