Happy May Day!


Good Morning! It’s a beautiful one at that! We’re still enjoying the sunny days, cool, but at least they are sunny. Ice on the decks in the morning makes for the first trip to the heads an exciting one! The crew have been “itchy” to rig and rightfully so. They have been sanding and painting for months now with the end of painting in sight. Rigging takes their jobs to a whole new dimension. Each block is hawled up and shackeled and moused in place. Lines are rove in a certain direction (sometimes taking more than once to get it right). Topmasts are ever so carefully lifted up and attached to their heel ropes. The crew are using these rigging days to “learn the ropes” as they say. Pins are in place on the pinrails now to hold their respective lines. Today they will be placing the jibboom back out for the head rig to go up. That funny piece they painted and smirked at this winter called the martingale (this is a test for Ed & Al) will finally make some sense for them. What a great day it is when it all comes into place.

After the rigging goes up, the schooner takes on a new look and feel, beginning to come alive. She seems as though she’s sitting at the dock, tugging on her mooring lines, ready to be released. Patience, we say, sails will be bent on soon and passengers will arrive soon (21 days and counting!). It’s hard to believe, but it only takes two days to rig the vessel…two very long days at that!

So it seems only fitting to share this photo of Alex on the masthead on May Day…as Sawyer and Nadie are preparing for their May Pole dance at school…It’s amazing that May Day traditionally divides the year in half…can that be???

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

P.S. To those who have commented since this was published,

According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, striking dolphins is clearly criminal activity. Now we won’t judge what you do in your spare time but we here at the global headquarters of the schooner Mary Day protect the rights of all dolphins to swim the oceans freely without fear of being stricken by a piece of varnished wood. What did they do to deserve such poor treatment at the hands of maniacal schoonermen and square riggers alike, arm chair or otherwise, as they gracefully swim in the bow waves bringing joy to the hearts of many? On the other hand the term martingale speaks of beauty and grace. In that spirit we have chosen the more sensitive and graceful term to describe such a beautiful object. I reference, of course, Van Nostrands 1922 ” Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service”, second edition, sixth printing, authored by Felix Riesenberg, C. E. (credits and accolades too long to list) where on pages 182, 192, and 194 he refers to the dolphin striker and martingale as one and the same.

Besides which, we just wanted to see if you were paying attention. By the reports of brown outs throughout the Alabama power grid it is clear that you were paying very close attention. On behalf of all of us here at the global headquarters… thank you… we are glad someone is reading this thing.

Best,
Jen and Barry

4 comments

  1. From my armchair sailing experience I have also heard it called a dolphin striker. In that context the martingale would be the line that secures the item in question fore and aft from the tip of the jib boom to the bottom of the piece. Of course the top of the item is set in a fitting at the tip of the bowsprit. Jane posed a question regarding this to several of us as we passed beneath it going ashore during the wooden boat school. It must be noted that the term martingale is also applied to part of the rigging of a horse. In a previous life I had some small experience crossing the Continental Divide on a horse that required one. In that application it consists of a line that ties from the bridle to the chest strap, and keeps the horse from rearing its head. A similar purpose on a ship, the member provides downward strength to the jib boom to counter act the force of the top jib. We will have to research the origins of the term to see if application to horse or ship came first.

  2. From my armchair sailing experience I have also heard it called a dolphin striker. In that context the martingale would be the line that secures the item in question fore and aft from the tip of the jib boom to the bottom of the piece. Of course the top of the item is set in a fitting at the tip of the bowsprit. Jane posed a question regarding this to several of us as we passed beneath it going ashore during the wooden boat school. It must be noted that the term martingale is also applied to part of the rigging of a horse. In a previous life I had some small experience crossing the Continental Divide on a horse that required one. In that application it consists of a line that ties from the bridle to the chest strap, and keeps the horse from rearing its head. A similar purpose on a ship, the member provides downward strength to the jib boom to counter act the force of the top jib. We will have to research the origins of the term to see if application to horse or ship came first.

  3. I don’t know which came first the Martingale horse harness or the harness (or bobstay) to support the bowsprit.

    Dictionary.com defines:

    Martingale:
    n. Any of several parts of standing rigging strengthening the bowsprit and jib boom against the force of the head stays.

    dolphin striker:
    n. A small vertical spar under the bowsprit of a sailboat that extends and helps support the martingale.

    Bobstay:

    n. A rope or chain used to steady the bowsprit of a ship.

    http://www.seatalk.info definitions:

    Martingale:

    A wire or chain leading from the end of the bowsprit down to a chainplate at the forefoot, to counteract the upward pressure of the forestay.

    dolphin striker:

    A spar mounted downward under the bowsprit over the end of which the bobstay is fastened in order to increase its bearing angle on the end of the bowsprit. The purpose of the dolphin striker is exactly the same as the spreaders in the mast rigging. The name is derived from the dolphin’s habit of leaping under the bows of a vessel under way.

    Now the profile of the Mary Day provided during the Wooden Boat Course seems to show that the Martingale is the small spar mounted downward beneath the bowsprit.

    My online research came up with two interesting sites. Nautical Etymology and The Dictionary of English Nautical Language.

  4. I read your blog regularly!! and I find it joyful! I have never been on the Mary Day, (though I took a trip, some time ago, on the Issac Evans), but plan to at least to come by and see her when visiting the area later this month. I feel rather like a vouyeur reading your blog, but you convey with such freshness, spirit,and appreciation, a wonderful world – who could resist?

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