Saturday, 26 November 2016

Rigging Hebridee II

I have been following the progress of rebuilding the schooner Hebridee II at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Halifax waterfront, and through a chance meeting on the waterfront this week, builder Eamonn Doorly was kind enough to let me know in advance of the next major step in the project. Starting on Tuesday morning, Hebridee II was hauled out of her shed onto the boardwalk, and had her masts stepped for the first time. 

Hebridee II already sitting on the boardwalk.
The view from inside the shed.

The boardwalk isn't quite wide enough to accommodate the schooner's full length, so the bow overhung the water, and the stern was still partly in the shed.
I missed the haul-out for the most part, but the cradle is rolled out on steel pipe, and museum staff were enlisted to pull via a block and tackle system. Here is a photo of the museum's Whim (one of the museum's previous projects) being hauled out in a similar fashion. 

Whim being hauled out several years ago.
A boom truck was positioned on the boardwalk just to the south of the schooner, and was used to lift the masts into place. The masts themselves were laid on the wharf just to the north of the schooner, so the crane was actually lifting over the boat itself. 

First to be raised was the foremast. The mast itself passes through a hole in the deck and down through the cabin, and the foot of the mast fits into a slot (called the mast step) that sits on the keel of the boat. This allows the mast to freestand on its own while the stays and shrouds are being fitted.

Foremast step in the forward cabin.

Foremast being lowered into place.

Stepping the foremast.
Dropping the mast through the hole in the deck.
Once the foremast was stepped, attention turned to the main mast. First, the mast had to be moved into position. A wooden mast is rather heavy, and required lots of help.

Moving the main mast into position.
Lifting the mast can be a bit tricky, and the sling has to lift from underneath the lower spreaders so that it can be dropped to the deck once the mast is raised, without having to be retrieved by someone in a bosun's chair. Unfortunately, this makes the mast top heavy, so the sling was further supported at the upper spreader by a rope that could be retrieved from deck level, so that the mast's centre of gravity shifted below the lifting point on the sling.

The main mast lift begins.
The foot of the mast is steadied until the mast is completely off the ground. The canvas boot just above Eamonn's hands is the deck seal that will prevent water from running down the mast into the cabin below.
The mast is now fully supported by the crane.
Similarly to the foremast, the main mast needs to be stepped into a slot below the cabin floor, as seen below.

Mainmast step in the after cabin.
Stepping the mainmast.
Stepping the mainmast from another angle.
Eamonn and museum staff continued with the work of rigging Hebridee II during the morning and afternoon of Tuesday, and left the masts up overnight. Some new rigging has to be made, and measurements need to be taken. The masts and the current rigging are from the original Hebridee II, and even on the old boat, it appears not everything fitted properly. Still, museum staff had completely labelled all the rigging so that it could be easily fitted to the new boat once the masts were raised. 

When I arrived on Wednesday morning, Hebridee II looked like this:

Hebridee II with both masts raised and the majority of her stays and shrouds fitted.
While I am familiar with the marconi rig, I own a sloop, and am not terribly familiar with schooners - so hopefully my terminology here isn't too far wrong.

Generally, the lines supporting the mast running fore and aft along the length of a boat are referred to as stays, while the lines that hold up the mast from port and starboard sides are referred to as shrouds. As seen above, the forestay is fitted to the foremast, and the backstay (to the masthead) and one of the running backstays (to the upper spreaders) are fitted to the mainmast. The backstay on Hebridee II remains in place (I think) at all times, while the running backstays interfere with the mainsail when running before the wind and need to be alternately set and let free depending on what tack the boat is on.

The upper stay and fisherman's stay between the two masts are not fitted, as Eamonn needs to take measurements and have them made up (part of the reason for this whole exercise). The fore gaff is fitted, while unlike Bluenose, the mainmast doesn't have one. Neither boom is fitted yet. At this point, the masts are not quite parallel.

Foremast shrouds attached to the chain plates. The labels are on the small pieces of wood held on by plastic wire ties. I would be advised to do something similar on my own boat, as I inevitably spend time trying to remember which of my shrouds goes forward and which goes aft. I usually get it wrong, and have to switch them after the mast is up.
The mainmast chain plates attach the shrouds to either side of the boat. The mainmast has four shrouds as seen here, two fore and aft that reach to the lower spreader, one that goes as high as the upper spreader, and one that goes to the top of the mast. If you look closely, you can see extender plates between the turnbuckles and the chainplates, as the shrouds are not quite long enough.
Another view of the mainmast shrouds and turnbuckles. Turnbuckles, as the name suggests, can be turned to loosen or tighten the shroud as necessary.
Looking up at the two masts, with the mainmast to the right, and the foremast to the left. You can see spotlights fitted on the underside of the lower mainmast spreaders for illuminating the deck at night. The arrangement of the various shrouds can also be seen on both masts.
A close-up of the fore gaff.
Unlike the mainsail, where the halyard (the rope that hauls up the sail) is attached directly to the head (top) of the sail, the foresail halyard is fitted to the fore gaff.

Once all the measurements were taken and museum staff were happy they had all the information they needed, the masts were taken down and Hebridee II was hauled back into her shed for the winter. They hope to launch her in Spring 2017 to have her available for Tall Ships 2017.

Eamonn pointed out a few areas that need to be re-sanded and repainted, but the paint job looked pretty good to me.
Also newly fitted is the propeller.

Another view from inside the shed.

A final black and white image of Hebridee II's masts. 
I look forward to seeing Hebridee II completed, afloat, and under sail in Halifax Harbour next summer.

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