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?