Monday, December 29, 2008

Shutter or Whiskey Plank

What is it with alcoholic beverages and ships? We all know the tradition of breaking a bottle of champagne on the hull of a ship for its christening before it is launched. However, pouring whiskey on a plank of the hull of a ship is a bit more unknown.

In December, the shutter plank, or whiskey plank was installed on the CHEROKEE, the Sparkman and Stevens six-meter yacht being build by Boothbay Harbor Shipyard as an exhibit, at the Museum of Yachting.

Why a celebration for this plank? A whiskey or shutter plank is the last plank, which needs to be put in place to finish a ship's hull. The Shutter Plank Party is an old tradition. Sometimes a glass of the last captain’s favorite drink is poured on the plank. However, the drink of the last captain of the original CHEROKEE is unknown so they used whiskey.

After a whiskey plank is put on, the hull can be treated, sealed, and painted, and work begins on the inner fixtures of the ship. Because this marks a turning point in the construction, it is traditional to take a brief moment to celebrate the mounting of this special plank. Often, this tradition involves shots of whiskey for all.

Although the CHEROKEE is still far from finished, once the shutter or whiskey plank is installed, a major milestone in the construction has been reached.

It has been a while since we have checked in on the progress of the CHEROKEE, from the lofting to the completed hull. A larger view of these images can be view here.

If you would like to see more great pictures and read more details of this project click into the CHEROKEE Blog by Tom Daniels.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boothbay Harbor Lights Boat Parade

On a cold winter Saturday night during the holiday season, one might ask what happens in a small coastal town in Maine. One special activity in Boothbay is the Boothbay Harbor Lights Boat Parade. On Friday night Joe Reardon, Micheal Connors, Jeff Dick, Michael and Pam Bauregard and Michelle Farnham gathered to decorate the Glenn-Geary for the parade. The red lights went up on the port side and the green lights went up on the starboard side with white and mixed colors in between. The lights were powered with a generator donated by Kevin Roux.

At 5:00, the parade began to circle the harbor from the town float around the east side to the shipyard on the west side and back to the town float. The judges made up of merchants from town, looked at the 13 participating boats and chose our own Glenn-Geary, piloted by Capt. Dave Thompson wearing his white beard and red Santa hat, as FIRST place. The shipyard won bragging rites for the year, along with $100 and a silver engraved cup. Congratulations to all who participated in this celebration. Pictures of the event are available here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Red and Green

As we enter into the holiday season, the colors red and green come to our mind as colors of seasonal decorations. Where as, in the summer, those colors mean something very different for those that maneuver sailing ships and powerboats along the coast of Maine. Red represents the port (or left) and green represents the starboard (or right) side of a ship or boat.

Historically, before ships had rudders on their centerlines, they were steered by a specialized oar. Located in the stern (back) of the ship, this oar was held by an oarsman. However, like most of the rest of society, there were many more right-handed sailors than left-handed sailors. Therefore, the oar was usually on the right side of the ship. The Old English word steorbord evolved into starboard, which meant, the side on which the ship is steered.

Originally, the port or left side of the ship was known as larboard. Larboard is derived from the practice of sailors mooring on the left side (the larboard or loading side) as to prevent the steering boards from being crushed. The term larboard, when shouted in the wind and weather, was presumably too easy to confuse with starboard. Later in the 1850’s, the word port came to replace it, referring to the side of the ship where cargo is loaded from the port.

So, if you have difficulty remembering left-port and right-starboard, here are a couple of suggestions:
1. "Port", "left", and "red" are all short words while the other side are long words “starboard", "right", and "green".
2. Or if you are a wine lover this one might be the easier to remember. “Is there any Red Port Left in the bottle?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

International WorkBoat Show

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard representatives Capt. Dave Thompson and Dave Ernst, head for the International WorkBoat Show this week in New Orleans.

The International WorkBoat Show is the largest commercial marine tradeshow in North America serving people and businesses working on the coastal, inland and offshore waters. One thousand companies will display products and services for commercial vessels and the companies that build, service and operate them.

