Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
After a week or so of site preparation, Bosun School students started downrigging Picton Castle last week. All sails were sent down, then much of the running rigging. Sails came down quite quickly, it didn’t take much more than a day to get them all down to deck, bundled up properly, and stowed in our sail loft ashore.
Sending down royal and t’gallant yards was next. Bosun School students had all done their training to climb up in the rigging, called going aloft, prior to sending down sail. They worked in the rigging to get the big cotton canvas sails cut free from the yards and lowered carefully to deck. But handling the heavy load of a wooden spar with a lot of rigging bits attached to it requires even greater attention to detail to be sure it’s done right. Yards came down smoothly, with lots of instruction and coordination as it went.
Now that the yards are sitting on sawhorses on the wharf, it’s time to inspect them. As Captain Moreland explained to the students this morning, this will determine what work needs to be done on them. He started by pushing on the yards to see if there are any obvious cracks in the wood, which we’d hear and see if they were there. Then he looked at the condition of the footropes and identified some areas where the serving needs to be renewed. He checked the shackles and their mousings that hold the footrope to the ends of the yard and checked the stirrups and the seizings that hold them to the yard. He explained that shackles always need to be moused and that the seizings for the stirrups are very important and must be made with strong material, and must be watched constantly for chafe. He also looked at the backropes, which on Picton Castle are made of typhoon wire and their seizings to the yard. Then he looked at the lifts, which could use a wire brushing and fresh coating. Captain Moreland also pointed out how important it is to label every piece of rigging so when they’re taken off the yard so the surface of the yard can be repaired if necessary then sanded and varnished or painted, the parts can be identified later and put back together more easily.
With four yards on the wharf, the fore, and main t’gallants and royals, students then split up into two groups, each taking a pair of yards to inspect and document their findings. The yards will be moved into the rigging workshop and any repairs or replacements that have been identified will be carried out there.