The Joy Parks skipjack mast had been cut off to fit the boat into a storage shed at the Harry Lundeburg School of Seamanship in St. Mary’s County. A new yellow pine mast was shaped, first with a chainsaw and then with hand tools, and stepped in at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Here, the mast is shaped and ready for raising and stepping into the skipjack. The mast was approximately 65 feet in length.
Galvanized steel wire rope was attached to the mast in preparation for raising. This rope section was attached to a point where the mast is the strongest. Festival technical crew led by Rob Schneider joined ship restorations experts from Coastal Heritage Alliance, led by Mark Donohue.
A sliver dollar is nailed to the end of the mast that will be stepped into the boat’s deck. This is an old custom which sailors believe will make the mast set correctly.
Extra wire rope needed to be secured out of the way by one of the ship restoration crew from Coastal Heritage Alliance when the mast was prepared for raising. Note the “stepped” end which is squared off. This is the end of the mast that will be placed into the hole in the deck of the boat.
Nylon utility cord was used to guide the mast as it was raised. The actual weight was supported by galvanized steel wire rope. Here, members of the restoration team gather up excess cord before the raising.
High drama started as a shooting boom forklift was used to raise the mast off the ground and move it to be stepped into the boat deck. The striped cord was one of the guiding ropes. The raising was a balancing act of well-distributed weight and delicate timing.
The mast was successfully raised off the ground, and guided by three rope lines. Here, one of the Coastal Heritage Alliance crew pushes the mast bottom of the mast down as it raises in the air. If he had not guided the mast bottom in this way, the fully extended forklift may have tipped over!
Guiding the mast to the deck of the shipjack with forklift and ropes. The mast is almost ready to drop into the hole on the deck.
The mast is lowered into the hole. A member of the Coastal Heritage Alliance crew was below decks ready to guide the bottom of the mast into proper position.
The new mast in place on the Joy Parks skipjack, with the Washington Monument in the background, a proud sight for everyone involved.
Coastal Heritage Alliance crew and Festival tech crew join to untie individual rigging shrouds. At this point, the forklift was still in place holding the mast up.
The mast was rigged by the Coastal Heritage Alliance ship restoration crew. Since the original sails of the Joy Parks were no longer usable, new sails will have to be made in the future if the skipjack ever joins the fleet of working sailing ships again. Now that they have a mast, who knows? After the Festival, the skipjack returned to St. Mary’s County to be part of a county museum exhibition.
Wooden boat-building shops once dotted the landscape of the rural Mid-Atlantic maritime region. Some grew into large operations, but many remained small workshops in a corner of a shed belonging to a fishing family. There they would stock materials not only to build boats, but also repair fishing equipment such as nets, dredges, and engines. Small boats like skiffs were often built under the trees in a backyard in places like Harkers Island, North Carolina, "seasoned by the same wind and weather they were built to withstand," as a local writer says.
The art of wooden boat-building with native materials like Atlantic white cedar was in danger of disappearing in many Mid-Atlantic communities such as Harkers Island, North Carolina, and Tuckerton, New Jersey. In these and other communities across the region, local museums try to preserve this art by providing space, tools, and materials and hiring older boat builders to demonstrate and teach. Today, craftsmen like Gus Heinrichs, who makes "Barnegat Bay sneakboxes" and other local boat types at the Tuckerton Seaport boat shop, are passing on their skills to a new generation of wooden boat builders.
At the Festival, ship restoration workers shaped and raised a new mast for the Joy Parks skipjack, and boat builders from North Carolina and New York's Long Island worked on projects.