In the future, BBHS will be teaming with Cummins to install propulsion and auxiliary engines from 50 to 2000 horsepower (37 to 1492 kW). Boothbay Harbor Shipyard can install engines into such boats as: gill netters, ferries, yachts, tugboats, fishing boats, fire boats, seiners, and crew boats.

Installations such as the Cummins engines in the tugboat Lucinda Smith are an example of the teaming effort. See a video on the tugboat Lucinda Smith installation here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

International Sail Training Association Conference

On November 14 and 15, 2008, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard was proud to help sponsor the first joint Sail Training International/American Sail Training Association annual conference, which was held at Halifax. It was the first Sail Training International conference to be held outside Europe.

More than half of the 400 delegates from 28 countries were sail training tall ship operators from around the world. Other attendees represented ports that host the Tall Ship events. Click here for a new video on Sail Training International.

“Bringing our conference to Halifax is one of a series of initiatives we have embarked on to extend our global reach and influence, working with our member national organizations.” For more details on the conference click here.

“The American Sail Training Association is a founder member of Sail Training International. The joint venture on this year's conference will strengthen our links with the international sail training community as a precursor to the Tall Ships® Atlantic Challenge 2009,” said Mike Rauworth, Chairman of the American Sail Training Association.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Italian TV Film Crew

Feeling that it was just the right time to visit Maine with the gorgeous foliage and lack of tourists, Cristina Borgogna Di Capriasco gently requested to have multiple shipwrights pose in front of the 275 gallon oil sign with tools of their trade. They kindly posed one at a time with a variety of tools such as a chain saw, trunnel hammer, welding gear, laptop computer and about nine others.

Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor Shipyard had a team of six Italian TV crew here last week filming for the European show "Classic Boat". In addition to the still images of the shipwrights, they conducted interviews on two large projects in process here at the shipyard: Ernestina and Belle Aventure.

Each show is broadcasted in 4 languages: Italian, French, English and German. It is a 1
2 months program, with 24 episodes of 24 minutes each, which began in 2004.

Classic Boat's goal is to pass on the passion and the complicity of sailors, owners, and artisans who dedicated their whole life and their energy to the restoration of boats and ships. The show tours shipyards, showing the ancestral knowledge laying at the base of
a restoration project.

Hosted by Michel Dejoie and produced by M & N Yacht, Classic Boat is a television program totally dedicated to classic and vintage boats, as well as to sailors, skippers, owners… but also to artisans and sea carpenters.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Service Provided: Cathodic Protection

Cathodic protection is one of the most effective ways of reducing or eliminating the corrosion damage that invariably affects metals that are in contact with sea water.

Metal hulls, rudders, propellers, stabiliser fins, ballast tanks, water tanks are all areas that need protection. Paint provides only minimal protection from the corrosion of metal.

On the right is the famous ship the Cutty Sark. Below the ship is one example of corrosion damage, rust flaking off a stringer plate behind the figureheads on the Cutty Sark.

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard has expanded the scope of services to our customers to include the ability to perform an electrical signature analysis of metal hulls. This tool helps identify the risks of structural and mechanical corrosion.

This pier side activity begins with all onboard systems shut down and the placement of a submerged device adjacent to the hull. Starting with quality issues related to shore power, a multi-input data logging system documents the results of activating the entire range of onboard systems.

The analysis and interpretation of these results allows for a cathodic protection plan to be customized for each vessel. Correcting these risks not only protects the longevity of the hull but can extend the life of mechanical and electrical components.

It is recommended that a new analysis be performed at the conclusion of any major change in electrical related components. New equipment has the potential to create additional cathodic risks.

When the yacht is going to be harbored for an extended period of time, additional data logging can provide indication of risks based on the electrical signature found in that particular location.

An inventory and specifications of onboard systems and equipment is required to be able to provide a price quotation for this service.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shipworm Not a Worm

Not only do shipwrights need to be concerned with gribbles but they also worry about the shipworm. The shipworm, which is not a worm at all, is actually related to the clam and mussel, therefore it is a mollusk.

