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The other day in Mystic Seaport, there was a ceremony to mark the “stepping” of the foremast of the Morgan. That’s when the mast of a ship is erected onto the ship. The Morgan of course is the last wooden whaling ship in the US, and it has been through a massive restoration and will soon be on it’s 38th voyage.
I was so pleased and honored to be at the event, along with friends from Dalvero Academy. And even more pleased to don a hardhat and draw the action from the front line. The hard hats did give a the scene a sort of battle feel, especially when the crew worked and shouted out commands and codes and jokes.
I had a ball. I started drawing from land and followed the mast onto the ship where I continued the reportage from the deck. Next time I hope to do the opposite- start on the boat- so that I can get a glimpse of the coin being place at the bottom of the mast for luck. The second mast will be stepped in November. I can’t wait to go back.
First, here is a drawing I made of the overall scene. There is the Morgan in the background, waiting for her foremast. The crane, that was towering over me at one point, and I have to say, it made me nervous. And of course the massive mast in the foreground with the crew.
The crew had not much to do as they waited for the green light to begin the work. They were itching to get started and were in good spirits.
Next, the go ahead was given and the ropes were the first to get attention. In fact, most of the action revolved around the ropes.
With the ropes secured onto the mast, it was time for the crane to lower the hook to be secured to the ropes.
They took a while making sure that the hook was perfectly secured. I don’t blame them! And overseeing the whole process was Quentin Snediker, the white bearded director of the restoration of the Morgan.
As the mast began it’s slow rise into the sky, onlookers were a mix of joy and nerves. It was exciting.
The crane let go which meant that the crew on the ship had the mast in their hands. It was time for me to leave my post and hit the deck.
The first thing I noticed was the hugging. I thought it was cute how the only way to steady the mast was to hug it.
Through this portal, I saw some of the crew below as they watched.
And from this view I could only see hands gently guiding the mast into position. I was told the bottom fits like a key into the keel. Another reason to draw from down there next time!
This is Alex, and he seemed to have an integral role in the process.
Next, a head popped up from below deck to announce that the mast was in place.
The bell on deck was rung and the next phase was swiftly underway.
The ropes from the top of the mast were then attached to the sides of the boat. Every rope has a name on a boat, hence the term “learning the ropes”. Because it takes a while to learn the name of what looks like a thousand ropes!
And the work was winding down the same way it began, with a lot of rope work.
I was pleased to see a woman on deck. It was once considered the worst of luck to have a female aboard.
Below is who I thought to be the director of the crew. The captain? Not sure, but this guy did most of the shouting of the commands and the pointing, so I’m pretty sure he was in charge.
At last, the mast was in it’s place and the sun made a brief appearance in approval.
You can click on this link to see more about that day.