a beautiful boat should sail forever.
In response to Bob’s blog on the masts:
Now we are looking into an interesting bit of history in Newporter construction. The ones we built, and Bob’s present boat is one of them, and those after a few of the first boats were built, were all built to patterns and on jigs and in accord with measurements in a book or two. Each area in our shops had their own areas of the total construction as their “area” of work to put the boats together. This resulted in some overlaps, or areas “of expertise” that belonged to one shop that was completed by another shop, which had no expertise. One such area was the installation of the bowsprit, which included the installation of the rope plates used to fastened the bowsprit shrouds, or whisker stays, to the outside of the bulwarks and the installation of the bob chain. The sprit itself was made by the men in the jointer shop instead of the spar builder. That left me (the spar builder) with no memory of the bow sprit construction. It was built and installed before I had anything to do with it (except that I did turn down the nose, or outboard end of it in the early stages of its construction). Later, at the end of the construction of the boat, with it completed with the exception of the masts, booms, their rigging, and all that. This is where I finally got on the boat to do my thing. Many of the fittings I needed to do the rigging were put in by the hull construction crew and I had to make my work fit.
The mast steps and partners of both masts were set in position with no input from me, so centering the masts in the steps and partners was about all I could basically do. The mast steps were made and installed by the rough carpenters (the hull constructors who made the frames and built the hull to the planking and decking installation) and the partners were installed by the finish carpenters But so doing gave a main mast that canted aft and a mizzen that canted almost anyway. Many things are involved in the “correction” of the situation. I was a self taught rigger and had precious little instruction from others (especially the former rigger who wouldn’t give me help even if he was told to by the highest ranking boss) so I was on my own and I’m a slow learner—takes me a while to see things but once seen I couldn’t really leave things alone. So I started taking measurements to see some relationship between the parts. Too bad this all happened close to the end because we never really got to fix the problem which was still enclosed in a dark closet. I never got beyond telling the boss that we needed to remove the mizzen partner and center it over the slot in the step. This did not fix the negative rake of the mizzen mast and it put the mast very close to the lip on the hole in the cockpit sole.
Now to a little history. First on the rake (‘cant’ as used earlier) of the masts. You can get to almost name the designers of sail boats by the amount of rake given the masts. Designers all seem to have their favorite rake. I’m an old Chesapeaker, having a “first ancestor in my father’s line” coming from Wales in the middle 1600’s to the Hooper’s Islands southwest of Cambridge, MD. Think Bugeye when you think of me—it’s my favorite rig by a ‘l o n g’ shot and it carries a lot of rake. Boats that have absolute plumb masts look too ridiculous, and the masts look as if they rake forward. So, it is either my liking some noticeable rake (or the Newporter does look better with raked masts) that I want to see the mast raking aft with no doubt about it.
I’ve seen some Newporter blueprints with no, or very little rake, and some with considerable rake with the masts parallel. Seems Ack couldn’t make up his mind, or those who drew up the plans knew nothing about rake. Parker, that rather independent designer from Florida who has done a lot of redesigning of traditional working sail, not only favors rake, he also goes somewhat overboard with it. He reworked the New England pilot schooner and the worse thing he did to it was too much rake (to my eye; his eye likes it, so I don’t say he’s wrong). But it does seem that the old boats had easily seen rake and usually they carried more rake in the after mast. There may be a real reason to the two different angles of rake, but I have no idea what it may be. But where you have a difference in rake for the two masts, keep the two at, right at, parallel or give the aftermost mast more rake.
The mast partner for the main is rectangular to match the hole cut into the coach top of the main cabin, and through bolted to the top. The mizzen partner is a two piece affair made with a flat plate welded to the forward piece which is a section of flat bar that was bent to match the quarter round of the mast. The flat plate had three holes for mounting bolts that pierced the doghouse top that extended aft of the after doghouse bulkhead. This piece was bolted as luck or whim of a boss would have it either on top of the house top or under (my preference) the top. The second piece was a flat bar almost identical to the forward piece; both had its ends bent out 90 degrees, each with two holes on each end to bolt (two bolts to a side) the two sections together (a strip of leather wrapped around the mast) and clamp the mast in the partner.
In putting the partners, mast and mizzen, in the correct place, I’d first find the center, fore and aft, of the mast tenon, check boat that it is level fore and aft and side to side (if not, either set it plumb and level or build two declivity boards and work to them), run a vertical line up through the the house top. Where that line runs through the house top should be used for the center of the partners. Bear in mind that the masts should be plumb athrawtship and raked to your choice fore and aft.
When ‘tuning’ the rig after stepping the masts have the masts rake as desired and the masts aligned so that when looking from straight ahead you see only one mast. If it is, pat yourself on your back, but don’t injure yourself.
Now, if your rigging fits the boat all is well. When tuned the properly set masts will be a thing of beauty. But make sure you set the booms to fit the beauty because misfit booms steal from the beauty of the properly placed masts.
Now, Bob, with all plumb and level, cut your hole in the cockpit sole where it needs to be. Put a weldment of angle iron centered on the center line of the mast. Then to finish, install a boot of canvas and paint it waterproof. How? See my website on construction (see your right side column and click on newporter.ning.com) and open the Photos page, then go to its page 7 and click on the upper left corner picture ‘Mast Wedges, Boots’ to get some idea as to what is needed.