These "termites of the sea" are able to digest the wood due to a symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that is stored in a special organ in their body. This relationship is much like the termite, which also needs a bacteria to allow it to digest the cellulose in the wood and turn it into glucose for
The larva of the shipworm uses its small sharp shell to drill into wood. As they grow, the tunnels get larger and larger. Often, wood may have a tiny hole on the outside but the inside will be a maze of larger tunnels. The shipworm (teredo navalis) or sometimes known as the teredo worm, uses the shells near its head or siphon to burrow. Their ridged and rough surfaces rub the wood away as the mollusk turns its head one way and then another. It leaves behind a circular tube that is a bit larger than the shell. The shipworm eats the wood and the soft body's mantle leaves behind a white calcareous substance like chalk to line the burrow for protection and strength.

Shipworms have long been a global scourge of maritime activities. In 1502, during Columbus' 4th voyage to the Caribbean Sea, his ships survived a water spout, a hurricane, high seas, lightning and rocky reefs. However, luck ran out when two of his four ships had to be abandoned in the Hispanolas and Jamaica because of shipworm rot. He later used copper on the hull to protect it from shipworms.

Pier owners in San Francisco Bay saw an estimated $1.3 billion (today’s dollars) in shipworm damage in the early 1920s. In the last decade, the city of New York has spent well over $100 million to protect and replace worm-damaged structures.

One good way to decrease shipworms attaching and living on marine wood is to inhibit the symbiotic bacteria it needs to live. Some wood that inhibits the growth of the symbiotic bacteria is Douglas-fir, ebony, jarrah, koa, lignum vitae, narra, Osage orange, paduccah, purple heart, red alder, red oak, teak, verawood, and western red cedar. That is why Boothbay Harbor Shipyard spends much time and care choosing the right wood for each section of a ship for a new build or rebuild.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Attack of the Gribbles

Sounds like a science fiction title doesn't it? But the attack of the gribbles could be in most any shipyard, dock or under any wooden boat. These are one of the two animals that cause the most damage in wooden boats.

Gribbles are related to the lobster and crab. They are mostly a pale, white, small crustacean from one of the 56 species of marine isopods from the Limnoriidae family.

For a long time the gribble diet was a mystery; gribbles lack the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their bellies that symbiotically allow termites and shipworms to survive on the carbon riches of wood. In other words, they were endlessly gnawing through wood that provided little nutrition or energy to them.

The secret is the wood in seawater, like our harbor estuary, has a slimy surface. That slimy surface, scientists have discovered, is the true diet of a gribble. And by tunneling through wood, and having succeeding generations of gribbles widen those protected tunnels, gribbles dramatically increase the surface area on which the nitrogen-rich microbial slimes can grow.

Gribbles and shipworms, another wood borer, were absent from many harbors for generations because pollution levels were too high, and oxygen levels too low, for them to survive. Strangely enough, the very polluted harbors were often known as "clean harbors" because they had local waters that were so toxic that the unwanted organisms would die off of ships. Luckily, many of these harbors are healthier and the gribbles are back.

At the shipyard, we have classic wooden ships and yachts. Careful maintenance of making sure the bottoms are painted and all the seams are sealed, prevents gribbles from damaging these ships and yachts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Twenty Five Years Lead to Boothbay Harbor in August

What do you suppose Key West, Florida, Charleston, North Carolina, Ketchikan, Alaska and Twin Bridges, Montana have in common with Boothbay Harbor, Maine?

They were all Charles Kuralt’s choices of places to be for a month in his book “Charles Kuralt’s America”. He suggests Key West for January and Ketchikan, Alaska for June. However, his vote for August was Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Tired of the competitive, deadline driven news world, Charles Kuralt persuaded CBS to let him try out traveling and interviewing regular people from a motor home. He was given three months and it turned into a quarter-century project. "On the Road" became a regular feature on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in 1967. Famously enough, Kuralt hit the road in a motor home (he wore out six before he was through) with a small crew and avoided the interstates in favor of the nation's back roads in search of America's people and their doings.

