Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dem Turnbuckle Dem

Happy birthday Garry Shandling?  Hmmm, not quite good enough, I'd say.  How about this: happy day-after-your-birthday Jon Stewart!  Much better...

So for the past month and a half or so I and a few others on my crew have been on the 'Mast Team.'  The Mast Team was assigned the tremendous task of rehabilitating our two wooden masts: the main mast and the mizzen mast.  I could go into a large amount of detail here describing this enormous job, but I will refrain from delving too deeply, as really I am just writing this to set up a funny story that occurred a few days ago.

But to give you a bit of context about what this job looked like, as I know at least some of you are actually interested in this project and not only the clumsy meanderings of my mind: Our main mast is a single 113' tall Douglas Fir tree (Pseudotsuga menzesii---no I did not need to look that up), and at one point was the tallest mast in the Mediterranean Sea.  Our mizzen mast is about 90' tall and is made of many planks of Douglas Fir wood all glued together.  They are both currently laying on wooden blocks at the shipyard and have not been mounted on the boat in over three years.  The main mast had a few very rotten sections which required cutting out all of the rot and replacing it with new wood (not as simple as it sounds, I can assure you).  The mizzen mast had to be completely taken apart, board by board, and many pieces needed to be entirely replaced while other planks only needed to be repaired, and then re-planed, re-glued, re-shaped, re-etc.  All of this woodwork gave me the opportunity to be introduced to different power tools, such as large, antiquated planers and table saws, and other such appendage and phalange-removing machinery.  It seemed for a time to be a job that would never end, until now, when we are finally at a stage where we can begin sanding, varnishing, re-attaching all of the rigging, and hopefully within the next ten days to two weeks will put those babies back on the ship!

It has been a monumental (emphasis on the mental) task to get where we are now, and suffice it to say that that small description of the job does it zero justice.  But that's alright, a blog can really give no more than a glimpse anyway, and we now have sufficient meat to deliver the funny story.

If you don't know, as I didn't until a month ago when I began working with them, what a turnbuckle is, here is a photo of one:

Photo Coutesy Of:

They are used to attach the cables (or shrouds) that hold the mast in place to the side of the ship, and to adjust the tension on these cables.  I was put in charge of figuring out how many turnbuckles we need so that we could order them.  The U-shaped part with the bolt going through it, on the bottom of the turnbuckle in the above photograph, is called the 'jaw', and the oval-shaped part is the 'eye.'  While perusing the catalog with all of the turnbuckles in it I came across what I was looking for, and then had to make a decision regarding the specifics of my order, because sometimes you need turnbuckles with two jaws, or two eyes, or with both a jaw and an eye as is shown above.  This is the funny part.  Here were my choices according to the catalog:

Jaw and Jaw
Eye and Eye
Eye and Jaw 

Now this is really only going to be funny to those of you that grew up listening to as much reggae music as I did, but now go ahead and say those three above choices with a Jamaican accent.

So I and I took it upon my and my self to order turteen a dem combeenation 'I and Jah' turnbuckle, so now we and we can hoist dem sails to the most high and begin our mission a justice to help protect me bredren and sistren that I mon call dem coral reef dem, seen?

That's all.


  1. Great writing Sam. I am enjoying your blogs and imagining your adventure. It all seems so romantic and tough and fun. I want to be there with you and I get to be through your reports.
    Love from the Harris clan,

  2. Hey Sam, It's Brendan's mom ,Sarah, this is all so interesting and I was laughing so much with the reggae ref to the Jaw. Power on dude and have fun, So sorry about the peugot... believe me I had a few .... YOU got a great life outta her.And the one time i rode in yours it was great. Brendan was so upset that it ended so soon. I hope you HAVE A great adventure !! I think of your dad every time I pass Agate beach, I remember, what a nice man he was and how much I enjoyed being in his presence . Love to you