81-foot mast ships out to California

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 1/17/17

The luck of Port Townsend’s boatbuilders held on Friday the 13th, as a new 81-foot mast for the California-based, 63-foot cutter Orient was loaded onto a transportation truck.

Work on the mast …

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81-foot mast ships out to California

Posted

The luck of Port Townsend’s boatbuilders held on Friday the 13th, as a new 81-foot mast for the California-based, 63-foot cutter Orient was loaded onto a transportation truck.

Work on the mast began early last year, and by the time it was done, experienced hands from the Northwest Maritime Center, Traditional Boat Works and Port Townsend Foundry had all contributed to the hollow Sitka spruce spar, to replace the one that had been built in 1955.

After being boxed, the mast was hoisted by crane outside the Northwest Maritime Center and gently guided over to the truck’s trailer, whose load-bearing struts were adjusted to allow the mast to hang over the top of the truck cab and the end of the trailer.

Under the direction of Doug Jones of Traditional Boat Works, and with the help of Robert D’Arcy of Robert D’Arcy Marine Services and Scott Jones from the Northwest Maritime Center, a crew of volunteers applied epoxy, rolled and glued the mast for the Orient, a Sparkman & Stephens–designed sloop that was launched in 1938 in Hong Kong and is currently moored in Santa Barbara.

D’Arcy noted the difficulty of securing spruce on short notice, and counted himself fortunate that he’d already acquired a load of old-growth Sitka years ago.

Jones likewise pointed out the challenge of getting long boards without knots.

D’Arcy’s wood had time beforehand to air-dry, which eliminated the need for it to be custom-sawed and kiln-dried, and its moisture was reduced by another 10 percent in the shop.

Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center, said the mast is a symbol of the quality of work that comes out of Port Townsend.

“It’s easy to get jaded about perfection in an era when everything is machined,” Beattie said. “This mast is handmade perfection. It looks like it just grew that way.”

Beattie noted that “thousands of people” came through the Northwest Maritime Center last year, while the mast project was underway.

(Staff writer Patrick J. Sullivan contributed to this story.)

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