Much like John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” Kuralt looked for and found interesting people and places.

Here is a short selection from the August section about Boothbay Harbor, Maine from “Charles Kuralt’s America”.

I didn't get over my boat dream the whole time I was in Maine. I'm not over it yet. I am drawn to shipyards and anchorages wherever I go. If there's a bit of a breeze, the sound of a halyard slapping a mast arouses a great yearning in me.

In the perfect harbor …one late afternoon, no less than eleven of the passenger-carrying windjammers of Maine sailed in for a rendezvous. There was the last of the three-masted schooners, Victory Chimes, a survivor of the days when Maine bought its groceries in the West Indies and sent to China for afternoon tea. Anchored nearby was the pilot schooner Timberwind, which was launched in Portland in 1931 and has never left Maine waters; if you are born in heaven, her caption once said, why go anywhere else? There was the J. & E. Riggin, an eighty-nine-foot oyster-dredging schooner dating to 1927; and American Eagle, a gorgeous ninety-two-foot fishing schooner from the 1930s; and the oldest documented American sailing vessel in continuous use, the Stephen Taber, launched in 1871; and there were all the others, a maginificent show. These boats are captained by happy men and women who cannot imagine what else they'd rather do with their lives. I understand them. The passengers, most of them, return year after year for the sweet passages through the coves and islands, the quiet nights at anchor, the sea chantey concerts on deck, the lobster bakes ahsore. I understand them, too.

I went out to Nathaniel Bowditch, an eighty-two-foot topsail schooner which left the fleet in her wake in the Bermuda Race of 1923. Her captain, Gib Philbrick, is a wonderful man whose enthusiasm for what he does is written all over his face. Gib was once a fishing guide in te Rangeley Lakes. He was the basketball coach at the University of Maine. All the time, he wanted to be a schooner captain. He and his wife, Terry, took a deep breath and bought Nathaniel Bowditch twenty years ago.

"If a schooner ownes you," he said, "it owns you all year around. In the late fall, we go over every line and block, we have new sails made if we can afford it, we care for every tiny thing. We keep her in the water where she belongs, and throw salt water on her deck every day to keep the seams tight. In the winter when I'm feeling edgy, I come down and sit aboard.

"And then -- oh, man -- then comes the spring!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Knees from Trees

One might ask, what do knees and the Larix laricina have to do with ships and shipbuilding? It turns out they have a prominent place in the history of shipbuilding as well as modern wooden ships.

The Larix laricina or the tamarak tree has shallow roots that grow almost perpendicular to the tree trunk. Therefore, they make tremendously strong knees. Knees are the right-angle root of the Eastern larch, or tamarack tree--also known as a hackmatack. Which are one of only three deciduous trees that lose their needles. The tamarack is a bog tree, fast-growing with shallow roots, which became prized because of its strength and durability to create braces in wooden shipbuilding. The tree often grows in peat moss and when it does, the roots do not freeze. It also is decay resistant, which is a big plus on ships.

For centuries, knees have been used in wooden ships and boats to strengthen and support deck beams and keels. When used vertically, they are called "hanging" or "standing" knees. Lateral knees are referred to as "lodging" or "bosom" knees.

Often, each mast has 4 lodging knees to help hold the shape against the stress of the movement of the vessel and the mast. In addition to the lodging knees the space where the mast fits also has several hanging knees.

The knees are seasoned from one month to four years depending on the thickness of the wood.

Until recently, Maine had one of the few “knee farmers” in the country. Newman Gee of Newman’s Knees from St. Albans, Maine would dig up the roots by hand just as they did 100 years ago. He used a Wood-Mizer mill equipped with a special sled, which allowed him to saw the knees lengthwise, pivoting them as the saw blade advanced.

Historically, the tamarak not only provided knees from the roots but young stems were used for dog sled runners, boat ribs and fishtraps. Even the fine roots were used to sew birch bark and the wood was used for arrow shafts. The bark was used for medicine and the soft needles were used to stuff pillows and mattresses. These people really knew how to live “green”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sailing Schooner School in Session

As students locally return to school, we see the Harvey Gamage getting its final preparations before it picks up the new students in mid-September for Ocean Classroom's fall Semester at Sea.

