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Drying Sail

Wednesday December 11, 2013

The day comes in fair and clear and calm. Not a ripple on the sea. A few nice old yachts lay at moorings between the Picton Castle and the village wharf of Russell. The early morning ferry from Paihia leaves a wake which rocks our skiff alongside as she passes. Dew on deck and the varnished rails sparkles in the low morning sunlight. It rained pretty hard a day or so ago. We must dry sail.

As many of you know, all the sails of our ship are made onboard by the crew, by hand, out of cotton duck canvas. They are good old fashioned sails and work just fine. We get to teach sailmaking to those that wish to learn and can be here long enough to pick it up. This is not something one can learn in a week or two.

Canvas is reasonable to sew by hand and Dacron or polyester is not. Cotton lasts long in sunlight and we can expect to get five good years out of a sail and longer too. But not if they are allowed to remain wet in their furls after a good rain soaking. If we did not dry them consciously after a rain we might only get six months’ use out of them. That would be too bad.

After morning muster all hands clambered aloft to loose sail. Now all that canvas hangs in creamy bights drying in the gentle breezes over the still waters. By mid-afternoon the gang will have all these twenty-one sails nicely furled again.

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