’Round Town

Starboard garboard

Posted:  Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 9:45am

The Ernestina-Morrissey project at the old Sample’s Shipyard continues to amaze me.

Recently I got to witness what I think is one of the coolest events ever --- the installation of the “starboard garboard.” The above photo shows mounting the port garboard, however.

The starboard garboard on the Ernestina-Morrissey is the first major chunk of wood to be attached to the area immediately above the keel. In this application, a 700-plus-pound piece of white oak from Denmark, five inches thick and, I’m guessing here, over 30 feet long, must be bent and applied to the curved hull surface. The wood is steamed one hour for each inch of thickness, so this piece got cooked for five hours. It was all set up the shift before, so it would be ready for installation by about noon the day of the steaming.

What an effort! The clamps were flying, the heaves were hoeing and nine remarkable chaps hoisted a great weight into place. It was a stellar example of teamwork. There was no time to waste as the board had to be fastened before its pliability went away. This is a process which occurs many times during the construction process.

One of the best parts of this project for me has been the opportunity to learn about a whole new world. The crew at the yard has been extraordinarily helpful. Everyone has graciously answered my questions and offered explanations for why this or that is done a certain way and how it dovetails with the overall construction.

I have met the most fascinating people and renewed old friendships from other yards where I have worked. The experience with wood has been unprecedented. Oak from Denmark, live oak from “down South,” great boards sawed by Amish in Ohio. All these materials being bent and carved and shaped and fitted to resurrect a magnificent sailing ship.

So far I have documented about two years of work, heading for 3,000 images. I’m not sure how much longer it will take to complete, but I will always be grateful for my time with the crew.

This is a thriving yard with many talented crafts people. Our region is very fortunate.