The Harvey Gamage was recently launched after a summer of repair for a major plank and frame replacement renewal project. The focus for this year was the mid-ship. As part of a five-year cycle, the shipyard replaced around 64 futtocks (ribs of ship) and 22 planks in the midship area.

This fall term, Proctor Academy students from Proctor, New Hampshire board the traditional schooners, Harvey Gamage and Spirit of Massachusetts and embark on an open-ocean adventure: sailing down the east coast...through the Bahamas...south to Hispanola...and finally into San Juan Harbor. Along the way they gain full academic credit for their studies in maritime history, maritime literature and writing, navigational mathematics, marine science and seamanship skills in collaboration with Ocean Classroom Foundation.

In a year, the Ocean Classroom ships will visit between 12 and 16 countries. They cover between 4,500 and 6,000 miles under sail while the students serve as ship's crew and are regularly attending classes. The Ocean Classroom Foundation has programs for students from middle school up through college.

Watch the VIDEO on the Harvey Gamage at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Six-Metre Sailboats

What is a Six-Metre sailboat and why is it often actually 12 meters long?

Six-Metre sailboats are a construction class. This means that the boats are not identical but are all designed to meet a specific measurement formula, called the International Rule, which came about in 1907. The International Rule was created for the measuring and rating of yachts to allow different designs of yachts to race together under a handicap system. It is important to note the term metre does not refer to the length of the yacht; it is the product of a formula and denotes the class. A Six Metre yacht can be from 10 metres to 12 metres in length.

The Six-Metre class became very popular, and was chosen as an Olympic class in 1908 Summer Olympics.

The 1920-1930s was the “golden age' of the Six-Metre Class, attracting top sailors and designers. However, Sixes were later criticized as too expensive and towards the end of 1930s they became more so, making the class too exclusive.

Already in 1929, 5.5 Metre class was established as a cheaper and
smaller alternative for Sixes, and the last year the Sixes was an event in the Olympics was in 1952.

The U.S. competed in the first Olympic Yachting events held in 1900, but not again until 1928. Their first medal was won in 1932.

The sailing events in the very first modern Olympics in 1886 were cancelled due to weather. The only other year there were no sailing events (other than war time) was in 1904 in St. Louis.

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard is sponsoring the building of the Cherokee, a Six-Metre sailboat at the Museum of Yachting, in Newport this summer. The boat will be completed in time for it to compete in the World Championships for Six-Metre sailing yachts in October 2009 hosted by The Museum of Yachting at Newport, Rhode Island. This will be the first time the United States has hosted the international event since 1987.

We also, have an Olin Stephens designed Six-Metre here at the shipyard ready to be restored. Ciocca II is a 1948 Sparkman & Stevens International Six M. NO 794. There is time to restore this Six-Metre and compete in the 2009 World Championships in Newport.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Boothbay Harbor's Own Olympian

The Olympic sailors use the wind to move their boats, but Boothbay Harbor's own Elle Logan uses her muscle. United States (Erin Cafaro, Lindsay Shoop, Anna Goodale, Elle Logan, Anne Cummins, Susan Francia, Caroline Lind, Caryn Davies, Mary Whipple) claimed gold with a time of 6:05.34 in Women's Eight at Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing on Sunday, August 17.
The U.S. Olympic women's eight sliced through the 2,000-meter course with precision, winning its preliminary heat in 6 minutes, 6.53 seconds. This allowed them to qualify for the finals along with Romania, winner of the second heat.

Elle, a first time Olympian and 6'2" Stanford undergraduate has won many national and international awards. Representing Maine and the USA along with Elle is Anna Goodale from Portland.

In a rowing shell, the first seat down the river is number one. Elle and Anna are seated in seats between three and six which are called "the engine room" so as you can imagine, Anna and Elle are very strong.

Watch the US Team in action.